Hometown Television – Georgia Public Broadcasting



Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB) is Georgia’s “free” television. Most of us know of public broadcasting for our favorite childhood shows like Sesame Street, Reading Rainbow, and Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. Aside from these great classics, most of us find other great shows on this channel. One of my favorite shows that helps me to escape from reality all in the comfort of my own home is Rick Steves’ Europe Through the Back Door. For those not familiar with this show, Steve tells a tale about various places in Europe and goes to mainstream places in Europe with small tour groups visiting small, not-so-commercial places in Europe. It allows for a much more intimate exploration of fantastic places in Europe. Aside from kids shows and travel shows, GPB also has many unique documentaries covering wars, social issues, and historical topics. They also have one of my favorite news shows – Frontline – which covers so many provocative news topics that you probably wouldn’t see on mainstream news stations.

I can go on and on about how much enthusiasm I have for this television station but I’m going to digress and allow someone from the station tell us more about it. For this blog, I have collaborated with Mandy Wilson, Communications Manager at GPB and Pamela Roberts, Executive Producer at GPB – to tell us more about how awesome this television station is.


MC: I enjoy GPB! It is the home of some of my childhood favorites, travel shows, food shows, and great documentaries. If it weren’t for this station, I wouldn’t know about some of the exciting things in history or current events that aren’t discussed on primetime TV. Enough about my enthusiasm for GPB – tell our readers why GPB is important to Atlanta.

MW: GPB’s mission is to educate, inform and entertain, and we carry out our mission by delivering thought-provoking, insightful programs like Frontline, Morning Edition, American Experience and All Things Considered. We also develop educational resources and original programs such as Georgia Outdoors, Georgia Traveler and 37 Weeks: Sherman on the March, while working with statewide and regional partners on multi-platform initiatives that enable us to enhance the relevance of our programming and better serve the needs of our communities.

In addition to our national footprint from PBS and NPR, GPB also brings a Georgia perspective to the world with the national airings of GPB Original documentaries like Augusta’s Master Plan and Margaret Mitchell: American Rebel, which swept the 2012 Southeast Regional EMMY® Awards with wins in five categories, including historical documentary.

GPB Original programs like Georgia Traveler and Georgia Outdoors capture our state’s people, heritage and natural beauty and also offer supplemental education materials correlated to Georgia Performance Standards. GPB highlights community life with weekly coverage of high school football games on television and on the web, along with coverage of the annual GHSA Football, Basketball and Cheerleading Championships.

The annual broadcast of over 3,000 hours of trusted, commercial-free PBS Kids programs such as Sesame Street, Super Why!, and Dinosaur Train assure parents and caregivers that GPB is a safe haven for children. And while this has been a cornerstone of content offered for our young learners, GPB also offers original content at gpb.org that includes the games “Dinoventures” and “Salsa!.”

Additional educational multimedia content delivered though gpb.org includes digital assets for use in the classroom, such as video clips, curriculum, writing prompts and lesson plans, all aligned to Georgia Performance Standards. Over 80,000 Georgia educators regularly use GPB assets.

How does GPB determine what is in the television lineup? Is educational programming the only types of shows that can be on this network?

GPB receives much of its programming from PBS, but it also has access to programming from American Public Television, the BBC, and others. GPB produces a significant amount of original series like “Georgia Outdoors,” and “Georgia Traveler,” as well as original documentaries. We also work from time to time with Georgia-based independent producers for content. What goes into the schedule and where is based on careful analysis of audience response ranging from Nielsen ratings, to phone calls, letters, and emails received, as well as public financial response during membership campaigns, and of course what – in GPB’s best judgment – is important for audiences across the state to have exposure to. And though there is certainly an educational component of some degree to most of what GPB broadcasts, it’s not all an educational mold, but represent a true alternative to what is available on commercial television.

 If I am not mistaken, this network has a lot of British programs that air. We have a sister organization of Women in Film and Television in London. Inform us and them of how you choose shows for your British segment of GPB.

Just to piggyback off of the last point I made about shows not all fitting the educational mold, we have the British segments which are comedies that air on Saturday nights. Decision making for the purchase of British shows is no different than that of American shows. It’s all based on quality production and content and also based on what viewers have responded well to in the past. Hence, we expect good response for these shows in the future.


Many of us have different interests in film and television. Tell our audiences how a career in public television could be something that could be worthwhile as an alternative to Hollywood.

