For the people at the science television series “Nova,” Aug. 21 will be sort of like election night, at least when it comes to deadlines.
The program — produced by WGBH Boston — has decided to film that day’s total solar eclipse and air it hours later. It’ll be the series’ fastest turnaround to date.
“I used to do live television in earlier periods of my career,” said senior executive producer Paula S. Apsell, who’ll be running things that day. “This feels very much like it.”
Apsell said “Nova” will set up crews in Casper, Wyo.; Salem, Ore.; NASA’s Ellington Airfield in Houston; and Irwin, Idaho. Some PBS stations are planning to send their own footage of the eclipse for the special.
Participating experts will include Williams College professor Jay Pasachoff, who’s logged 65 eclipses.
“We’ll have five edit rooms,” Apsell said. “All of the material will come into each edit room.”
The eclipse should be visible (in some places better than others) at about 1:15 p.m. on the East Coast, and “Eclipse Over America” should be ready to air on WGBH at 9 p.m.
“Nova” has already prepared content about the history and science of solar eclipses to accompany the footage. Producers have a 52-minute show already done, which will help if weather isn’t in their favor.
Apsell promises “Nova” “will be getting the most pristine shots of the eclipse.” She also said everyone working on the project will get “Eclipse Over America” glasses for safety. “Nova” will give out some of those glasses at “An Eclipse for Everyone,” an event at the Boston Public Library on Tuesday night. (Seating is limited.)
Apsell probably won’t need a pair herself; she said she won’t get to see much of the eclipse as she runs the show from Boston.
PBS’ ‘Nova’ To Broadcast Fastest Turnaround Film To Date Hours After Solar Eclipse
PBS’s Nova will air its fastest turnaround film to date, Solar Eclipse on Monday August 21, 2017, hours after the United States experiences the first total solar eclipse since 1979.
The cosmic spectacle will pass through 13 states, and everyone in the continental U.S. will have the opportunity to see at least a partial eclipse, making it the most widely viewable eclipse of all time. Starting at 10:15 AM PDT (1:15 PM EDT), a lunar shadow 73 miles wide will take one hour and 33 minutes to travel from Oregon on the west coast to South Carolina on the east, allowing continuous observation for 90 minutes.
Solar Eclipse (working title) will be the ultimate companion to the celestial event. Nova will follow teams working on the forefront of solar science and solar storm detection, use CGI animation to reveal the sun’s secret mechanisms and integrate sequences of the eclipse itself — including scenes filmed at iconic locations along the path of the eclipse — user-generated content, NASA footage and more.
“Nova is thrilled to provide our audiences across the U.S. with an up close, in-depth look at this extraordinary scientific event,” said Senior Executive Producer Paula S. Apsell. “We are excited to share the experience with viewers — wherever they are — and the fascinating information it tells us about the inner workings of our sun.”
The Smiling Revolutionary: Remembering Barbara Gullahorn Holecek
By John Angier
Barbara Gullahorn Holecek died in a Boston hospital on August 4th, aged 74. She had been sick for some time, suffering from a genetic metabolic disease that had afflicted her for much of her life. Of her close family she is survived by her brother, Gordon Gullahorn, an astrophysicist now retired from the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.
Barbara was a member of the small group that gathered in the latter half of 1973 in the less than inviting environment of 475 Western Avenue to start production of the new (as yet unnamed) Nova science series. The carpet was unforgettable and so, it turns out, was what we were doing — it was the beginning of the process that put public television’s documentary programming on the national map.
Barbara had been in another corner of 475, working on the debate program, The Advocates, which she’d joined after getting a master’s in documentary film from UCLA. Michael Ambrosino, creator of the science series, had set up three production teams. I was one of the producers, and Michael — only too aware that I needed all the help I could get — wisely put Barbara on my team.
Barbara was a terrific production team member: a tenacious researcher, and a relentless advocate of her views on the best and right ways to approach a subject. She was usually correct, and we learned to get our facts impeccably straight before entering into any kind of argument. By 1976 she was leading her own Nova production team, and there followed eight fruitful years turning out some memorable episodes, on subjects ranging from the changing lives of Canadian Inuit (Hunters of the Seal, 1976) to traditional healing in Nigeria (Doctors of Nigeria, 1981).
Barbara was an exponent of causes — always “saving the world from capitalism”, in her brother Gordon’s words. At UC Berkeley in the mid-1960s she was active in SDS (Students for a Democratic Society), and the anti-war movement. She was arrested in a demonstration in San Francisco against General Maxwell Taylor.
Her revolutionary tendencies mellowed, or perhaps became more constructively channeled, as her professional life developed. In the more than twenty productions she made during her career she was always focused on the victim, the underprivileged, the poor, the less-fortunate — whether the suffering was on the part of humans (in Testimonies, 1993, about treating torture survivors); of animals (in the award-winning The Business of Extinction, 1977, about the global wildlife trade); or even of landscapes (in the prescient and stylish Goodbye Louisiana, 1982). Her imagination and her heart led her often to the other side of the coin, where she’d quite likely stir things up: who’d have thought to make a film about what the subjects of study think of the anthropologists who study them? (Papua New Guinea: Anthropology on Trial, 1983).
