Showing posts with label PBS. Show all posts
Showing posts with label PBS. Show all posts

Saturday, February 7, 2015


WETA, in Partnership with the National Italian American Foundation, to Hold a Multi-City Screening and Public Discussion Tour

 THE ITALIAN AMERICANS, a new two-part, four-hour documentary series about the Italian experience in America, will premiere on PBS on Tuesdays, February 17 and 24, 2015, 9–11 p.m. ET (check local listings), WETA announced today. The series, written and produced by John Maggio and narrated by Academy Award-nominated actor Stanley Tucci, explores the evolution of Italian Americans from the late nineteenth century to today, from “outsiders” once viewed with suspicion and mistrust to some of the most prominent leaders of business, politics and the arts today.

In support of the broadcast of THE ITALIAN AMERICANS, WETA, the producing public television station for the series, in partnership with National Italian American Foundation (NIAF), the nation’s leading organization for Americans of Italian heritage and a community engagement partner for the project, are organizing public screenings and discussions that will explore Italian contributions to American culture, and how Italians redefined American identity. Screening events are scheduled to take place in New York, Washington, D.C., Miami, Philadelphia, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

The tour launched in Seattle on September 23 at NIAF’s annual Festa Italiana Luncheon in conjunction with the NIAF/Frank J. Guarini Media Forum at the Seattle Yacht Club, where filmmaker Maggio served as the keynote speaker and presented the audience with highlights from the series.

THE ITALIAN AMERICANS reveals the unique and distinctive qualities of one immigrant group’s experience, and how these qualities, over time, have shaped and challenged America. Unlike other immigrant groups, many Italians did not come to America to stay. At the turn of the 20th century, most came to work, earn money to support their families, and eventually return home. Nearly half of the first generation Italian immigrants did return to Italy. For those that made America home, their struggle to maintain a distinct Italian culture was guided by remarkably powerful ideals of family that had always been at the center of their lives. In the Italian family, the needs of the collective came before the individual — a value system often at odds with American ideals of freedom and personal choice. While the power of the Italian family became a source of strength, it also bred suspicion, popularized in popular media as a dark, criminal element. This clash of culture echoed through generations of Italian Americans and, as they entered positions of political, social and cultural influence, it has left its mark on the American landscape.

“The first waves of Italian immigrants in this country weren’t embraced very warmly by mainstream society,” said Maggio. “There were basically held at arm’s length and looked upon with a certain amount of disdain and suspicion.  But eventually, the children of those first immigrants, and their children, began to gain a foothold in positions of power, and would become some of the most influential and important leaders of American life in the 20th century.”

Sharon Percy Rockefeller, president and chief executive officer of WETA, said, “This series will share with public television audiences a universal aspect of the immigrant story — the struggle of a group to adapt to a new environment and become participants in American life — while also spotlighting the distinct experience and unique, engaging culture of Italian Americans.”

“Our series strips away the stereotypes about Italian Americans to reveal a complicated and rich narrative, little understood by most Americans,” said Jeff Bieber, executive producer for WETA. “As we have shown in all our initiatives on immigration, American history is far more muddled and chaotic then what is typically taught in school. The more we understand our sometimes troubled past, the stronger we become as a people.”

John M. Viola, president of NIAF, said, “When our NIAF leadership team first had the opportunity to view this film, we were so thrilled to find a project that told our community’s story in an objective and engaging manner.  John Maggio has created the film that I had wished to see for so many years and I believe that everyone in our community who tunes in will find something of themselves and their family in this wonderful project.”

Through extensive archival materials and interviews with scholars and notable Italian Americans such as Tony Bennett, Dion DiMucci, David Chase, Gay Talese and John Turturro, who speak from personal experience, THE ITALIAN AMERICANS tells the story of those who played vital roles in shaping the relationship between Italians and mainstream American society. These include the stories of the following individuals:

Amadeo Giannini, who founded the Bank of Italy in 1904 in San Francisco to help Italians who could not secure loans or financial assistance elsewhere. He would later build it into the largest financial institution in the country and rename it Bank of America.
Arturo Giovannitti, the union activist and poet who led the Lawrence Textile Strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts in 1912.
Rudolph Valentino, who introduced a new image of the sex symbol to movie audiences of the 1920s, yet still endured the prejudices directed at Italians of southern extraction
Joe DiMaggio, who became one of the most celebrated baseball players of his generation, but whose parents were labeled “Enemy Aliens” during World War II.
U.S. Representative Nancy Pelosi, New York Governor Mario Cuomo and Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, who each broke new ground for Italian Americans in public service

The series also presents the expertise and insights of historians, scholars, journalists and authors including Donna Gabaccia, Thomas Guglielmo, Gerald Meyer, Robert Orsi, Mary Anne Trasciatti, Lawrence DiStasi, Bruce Watson, Stephen Fox and Selwyn Raab.
A companion book of the same title by journalist Maria Laurino, published by W.W. Norton, will also be released in December 2014, tied to the project activities.