Before I answer this question, Melisha, let me give you a little bit of my background in documentary making on GPB. One of my latest projects is “Dean Rusk: At the Heartbeat of History” about Georgian and former Secretary of State Dean Rusk. It premiered on GPB on May 27. Also, my GPB original documentary “Margaret Mitchell: American Rebel,” was released in 2011 in conjunction with the 75th anniversary of the book “Gone With the Wind” and won five Southeast Regional Emmys and was featured as an episode of the national PBS program “American Masters.”

Now to answer your question, I will begin by saying I am truly fortunate to have had a career as a documentary filmmaker in public broadcasting, but I didn’t set out to do that. After graduating from college I moved to L.A. to study filmmaking at the University of Southern California and worked on both student and feature films, doing everything from script writing to schlepping cables as a production assistant. I had begun the laborious process of working one’s way up in the film industry which would hopefully pay off in becoming a Hollywood writer or director one day. After a while, however, I realized that my interests lay in the real world around me rather than in the world of fiction. Working with film school friends on the side, I made little nonfiction pieces and showed them to people who encouraged me to change directions.

Finding public broadcasting was like coming home. I have been at GPB for 17 years and have never had a day when I didn’t learn something. I have never been bored. I feel deeply privileged to be part of PBS which has the highest standards in terms of content, production values and original programming. I have lived in the world of American Masters, NOVA, Frontline, and Masterpiece Theatre. I have produced programs for Georgia and for national PBS and I have met and worked with extraordinary people both in front of and behind the camera.

Perhaps I could have had a successful career in Hollywood, but I am so glad I chose public broadcasting. Documentary filmmaking gave me an excuse to enter worlds I would otherwise never see, to meet people with extraordinary ideas and experiences and to learn about the roots of our life today from the richness of our history. Thanks to public broadcasting, I remain continuously fascinated by the world around me.

Logo courtesy of Mandy Wilson.


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Downton Abbey’s Laura Carmichael On Lady Edith’s Emotional Season 5

Photo courtesy of Rosemary Jean-Lewis

Written by Rosemary Jean-Louis, Guest Blogger

Season five of “Downton Abbey” had the melodrama of a telenovela with no character being untouched by conflict and troubles.

But Julian Fellowes heaped the heartache on the Crawley middle sister, Lady Edith.

At the beginning of the season, Lady Edith had taken back her daughter Marigold and hid her away with tenant farmer and adoptive couple the Drewes.

It seemed like a good idea at the time, should have been the tagline for this scheme. Lady Edith planned on checking in on Marigold as much as possible. But Mrs. Drewe, unaware of Marigold’s true identity, made the Crawley sister miserable with each visit. At one point, she denied Lady Edith seeing Marigold during one stopover. By midway through the season, Mrs. Drewe banned Lady Edith from seeing the little girl altogether.

Add the confirmed death of Mr. Gregson, Edith’s lover and Marigold’s father, and what an emotional rollercoaster ride for the character and the actress who plays her.

That would be Laura Carmichael and at the second annual “Downton Abbey” themed weekend at the Sea Island Resort this past January, she shared how she navigated playing so many scenes with such a heightened sense of emotions.

“Really when you’ve got a day which is a lot of your big storyline (days), those are kind of easier. You’re in it,” she explains. “They tend to schedule them together if they can. So they’ll put all of your big scenes in one day which can kind of help the concentration.”

“It’s a performance. So much of what happens to Edith is that she has to show that she’s fine even when she’s not. So it’s my job to always keep it in my mind and be on top of that.”

You can watch Carmichael discuss it in this video snippet of a panel discussion she appeared on during the weekend event alongside Kevin Doyle (Mr. Moseley) and Raquel Cassidy (Baxter) moderated by Jessica Fellowes, niece of Julian and “Downton Abbey” book author.


If you’re suffering from “Downton Abbey” withdrawal, here’s a fix. Visit Georgia Public Broadcasting’s “Downton Abbey” store to stock up on t-shirts, mugs and other swag.



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Mary Lou Belli Teaches Us How to Master Make-Believe

Mary Lou Workshop with WIFTA Atlanta, Georgia



mary lou belli


Mary Lou's Book


Mary Lou Belli began her career as a stand-in and has risen steadily to the top to become one of the most powerful female directors in television. Her most prominent work includes “The Game,” and “Reed Between the Lines;” but, she has also directed episodes of “Sister, Sister,” “Eve,” “The Hughleys,” “Major Dad,” and “Charles in Charge,” to name a few.  At present, she is the director for a show now filming in Georgia called “Devious Maids.”