Barbara had a great smile, as you can see from the picture taken with Gordon and their mother, Genevieve. It was a charming smile, and she knew how to use it. In Nigeria the forbidding Minister for External Affairs remarked how Barbara and her associate were always smiling. “Your souls are black,” he said as he handed them the permissions they needed. And that arrest at the San Francisco demonstration? She was so charming the cops weren’t going to arrest her. She had to persuade them (smilingly), otherwise she knew that Jerry Rubin (the social activist, her boyfriend at the time, who had already been arrested) would be jealous of whom else she might see while he was in jail.
Barbara left WGBH around 1984, after a subject she was becoming concerned with was deemed not to be a fit with Nova — “not science”. It was a subject that was to occupy her for the next several years: how medicine can approach the treatment and rehabilitation of torture victims. One couldn’t imagine a topic more in line with Barbara’s sensibilities. Not surprisingly, it was a hard film to make, financially and emotionally, but she persisted and in 1993 after almost ten years Testimonies was completed and distributed by, ironically, the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Barbara made about a dozen films on a wide range of subjects after she left WGBH, usually as producer-director, sometimes as writer or co-producer. Life as an independent producer is never easy, and in her case it was made harder by the increasing toll of her disease. Nevertheless she was involved in some notable productions: Umm Kulthum: A Voice Like Egypt from the Filmmakers’ Collaborative, co-produced with Michal Goldman, a feature documentary about the famous singer; Sidet: Forced Exile, for the UK’s Channel 4, executive produced with producer-director Salem Mekuria, a portrait of 3 refugee women in Sudan.
During this period she was able to pursue her love of Africa over several years at Harvard: as a visiting scholar in Afro-American studies, and as a Fellow at the Bunting Institute of Radcliffe College. She took advantage of this time to produce Voices from Africa: First Person Accounts, an oral history and video/audio archive.
She was always a revolutionary, and she kept smiling to the end.
There will be a memorial service held in the Boston area, details to be announced.
WGBH Alum and singer-filmmaker Susheel (aka Cheryl Susheel) Bibbs has a busy fall ahead.
Her award-winning 2008 documentary feature on Mary Ellen Pleasant — MEET MARY PLEASANT — is being re-issued by PBS nationally in HD and will be available to all PBS stations for scheduling following a September 29 uplink.
On that same day, her new film – VOICES FOR FREEDOM: The Hyers Sisters’ Legacy on California’s Hyers Sisters — which was 7 years in the making, is also being uplinked and available September 29 for future scheduling.
In addition, PBS Arts Showcase is profiling Bibbs’ career this fall and Marquis Who’s Who Among American Women has just announced Bibbs as one of their 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award recipients. To top it off, the two films and a new recital by Bibbs will debut in Sacramento this November.
Although Mary Ellen Pleasant is now remembered widely as the “Mother of Civil Rights in California,” the Hyers sisters are all but forgotten. Yet, says Bibbs, the Hyers “brought the U.S. its first musical and successful female touring-opera artists.”
In the perilous 1870’s and 80’s, when protective troops were withdrawn from the South after the Civil War and African Americans were ravaged by lynching and ridiculed across the land by black-face minstrels, the Hyers left their dream of opera stardom and stood up to become Voices for Freedom.
They stood alone for 20 years, touring never-before-seen positive images of black people on the mainstream stage in stories with music that became America’s first musicals — changing minds and hearts — something, laments Bibbs, “so needed today.” These works were the first to use black leading characters, the first to use integrated casting, and the first to use the spiritual and opera as musical resources. Says Bibbs, “They deserve recognition.”
KVIE, PBS, Sacramento, which reaches a broad range from the Sierra to San Jose (Ch 6 in most areas) will become the first PBS station to broadcast Bibbs’ Hyers documentary, and rest of the nation and Canada will follow. KVIE broadcasts will be on November 15 at 7 p.m., November 17 at 4 p.m., and November 19 at 6:30 p.m. on their popular Viewfinder showcase.
The Sacramento International Film Festival is scheduling the Hyers film on their Cinêsoul series the preceding week. Viewers can consult local californiafilmfoundation.org and PBS listings to see Bibbs films, especially during January and February. They may also request broadcast of the programs on their local PBS stations.
A service to remember and celebrate the life of Torrey Reade will be held on Saturday, August 12, 2017 at 11 AM. The Quaker memorial service will be at the Lower Alloways Creek Friends Meetinghouse in Hancocks Bridge, Salem County, New Jersey.
Torrey was born on April 6, 1951. After relatively brief stints at selling the Real Paper in Harvard Square, working at WGBH, and operating her own investment company in New York, she lived and farmed in Salem county, NJ for almost thirty years. On Sunday evening July 16, 2017 she died at the farm after a year-long struggle with lung cancer.
Torrey worked at WGBH from 1973 to 1978, in the first year or so writing scripts with Tim Mayer for an early attempt to bring Masterpiece Theatre-like drama to American television. When that project ended, she went to work for Broadcast Manager (VP) Mark Stevens, as his right arm. Together they acquired programs from PBS, EEN and other public TV entities from around the country, and created the local schedules for channels 2 and 44. In those pre-computer days color-coded daily schedules were hand-written by Torrey with colored ink in meticulous detail on long sheets of paper hung on the wall. With day-of-air recordings, they were the only record of what aired on the stations.
