Workshop Content’s Documentary ‘extraOrdinary’ Airing on PBS Stations

'Father Bill' became the Catholic Church's first quadriplegic priest (Image credit: Courtesy of the Atkinson Family)

Workshop Content Studios said its latest documentary, extraOrdinary/The Bill Atkinson Story, will be airing on PBS stations across the country as a result of the company’s new distribution agreement with American Public Television.

The film tells the story of Bill Atkinson, who was paralyzed in a tobogganing accident as a teenager, and later became the Catholic Church’s first quadriplegic priest. He touched many lives and, since his death in 2006, is being considered for sainthood by the church.

The documentary will be seen on stations including KVCR, Los Angeles, WGBH, Boston, WHYY, Philadelphia, WCET, Cincinnati and WNPT, Nashville.

To become a priest after his accident, Atkinson had to overcome many obstacles over nine years and required special dispensation from Pope Paul VI. He was ordained at his hometown parish of St. Alice’s in Upper Darby, Pa., in 1974. So many people were moved by his perseverance that his first Mass was celebrated at the Villanova University Fieldhouse, capacity 1,500.

Bill Atkinson was injured in tobogganing accident.

Bill Atkinson was injured in tobogganing accident. (Image credit: Courtesy of the Atkinson Family)

“This was an honor for our company to be given the opportunity to make this documentary about the life of Father Atkinson,” said The WorkShop Content Studios’ CEO and executive producer Tom Farrell, who was one of Atkinson’s students at Msgr. Bonner.

“It's amazing to think that this small town boy is now on a path to someday becoming a Saint. I have faith that we will see that day ̶ and what a day that will be,” said Farrell, who has produced other programs dealing with people overcoming adversity such as Basketball Or Nothing and True North: The Sean Swarner Story.

extraOrdinary/The Bill Atkinson Story was executive produced by Tom Farrell and Fred Hagen. The documentary was directed by Brandon Gulish. Producers included Tom Farrell, Brandon Gulish, Jonathan Mantovani and Tommy Caamano. Peter Prokop served as associate producer.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.