On Saturday, February 20, a small group of actors, writers, directors, and producers gathered in downtown Atlanta at Georgia Public Broadcasting’s conference room to listen to Mary Lou share advice on how to master the world of make-believe. The morning began with small-talk and a light breakfast followed by a ’round table’ discussion led by Mary Lou.  She began the discussion with a synopsis of her film career which spans 20 years.  She then ‘cut’ right to an actor activity in which everyone who was gathered in the circle ‘passed lines’ to one another the first line being ‘Go Away.’ Not one person could hide or feign shyness because Mary Lou’s ’round table’ session was highly interactive.  In this activity one person would say the phrase ‘Go Away’ – acted according to the subtext given by Mary Lou or one of the directors present – and the person to their left would say the same line to the next person to their left.

Devious MaidsThroughout this exercise, Mary Lou would have us take it up or down a notch to perform to the level that was necessary to fulfill the subtext goal.  There was a lot of passion and a whole lot of laughter that ensued as we all took turns saying our lines.  Who would have ever thought that the the phrase ‘Go Away’ could change meaning by simply changing the subtext or the action surrounding the phrase?  This exercise allowed all of us – actors, writers, producers and directors – to get a feel for what she experiences regularly trying to get actors perform their roles to perfection.  As simple as this activity may seem, it had its challenges and if you ever thought that acting was easy, this exercise made you realize rather quickly that it isn’t easy at all.

After about 45 minutes of acting and building layers, there was a Q&A session.  Mary Lou answered a range of questions from “How to get actors to do what you want them to do even when they can’t seem to get it right,’ to ‘How to accept things as they are and when to fight for what you believe is the right way for a script to be acted out on screen.”  The topics in the Q&A were intriguing but two that really sparked a lot of interest from the audience was the discussion about Georgia film and TV production and women and minorities in film.  The discussion briefly veered off into the direction of how to keep Atlanta from becoming a mere fly by night extension of California or New York’s film production.  Mary Lou responded by saying that Atlanta is a viable market and stated that the experiences that actors and producers will have here on set will impact the desire to return and film even more because some of the production studios that have been built here are ‘bar none.’  In response to the discussion about women and minorities in film, Mary Lou has a positive outlook about the future and believes that there will be and explosive amount of growth within the next 5 to 10 years for women and minorities in film.



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Victoria Is Strong, Stubborn, And Successful: Just What We Need

Victoria On MASTERPIECE on PBS *SPECIAL TWO-HOUR PREMIERE* SUNDAY, JANUARY 15, 2017 AT 9PM ET Continues Sundays, January 22 – February 19, 2017 at 9pm ET Season Finale on Sunday, March 5 at 9pm ET Episode One – "Doll 123" Sunday, January 15 at 9pm ET As a new queen, the young Victoria struggles to take charge amid plots to manipulate her. Victoria’s friendship with the prime minister leads to a crisis in Parliament. Shown: Jenna Coleman as Queen Victoria (C) ITV Plc


Written by Rachel Buchman, GPB

If she needs advice, she’ll ask for it.

This is what the newly appointed Queen Victoria insists to her advisors in the first episode of PBS’ new series Victoria, and it couldn’t have come at a better time for television. As the change in the United States Presidency approaches, people ask themselves “How much of the Inauguration and political coverage do I feel comfortable watching, if at all?”. Many thought that it was time to elect the first female leader of the United States, and those hopes were dashed when Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 election. With Donald Trump moving into The White House, women look to other sources for inspirational leadership.

With this in mind, Victoria is a worthy addition to any television schedule on Sunday nights. Jenna Coleman (of Doctor Who fame) stars as the titular queen, who upon being informed her uncle, the King, has died, takes no time in adapting to her new role as monarch of one of the greatest nations in the world. The men in parliament doubt her abilities and wonder if her age and sex makes her qualified to be in charge, and those close to her plot to control her every decision. Thus in the first episode, Victoria makes it clear that she’ll look for assistance as she sees fit.

Which she does. After all, she must understand the full responsibilities of being a queen. She pledges her trust to Prime Minister Lord Melbourne (played by Rufus Sewell), a prominent leader of the Whig party whose days as Prime Minister are numbered. Members of the Tory party are displeased, as is Sir John Conroy (played by Paul Rhys), who has formed a close relationship with Victoria’s mother (the Duchess of Kent) and would wish to see her rule as Regent instead of her daughter, so he can influence her as he sees fit. But Victoria Creator, Executive Producer, and Writer Daisy Goodwin chooses to show a blossoming infatuation Victoria has with Lord Melbourne, something that while may not have been historically accurate, Yet it reveals that despite being a queen, Victoria is still an 18 year old young woman who feels attraction and affection as easily as the servants downstairs who help run Buckingham House (soon to be Palace, as Victoria exclaims as she moves in).