Among other duties, Torrey would dictate on the phone various flags handed down by PBS regarding “adult situations and language;” this required repeating out loud strings of bad words and explicit situation descriptions that, out of context of their programs, often attracted an appreciative group of nearby PR and other broadcast department staff crowding into her little office on the third floor at 125 Western Ave.
In 1978 Torrey left for business school across the parking lot at Harvard. She went on to brief stints in banking and on Wall Street, after which, with a partner from the Street, she formed an investment company, Neptune Partners. Her gardening passion resulted in a roof-top paradise above her loft in Tribecca. In the early ’80’s while looking for a weekend place in the country so she could escape the city and have a bigger garden, she came across a large, neglected, 18th century farm in south Jersey, which quickly became her home and the organic farm she and husband Dick McDermott developed and ran for the better part of 30 years.
In lieu of flowers, please make a contribution to any effort you feel is appropriate or donate to one of the following groups:
The Salem Friends Quarterly Meeting is working to preserve and restore the Lower Alloways Creek Friends Meetinghouse, where the service will held on Saturday. It is a historic building that Torrey held the keys to for many years, and to which she was very attached. The Meetinghouse, built in 1756, is in original condition, but in need of some tender loving care. A typical mid-18th century Quaker meetinghouse, it retains its old benches and interior panels made of seasoned Jersey pine. The exterior brick was made from local clay. The bricks on the original east side are laid in Flemish Bond. The Meeting was laid down in 1938. Contributions for the restoration of the building can be sent to Salem Quarterly Meeting (marked “Torrey Reade”),PO Box 55, Woodstown, NJ 08098.
Or consider the Many Hands Sustainability Center, an organization Torrey supported. The mission of Many Hands Sustainability Center, Inc., a 501 (c)(3), is to promote methods of sustainable living, including organic agriculture, renewable energy, food preservation, homesteading skills, nutrition and its centrality to human health. The Center works to serve the needs of all populations, including such under-served groups as former prisoners, youth, and family farmers.
From Penny Watson
Torrey Reade died on Sunday, July 16th, 2017, after a year-long struggle with cancer. She was 66.
Born and raised in Wayland, MA, Torrey attended public schools and graduated from Carleton College in 1972. For seven years, she worked in the broadcast division of WGBH, Boston’s public television station, helping to introduce such innovative programming as an LGBT pledge night. After graduating from Harvard Business School in 1981, she worked for several large financial institutions and moved to Reade Street in Manhattan. In 1985, she launched the first of several investment funds with business partner Frank Garcia, specializing in distressed companies.
A voracious reader who could recall the plots and passages of novels she’d read twenty years previously, Torrey felt unfulfilled by Wall Street life. She began growing flowers and vegetables on the fire escape of her Tribeca co-op, then built a massive roof garden. In 1989, she bought an historic brick farmhouse in Salem, N.J., and spent many years restoring not only the house, but also the 125 acres of fields that surrounded it. The result was Neptune Farm, an organic farm that raised asparagus, blueberries, beef, and lamb. The New York Times profiled Torrey in a 2008 article, “Deserting the Gray Canyons of Wall Street For the Green Pastures of the Farm.” At her 20th Carleton reunion Torrey reconnected with Dick McDermott, her college boyfriend and artist, who joined her on the farm.
Torrey was grateful to all the neighbors and organizations who had helped her learn to farm, and felt obliged to return the favor. For the rest of her life, she gave back to the community with her financial, intellectual, and organizational skills. She wrote grants, sat on boards, and advocated for historic preservation, farmers’ markets, and solar power. She presented at farming conferences, mentored younger farmers, and was a member of the board of the New Jersey Farm Service Agency, the New Jersey Agriculture Development Committee, Northeast Organic Farming Association, and the Salem County Historical Society.
She is survived by her husband, Dick McDermott; her mother, Suzanne Pearson; siblings Claire, Julia, and Nat Reade; nieces Emma Steinberg and Sophie Duncan; nephews Evan Steinberg, Wilder Duncan, Henry Reade, and Charley Reade; aunt Barbara Levings; as well as in-laws and cousins.
Cookbook authors and “culinarians” Sheila and Marilyn Brass have been part of WGBH for more than 20 years. Sheila worked for Peter McGhee and Margaret Drain in National Programming and Marilynn worked as a consultant and for the How-Tos.
Now they are hosting a new PBS series. In “The Food Flirts,” premiering July 28, they are on a mission to bag their culinary bucket list.
To know the Brass sisters is to want to cook up a show for them — they’re that fun
Deep in the heart of Chinatown, two women of a certain age hover before a noodle-making machine, preparing ramen. The noodle-maker has a name: Gertrude.
“Push, Gertrude, push!” yells one of the women.
“This is like childbirth!” says another.
This is also great television. The women are Marilynn and Sheila Brass, known as the Brass Sisters. Marilynn is 75. Sheila is 80. Together, they star in the upcoming PBS show “Food Flirts,” an eight-episode series debuting on July 28…
In each episode, they visit two restaurant kitchens to sample two ingredients they’ve never had before. Then they retreat to their shared Cambridge abode to create a dish that features both…
Lest you think these are two twittering grannies endearing themselves to patient chefs, think again. They have lived as neighbors or roommates for four decades — no children, never married, though both have “come close,” Marilynn says — opting instead to cook and bake.
“We have 130 years of combined experience,” they like to say.
And they know their stuff.
After careers at WGBH and in the antiques business, they wrote several cookbooks, including “Baking With the Brass Sisters,” “Heirloom Cooking With the Brass Sisters,” and “Heirloom Baking With the Brass Sisters,” in which they reworked handwritten and antique manuscript cookbook recipes for modern readers…
This isn’t a slicked-up Food Network affair. Instead, everyone pitched in, including former TV executive Seidel, who helped to clean the ladies’ bathroom and take out trash. Various rooms in the small Cambridge house functioned as dressing rooms and staging areas.
“The thing I loved is that everybody did everything. We shot four episodes in two weeks without a lot of money. I did Sheila’s makeup and mine because I’ve taken a tutorial with a good makeup person,” says Marilynn.
No divas here. What does it take to live together, film together, and cook together for all these years?
“We work like dogs, but we love it. And we apologize to each other. We say ‘Thank you,’ or, ‘I didn’t mean to be rude.’ We never go to bed angry,” Marilynn says.
“And we didn’t gain an ounce during filming,” adds Sheila.
Cookbook authors and culinarians Marilynn and Sheila Brass — the Brass Sisters, a.k.a. “The Food Flirts” (Instagram: @thefoodflirts) — are two passionate food explorers of a certain age, on a mission to tackle their culinary bucket list one bite at a time. In each episode of this new, six-episode series on PBS, the Boston-based food ladies “flirt” their way into chefs’ kitchens to uncover ethnically unique and delicious delights, then head home to experiment for themselves — creating cross-cultural culinary mash-ups that viewers can try at home. The first two episodes of THE FOOD FLIRTS premiere Friday, July 28, 2017, 10:00-11:00 p.m. ET (check local listings), after episode eight of the food show phenomenon THE GREAT BRITISH BAKING SHOW.
Produced by former Food Network and Cooking Channel executive Bruce Seidel (Instagram: @bruceseidel) of Hot Lemon Productions, the series follows the ladies through culinary mash-up adventures, like a “modern” burger that mixes an Indian dosa with a cheeseburger, or a pastrami ramen noodle kugel recipe. The sisters’ fanciful recipes and unscripted realness brings together unique tastes and unique personalities. Future episodes find the Flirts working culinary magic with baklava crust milk tart, curried golden raisin and cashew rugelach, and “Bunny Chow” pastitsio bread bowls with turmeric béchamel.
“The Brass Sisters have always been two favorite food people in Boston, and I’m thrilled to bring them to a wider audience with THE FOOD FLIRTS series in partnership with PBS,” said Seidel. “Think Two Fat Ladies meets Julia Child – these women have food chops, an alluring sense of humor, and are always ready to share culinary wisdom learned along the way!”
The longtime Cambridge. Mass., residents have 130 years of combined baking and cooking experience. Recently named “Food Heroes” by the Mayor of Cambridge for their various food contributions, they are the authors of Baking With The Brass Sisters (St. Martin’s Press 2015), Heirloom Cooking With The Brass Sisters (Black Dog & Leventhal, 2008), and Heirloom Baking With The Brass Sisters (Black Dog & Leventhal, 2006), which was a finalist for the James Beard Foundation award in the Dessert and Baking category. Their books are consistently best-sellers; Food & Wine magazine has called the sisters “dessert geniuses,” and selected their books for its annual The Best of the Best 25 Cookbooks.
The Brass Sisters have appeared on numerous television programs during their careers and conducted cooking demonstrations at many events. Nationally, the duo headlined a one-hour special on Cooking Channel, “The Brass Sisters Celebrate the Holidays,” hosted the public television show “The Brass Sisters: Queens of Comfort Food” and appeared on “Throwdown with Bobby Flay” on Food Network (beating Iron Chef Flay with their pineapple upside-down cake). Marilynn and Sheila have appeared on local television and radio programs in 22 cities in 15 states, as well as in Canada, and have appeared three times at The James Beard House as part of the Beard on Books series.
The Brass Sisters have curated one of the country’s most comprehensive collections of culinary antiques, including: a copper batterie de cuisine from the early 19th century; chocolate, ice cream, candy, aspic and other food molds; menus; and food advertising signs and artifacts. Their collection includes 6,500 cookbooks, some dating from the 1600s, and 1,800 books on antiques.
WGBH, the public media organization, will receive $218.7 million in exchange for moving the over-the-air signals of its WGBH and WGBY stations from frequencies on the UHF band to the VHF band. The two stations broadcast from Boston and Springfield respectively…
For public broadcasters, the payday comes as President Trump has threatened to massively cut federal funding to their industry. The $218.7 million that the WGBH Educational Foundation will get equals about one year of the nonprofit company’s current operating budget.
“We felt the spectrum auction was a unique opportunity, knowing we could continue to provide all of our public media services to viewers, and simultaneously support and strengthen this valued organization,” Richard Burnes, chair of WGBH’s board of trustees, said.
WGBH officials said they intend to put the money into its endowment with the aim of funding a larger portion of its annual expenses from investment proceeds. That will help the broadcaster “expand its educational services to children and students, further its in-depth journalism, and strengthen its modest endowment,” WGBH said in a statement.
A third station owned by the foundation, WGBX 44 in Boston, wasn’t sold in the auction, but will probably need to change its signal anyway, as the FCC wants to relocate remaining UHF channels into lower frequencies to free up even more spectrum.