Viewers may recognize actors from other programs, such as Tom Hughes as Prince Albert (Dancing On The Edge, Miss Marple) and Nell Hudson as Miss Skerrett (Outlander), which proves to be an enjoyable game of “Where Have I Seen That Actor Before?” amidst the political and romantic issues of the day which Victoria must contend with in her early reign. But above all else, Victoria is firm in her decisions on love and life, and handles criticism gracefully (usually) while being honest with her priorities and feelings. Something leaders no matter the time period and country could stand to learn.

Victoria airs on GPB on Sunday nights at 9 p.m., now through March 5th.





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This Seat’s Reserved – Behind the Scenes of GPB’s New Show ‘A Seat at the Table’

Logo for GPB's new series "A Seat at the Table"
Image Courtesy of GPB


What is it like to be a black woman in America?  How do black women feel about how people perceive their hair; about raising children; about marriage and relationships; and about black men?

“I am not my hair,” are the words spoken so fiercely by the neo-soul singer, India Arie in defense of black women being more than just a hairdo.  Likewise the three co-hosts of this show – Monica Kaufman, Denene Millner, and Christine White – are much more complex than their hair, skin, clothes, and finely manicured nails.  They represent a diverse mix of African American women from various generations, professions, and perspectives.  These three women have teamed up to give a voice to issues affecting not just the African American community but more specifically African American women in GPB’s new show “A Seat at the Table” premiering Sunday, June 18, at 6:30 p.m.

Last Tuesday afternoon, GPB invited a small group of media professionals out to get a sneak peak of the show.  The meeting started with a luncheon that allowed attendees to network with each other and to get to know the show producers better.  

Media professionals meet to discuss GPB's new series "A Seat at the Table."
Local media professionals eating lunch, networking and sharing ideas.


Bert Huffman, VP for External Affairs and Chief Development Officer, along with the producers of the show – Keocia Howard and Tiffany Brown Rideaux – entertained questions from the audience about how they chose the co-hosts and how they chose the topics for the show.  They also hinted at some ways to grow and expand the show series beyond public television and into a commercial platform, while maintaining GPB’s commitment to educate, entertain, and inform audiences.


Employees of GPB explain the premise for "A Seat at the Table."
Bert Huffman (left), Keocia Howard and Tiffany Brown Rideaux explain the show’s premise.


The ladies of ASATT took a break from filming an episode on the topic of “do black men support black women like black women support them” to share with the audience more about the show.  Although these three women are from three different age groups and professional backgrounds, their synergy was as genuine off-screen as it is on-screen.  Audience members asked a variety of questions and the hosts took turns responding to them.  One point that each host emphasized is that this show would allow people to see them express their real feelings about real things that affect them individually as black women in America.  This show “gives voice to what hasn’t been spoken of in public,” says Christine.  Thanks to GPB’s unconventional platform, no topic that these ladies tackle will be too taboo or controversial, and they will reflect an African American woman’s perspective – a perspective that often overlooked or undermined in mainstream media platforms.


Monica Kaufman, Denene Millner, and Christine White discuss their new show "A Seat at the Table."
Christine (left), Monica (middle), and Denene (right) speak to the audience about the show.


After the question and answer period, the ladies returned to what they do best: entertaining.  The audience was invited to the studio to see firsthand what it is like to watch a live taping.  


Inside of GPB studio for a live taping of "A Seat at the Table."
Inside GPB studio for a live taping of “A Seat at the Table.”


A seat at the table premieres June Sunday, June 18, at 6:30 p.m on GPB.   To view episodes on the web, visit gpb.org/asatt.

Monica Kaufman Pearson is the first minority woman to anchor the daily evening news in Atlanta, Georgia and currently hosts a three-hour weekly music and talk show on Sunday on KISS 104.1 FM and also does Closeups Interviews for WSBTV.com

Denene Millner is a New York Times best-selling author who has penned 27 books which include Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man co-written with Steve Harvey and Around the Way Girl memoir with Taraji P. Henson; and she is a former columnist for Parenting magazine.

Christine White is a speaker, author, investor and business advisor who currently serves as the Managing Attorney at White Legal Strategy Group, LLC and is the co-founder and President of Influencer Coalition.





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