WGBH and other broadcasters that are changing frequencies can draw from a federal fund to pay for new equipment and labor needed to make the switch.
Whether producing documentaries or sailing to a country he had never visited, Zvi Dor-Ner was always searching for an adventure.
As an executive producer at WGBH-TV, he made it his mission to tell stories of daring, and among his career highlights was a 1992 documentary about Christopher Columbus, whose spirit of discovery paralleled Mr. Dor-Ner’s in many ways.
Despite the subjects he chose, though, Mr. Dor-Ner never overdramatized the stories and lives he portrayed in documentaries, said Peter McGhee, his former boss at WGBH.
“Television has great temptations for a producer because you can make things so exciting by manipulating images and sound,” said McGhee, a former vice president for national programming. “Zvi would never cheat. He would look for hard truths and look hard for the truth, but he was utterly faithful in his discoveries.”
Mr. Dor-Ner, an award-winning executive producer at WGBH for about 30 years who as a child lost most of his family in the Holocaust, died April 6 in his Brookline home of pancreatic cancer. He was 75.
There were other echoes of Columbus in Mr. Dor-Ner’s life, in addition to his documentary and his love for sailing. He named his last boat the Nina, after one of the three ships Columbus used on his trip across the Atlantic. Mr. Dor-Ner also had business cards printed with his title when he was aboard his sailboat: Captain of the Nina.
His adventurous spirit was contagious, family and friends said, and he was adamant about encouraging those around him to share his sense of curiosity…
Zvi Richard Dor-Ner was born in 1941 in what was then Lvov, Poland, the only child of Nathan Dor-Ner and the former Joanna Berl. Soon after Mr. Dor-Ner’s birth, German forces occupied Lvov, and many of his relatives were killed during the war.
His father died in Lublin Castle, a medieval castle in a city to the north where the Nazis had created a ghetto. Many thousands of Jews were imprisoned in Lublin before being sent to extermination camps.
Mr. Dor-Ner and his mother survived the war and moved to Israel when he was about 8. He served in the Israeli Intelligence Corps of the Israel Defense Forces, and also worked as a cameraman for a television network in Jerusalem.
He studied at Boston University, from which he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in communications…
Mr. Dor-Ner, who was a Nieman fellow after college, worked as a producer at WGBH for about three decades before retiring in 2009.
Producing documentaries, he chose topics that interested him, which was the case with “Columbus and the Age of Discovery.” That series “doubled the average PBS prime-time audience with its premiere,” according to Mr. Dor-Ner’s biography on the PBS website. Mr. Dor-Ner also wrote the companion book for the series.
Over the course of his career, his work took home honors including Emmy Awards, for work such as the series “Enterprise”; George Foster Peabody awards for “People’s Century” and “Shattered Dreams of Peace – The Road from Oslo”; and an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award for the series “Arabs and Israelis.”
“Zvi’s impressive portfolio includes some of WGBH’s proudest moments and reflects his wide-ranging curiosity and intellect,” Henry Becton, former president of WGBH and vice chairman of its board, said in a statement. “He was a master storyteller, and masterful at choreographing the complex international production partnerships that enabled such sweep and range.”
Mr. Dor-Ner’s credits also included “Apollo 13: To the Edge and Back,” the series “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age,” and “The Longest Hatred,” which examined anti-Semitism….
Regardless of where he lived, Mr. Dor-Ner was always in search of an adventure. His daughter Anna said she didn’t understand when she was younger why he frequently left to travel, but realized as she got older it was something he had to do.
“That has always been his passion. It was like his love,” she said. “He wasn’t as happy as he could be if he wasn’t sailing.”
Read the story at the Boston Globe
From WGBH QuickNooz
The WGBH community mourns with sadness the passing of Zvi Dor-Ner, former WGBH Exec Producer. Zvi died yesterday morning at age 75. He had been doing what he loved—skippering his beloved boat around the world—when in late January he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
Zvi began his distinguished career in 1966 as a WGBH news cameraman. He returned in 1979 after working in television in his native Israel and honing his journalistic skill as a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University. Before his 2009 departure from WGBH, Zvi executive-produced such milestone productions as the duPont-Columbia Award-winning series ARABS AND ISRAELIS; the International Emmy and George Foster Peabody Award-winning PEOPLE’S CENTURY; COLUMBUS AND THE AGE OF DISCOVERY, which doubled the average PBS prime-time audience with its premiere and for which he authored the series companion book; WAR AND PEACE IN THE NUCLEAR AGE; APOLLO 13: TO THE EDGE AND BACK; the Emmy Award-winning business series ENTERPRISE; and more than a dozen films for AMERICAN EXPERIENCE, FRONTLINE, and NOVA.
“Zvi’s impressive portfolio includes some of WGBH’s proudest moments and reflects his wide-ranging curiosity and intellect,” says WGBH Vice Chair and former President Henry Becton. “He was a master storyteller, and masterful at choreographing the complex international production partnerships that enabled such sweep and range.”
“Zvi was WGBH’s own Columbus,” recalls former VP for National Programming Peter McGhee. “He was resourceful, daring, and creative…a generous and loving man and loyal friend. His body of work is an enduring monument to and measure of the man.”
A service in Zvi’s memory will take place Tues, 4/11, 12 noon at Mount Auburn Cemetery’s Story Chapel. Rest in peace.
Zvi Dor-Ner, a longtime WGBH executive producer and NF ’77, died April 6 at his home in Brookline, Massachusetts from pancreatic cancer. He was 75.
Dor-Ner spent 30 years at WGBH, Boston’s PBS affiliate, starting as a cameraman and going on to produce several award-winning series and historical documentaries. He worked on celebrated programs such as “Apollo 13: To the Edge and Back,” “People’s Centruy,” “Columbus and the Age of Discovery,” “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age,” and “Arabs and Israelis,” along with more than a dozen films for “Nova,” “Frontline,” and “American Experience.” Throughout his career, Dor-Ner and the programs he produced won awards including a duPont-Columbia award and multiple Emmys and George Foster Peabody awards.
Born in Poland shortly before the Germans took the city in 1941, Dor-Ner and his mother escaped to Israel; his father and most of his immediate family members were killed by the Nazis. After serving in the Israeli army, Dor-Ner began his career in 1966 as a news cameraman at WGBH while earning a degree in communications at Boston University. Following his graduation, he returned to Israel to work as a camera operator, producer, and director for various entertainment and documentary programs for several years. After his Nieman Fellowship in 1976-77, he rejoined WGBH and stayed there until his retirement in 2009.
Preceded in death by his wife Alexandra Dane, who died in 1991, Dor-Ner is survived by his girlfriend, three daughters, and four grandsons.
Zvi Richard Dor-Ner, 75, died Thursday, April 6, 2017, at his home in Brookline, Massachusetts.
Zvi was born on July 13, 1941 in Lvov, Poland just weeks before the Germans took the city. His father Nathan and most of his immediate family were killed by the Nazis. Zvi and his mother Joanna (nee Berl) escaped to Israel where Zvi attended school, served in the army and began his career as a cameraman for Israeli television.
Zvi was a journalist and an exceptional story-teller. After graduating from Boston University and spending a year as a Nieman Fellow at Harvard, Zvi spent 30 years as an executive producer for WGBH, the Boston PBS affiliate. The historical documentaries he produced won many awards including a duPont-Columbia award, as well as multiple Emmys and George Foster Peabody awards. Zvi chose topics that were fascinating, complicated and often controversial. He transformed them into vivid and compelling stories– he had a natural gift for narrative which he honed, over decades, into a science.
Zvi loved sailing. He built his first boat at the age 12 and launched it from the beach in Bat Yam. As an adult he captained his ketch ‘Nina’ across the Atlantic several times exploring the Northeast, Caribbean and Mediterranean. He made a thorough study of dockside fish restaurants, maritime museums, cockpit sunsets and cold-water swims. Every year after his retirement in 2009, his friends looked forward to a letter from the ‘Meandering Navigator’ that would describe his anticipated four month itinerary and invite them along for two weeks at a time.
Even at home, he was everybody’s port in a storm. His guest room and kitchen were almost always inhabited by the recently heartbroken, the newly arrived, or the otherwise lost. He offered warmth and optimism but also clear-eyed perspective to all of them.
Zvi was married for 23 years to Alexandra Dane. Together they traveled all over the world, lived in Boston and Paris and Jerusalem and had two daughters: Daphne and Tamar. When Ali died in 1991, Zvi raised his 12 and 13 year old daughters alone. In 1997, Zvi had his third daughter, Anna, with his then-partner Win Lenihan. From the beginning, Tamar, Daphne and Anna have enjoyed and adored each other.
Zvi was an exceptional and unusual father. He had high expectations when it came to academics but never missed a chance to take his daughters out of school to travel the world. He cultivated their skepticism and their independence – even when it came at the expense of their alignment to his point of view.
As a father of three daughters, Zvi was delighted by his four grandsons and they were delighted by him.
He is missed by friends all over the world, in Israel, Poland, Paris, Portugal, London and beyond. In addition to his three daughters, he is survived by his four grandsons, Henry, Felix, Gideon, and Abe, and his girlfriend Pesya Altman.
A service for Zvi will be held at noon on Tuesday, April 11th at the Story Chapel in Mount Auburn Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Nieman Foundation (to promote and elevate the standards of journalism, nieman.harvard.edu) or to Etgarim (empowerment and social integration of people with disabilities, etgarim.org).
Since Zvi paid a lot of attention to historical facts, I would like to correct some points mentioned in the obituary:
Zvi was actually born two weeks before German troops took Lvov. His mother did not have a chance to escape to Israel as Israel did not exist yet. It was by chance that he was born in Lvov; they were actually living in Lublin at the time.
His father, with a “Jewish” appearance, had to hide in surrounding villages while his blond-haired mother was working as a nurse in Lublin hospital having little dyed-hair Rysio (Zvi’s given name) with her. His father and an uncle were taken by Germans and later shot in Lublin Castle.
Just before withdrawing in 1944, the Nazis massacred its remaining 300 prisoners and Zvi’s father and uncle were among them. It was a very important fact for Zvi. The names of the father and uncle were put on a monument in Lublin just recently and Zvi was planning to go there in July to participate in an anniversary of the massacre.
After the father had been arrested Joanna escaped from Lublin and, after long voyages, was hidden with little Rysio by a Polish railwayman in Lowicz where they stayed until the end of the war under a fake name Bialozorski.
They lived in Cracow after the war and went to Israel in 1949 where Rysio was placed in a boarding school while his mother went to live in Paris, and this influenced his future emotional life. In Israel, Rysio Dorner (Bialozorski at that time) became Zvi Richard Dor-Ner.
I met Richard when he was already retired and wanted to spend more time sailing; he always had discoverers in mind. Richard, who had sailed all his life, bought his current boat in 1993. With American flag S.V. NINA, he sailed extensively on the US east coast and with which he has crossed the Atlantic in 2000. Since then he criss-crossed the Mediterranean from West to East and from North to South, often more then once. I belonged to that part of his life. We crossed on the Nina East to West in 2013.
This is what Zvi wrote about himself on his sailing profile:
I have sailed since childhood. When I did not sail, I was a TV producer of documentaries on historical subjects. I have done it for many years and as a result know something about documentaries and history. I have published two books: one about Columbus and the age of Discovery and one an Emergency Action Guide for Sail and Motor Yachts. This in addition to more then 300 documentaries. I am qualified as Yachtmaster offshore by RYA and have a 100-ton license from the USCG. I crossed the Atlantic back and forth. I sailed extensively in Europe and the Mediterranean. Now I sail in the Caribbean and central America.
We cruise for several months every year. The boat is left in a different port when I don’t sail then I pick it up with a crew of friends and sail for 5-6 months. While I stay on board all the time, most of the crew changes every 3-4 weeks. I like to have a crew that knows sailing and something else very well. For each segment I like to assemble a crew of 2 or 3 that is diverse and interesting with a mix of talents, skills, knowledge and experience. Most of the times it works extremely well.”
Richard’s wrote this after crossing the Atlantic in 2013 (12/27/2013):
Today, in the morning, Nina entered the “Galleon Passage” between Trinidad and Tobago. It is only thirty miles wide, but we see neither of the two islands. It is disappointing to pass, what is an important marker on our trip without seeing it. One way or another, on the basis of GPS the Atlantic Crossing is over. It did not change, the Atlantic. It is still just the same as it has been for the last few days, gray, overcast, with occasional rain and, as we still sail with wind and swell just astern, very very rolling. We have another seventy miles before we drop anchor or dock.
This is the fifteen and last day of our passage. For a cruising boat our size it was a very fast transit indeed, all of it under sail. In fact, for the whole trip we have been flying just one sail, our large 140 percent Genua. It is rigged with its working sheet lead through a snatch block attached to the end of the main boom which is extended, with a boom vang, to all the way out to port or starboard depending if the trade are blowing from slightly North or slightly South of East.
The only sailing maneuver we carried out was to jibe occasionally and furl and unfurl the sail frequently, almost akin to changing gears while driving.
We have been lucky with trade winds. A very high pressure era above Bermuda and the Azores provided those. We seldom had wind of less then twenty knots, frequently for days and nights at a time, we where powered by 35 knots of wind.
Our speed log registered speeds it has never seen before, of 10, 12 and 13 knots as we surfed down 16-foot waves. This was a blessing, but there was also a punishment. The strong winds produced a huge massy swell coupled with another distinctive wave train from slightly different direction combining in a distracting, disorganized, yet powerful sea that hived and shook us in many uncomfortable ways.
The swell rolled Nina terribly, often from gunwale to gunwale, in the first days inducing semi-seasickness and limiting all of us to only the most basic and necessary actions. Eventually it became just a nuisance requiring a lot of energy and planing for the simplest action, making a sandwich for example.
Sixty feet up from the deck, the top of the mast will move violently through such rolls, inscribing a very large arc. Frequently this would force the air out of the sail which will then snap violently as it refills with wind on its swings back to the other side. The sound of this routine was like a gun shot and as wrenching. You kind of know that the sail can’t take this kind of punishment forever, sometime it will have to give in and tear itself to shreds, or destroy its fittings…It did not do that, but the possibility was constantly on my mind and it was it scary…
We had equipment failure on small and large scale. Often, I was able to deal with problems then and there, while other remain waiting. The Genset, which creates electricity to charge batteries and toys, died on the second day. A sunny, happy Spanish mechanic fixed the atomizer of its little diesel just before departure; he changed the two bolts holding the injector down and one of those tore. We had to charge batteries by running the main engine two hours a day and face the fact that this was our only way to generate electricity.
Our automatic pilot worked great in the worst conditions but gave up eventually, now we mostly have to stear manually. Steering manually in a following wind and great swell requires a total concentration and doing it for six hours a day is just tough.
However it sounds, none of it was grim, it was not even hard, even if often tiring. We had great time. For me there was the added tension of being in charge, and having, presumably, have answers to every contingency. I did not, and often there are no good answer beside endurance.
Now it is all over, the Atlantic is smaller. The experience of dealing with it in such an intensive way will sink in eventually and be digested on another level than the nuts and bolts, both actual and figurative.
I had been awarded a scholarship to get a master degree in Communication at Boston University. I would receive a $600 stipend to live on for a year. Also, I had to work three days a week at a small educational TV station, WGBH, Channel 2. I had hoped to go to Yale Drama school but I had no money and this gave me a chance to stop living at home and explore a new city. I felt lucky.
Then the unbelievable happened. A fellow grad from my class at Marquette University had also been given the same scholarship! This was very unusual. I am not sure one school had two members of the program. I suspect that our friend Bill Heitz, who had received the scholarship the year before, had done some heavy lobbying. Tom and I celebrated, excited and not without some fears.
How were we going to get to Boston? That could chip away at our stipend. This is where Dave Nohling comes to the rescue. Dave had graduated from Wisconsin University in Madison Wisconsin and also received the scholarship!
Even more importantly, he had a CAR! We would drive to Boston and share the expenses! Yea!
Tom and I waited on that summer day surrounded by our luggage. We told Dave to pick us up on Highway 41, in Milwaukee, near Leon’s Custard Stand. And there he came with his great old black car! We climbed in and off we went.
We drove into the vast Midwest, planning and talking about our future. We planned to drive straight thru and save the cost of a motel. We decided to room together sharing the costs. This was going to be some year!
Somewhere in Indiana, Dave said he always wanted to see NY city. Me too. And Tom lets go for it. With a whoop and holler the old Ford plowed thru the night towards the Big Apple.
I knew a number of would-be-actors living in the city. This is a place where we can crash. It was Mattresses Place, since the only furniture were mattresses. There were many living there, each working as waiters at local restaurants.
I knew they would let us crash.
Dave’s car rumbled on as we belted out the song New York, New York!
We bought a couple of quarts of beer in the city and presented to the Marquette gang as a thank you for letting us crash at their pad.
The next morning we headed off to Boston when Dave said we had to see Grand Central Station! The old Ford weaved its way thru the traffic and there it was. Where the hell do we park? Dave pulled over into a no parking area, got out of the car, lifted the hood and looked like he was trying to fix the engine. He told Tom and myself to go take a quick look, come back and stare at the engine, while he runs inside to grab a look. Dave made this trip an amazing adventure.
When Tom and I arrived inside Grand Central Station, we could not believe our eyes! There he was. One of the great movie directors, sitting in a director chair in the middle of Grand Central Station. There were lights, cameras, and actors…it was Alfred Hitchcock. Directing North by North West. There was Cary Grant … Eva Marie Saint. This was the frosting on the cake.
Tom and I ran back to Dave, told him what was going on inside, he yelled in pleasure as he ran off to see Hitchcock. Tom and I looked at the engine hoping that no policeman would tell us to move on. Dave came back with the biggest smile I ever saw. We got in the car and headed to Boston. We didn’t say much this time. Just drove and kind of realized that our lives had really changed.
And then there it was, Boston.
Dave turned on his radio and searched the dial. And there it was … classical music on the AM dial! Can you believe it? The only classical music station in Milwaukee was on FM and wattage so low hardly anyone could hear it. I had left behind Milwaukee’s three B’s: Beer, Baseball and Bowling. And now I was in Boston with its three B’s: Brahms, Beethoven and Bach. This was going to be some kind of year. Thanks Dave for the ride I will never forget.
Purple Panda on ‘Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood’
By John Hayes, Post-Gazette Staff Writer – November 28, 2002
It was David L. Nohling’s elevated sense of humor that set him apart, not the bulky, purple, quilted costume that he wore on “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” Mr. Nohling, who originated the role of Purple Panda, died Sunday at Chicago’s Northwestern Memorial Hospital of non-Hodgkins lymphoma. He was 65.
Born in Kenosha, Wis., he followed a five-year stint in the Air Force with a job at a Boston public television station. He moved to Pittsburgh in 1968 to work off-camera at WQED, where he served as a producer/director, associate director of School Services programs, and executive assistant. His jovial nature led him on-camera. Mr. Nohling was a popular fixture on WQED’s benefit auctions.
“He was always willing to wear a costume and act funny,” said Fran Nohling, 66, his wife of 42 years. “Our children would turn on the auction and there was their father in a tutu wearing a wig. One day at the station at lunch, Fred Rogers said, ‘You have a great face for a puppet.'”
During the 1970s, Mr. Nohling originated the role of the gregarious Purple Panda with the robotic voice.
“Many people have worn the Purple Panda costume through the years,” said Rogers, “but David Nohling … set the stage and the tone for what this character would be. Through his voice and his actions, he was able to create a character that, even though he was very big, children were never afraid of it. One of the reasons was that David had an advanced sense of whimsy.”
While in Pittsburgh, Mr. Nohling taught broadcast communication at Robert Morris College, Carlow College and the University of Pittsburgh. He left WQED in 1981 and relocated his family to a town outside Chicago, where he produced corporate videos for Arthur Anderson and assisted the United Way.
“He always brought humor into his presentation style and he was just like that at home, too,” said Fran Nohling. “He was a man who liked to have fun and spread it around.”
“Nova,” PBS’s science series produced by WGBH, has launched its first crowdfunding campaign to raise money for a sequel to its popular 2012 special “Hunting the Elements.”
The “Nova” Kickstarter campaign, announced Tuesday, has a base goal of $1 million, which would support the production of “Beyond the Elements,” a follow-up to “Hunting the Elements,” which explored the periodic table and molecules. If the campaign raises $250,000 more, “Nova” will provide free educational support materials for teachers to use in classrooms, including ideas about activities and experiments.
If $1.5 million is raised, “Nova” will create its first virtual reality experience to allow viewers to “go inside of the world of molecules.” Additional donations beyond $1.5 million will help “Nova” send DVDs of “Hunting the Elements” and “Beyond the Elements” to public high schools across the United States.