THE ITALIAN AMERICANS is a production of WETA Washington, D.C., and Ark Media, in association with John Maggio Productions. The series executive producers are Jeff Bieber and Dalton Delan. The series writer and producer is John Maggio. The producers are Muriel Soenens and Julia Marchesi. The music composer is Gary Lionelli. The editors are George O’Donnell and Seth Bomse. The narrator is Stanley Tucci. Special thanks to project community engagement and promotion partner The National Italian American Foundation ( Corporate funding is provided by DelGrosso Foods. Foundation funding is provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations and the Annenberg Foundation. Major funding is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and by the Public Broadcasting Service.


About WETA
WETA Washington, D.C., is one of the largest producing stations of new content for public television in the United States. WETA productions and co-productions include PBS NEWSHOUR, WASHINGTON WEEK WITH GWEN IFILL, THE KENNEDY CENTER MARK TWAIN PRIZE, IN PERFORMANCE AT THE WHITE HOUSE, and documentaries by filmmaker Ken Burns, including THE STORY OF CANCER: THE EMPEROR OF ALL MALADIES, premiering in Spring 2015. More information on WETA and its programs and services is available at

About NIAF
The mission of the National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) is to serve as a resource for the Italian American Community; to preserve the Italian American heritage and culture; to promote and inspire a positive image and legacy of Italian Americans; and to strengthen and empower ties between the United States and Italy. For more infomraiotn, visit

About PBS
PBS, with its over 350 member stations, offers all Americans the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television and online content. Each month, PBS reaches nearly 120 million people through television and over 29 million people online, inviting them to experience the worlds of science, history, nature and public affairs; to hear diverse viewpoints; and to take front row seats to world-class drama and performances. PBS’ broad array of programs has been consistently honored by the industry’s most coveted award competitions. Teachers of children from pre-K through 12th grade turn to PBS for digital content and services that help bring classroom lessons to life. PBS’ premier children’s TV programming and its website,, are parents’ and teachers’ most trusted partners in inspiring and nurturing curiosity and love of learning in children. More information about PBS is available at, one of the leading dot-org websites on the Internet, or by following PBS on Twitter, Facebook or through our apps for mobile devices. Specific program information and updates for press are available at or by following PBS Pressroom on Twitter.

About CPB
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), a private, non-profit corporation created by Congress in 1967, is the steward of the federal government’s investment in public broadcasting. It helps support the operations of more than 1,300 locally owned and operated public television and radio stations nationwide, and is the largest single source of funding for research, technology and program development for public radio, television and related online services. More information about CPB is available at

Dan Roberti/Brian Moriarty, Dan Klores Communications (DKC), 212-685-4300;

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Rick Steves Travels To: Rome, Italy: The Ancient Forum

You know what they say, 'when in Rome, do as the Romans do.' If you've never been to Rome, your missing one of the most historical and educational trips of a lifetime. To be in Rome is to be in the middle of history. The structures, streets, architecture leave you in awe and all the while you're standing in modern day Rome. Watch this tour with travel guru Rick Steves as he ventures into historic and new Rome.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

JOURNEY OF HOPE –THE FILM Featuring Local Italian American Set To Premiere At Garden State Film Festival in New Jersey

This year's Garden State Film Festival 2011 will feature the film 'JOURNEY OF HOPE- The Film' produced by award winning Italian American Marino Amoruso, the same producer of 'PRIDE & PASSION: THE ITALIANS IN AMERICA, a very successful film which premiered on PBS.

'Journey of Hope - The Film' features local New Jersey business owner and Italian American Joe Leone Introna who travels to L'Aquila, Italy to volunteer and help the people, who suffered great hardship after a devastating and powerful earthquake wiped out the entire town. Joe along with friends and volunteers traveled to the devastated town where they offered the victims clothes, shoes, comfort, bedding and much more.

The film captures Joe as he connects with the people of L'Aquila and gives a raw look inside the loss and devastation the citizens endured. What makes this film very special for Italian Americans is the fact that Joe is Italian American but his family comes from the Bari region, not L'Aquila, but his nature to help his Italian ancestors extended to the mere fact that he wanted to just help. It says a lot about a person's character. This film is powerful.

With today's headlines in Japan and the absolute devastation that most of can not comprehend, this particular film gives you an idea how powerful one person can be when the goal is to help those in need. Joe and his team continue to work on raising on funds for the relief effort in L'Aquila.

For more information on Joe Leone Introna, Marino Amoruso and to donate visit:

I call on all Italian Americans to come to the premiere and show your support:

Journey Of Hope L'Aquila Earthquake Relief Fund

Date: Thursday March 31st

Time: 7:30PM

Place: Paramount Theatre



Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Faces of America - Immigrant Stories of Famous Americans on PBS

As you know I am always talking about the immigrant story because for me its a very close connection. My father came to America in the 1950s and then my mother later in the 1960s. I am always so intrigued with the story on how my father decided to leave Italy and journey to a place where he knew no one and had nothing. This new show on PBS, called, "Faces of America" really takes an in depth look into the immigrant's story and but what makes it so unique is that they profile famous people, including Meryl Streep, Mario Batali and many others. If you have an opportunity to watch it, you must.. its on PBS.

Faces of America premieres nationally Wednesdays, February 10 - March 3, 2010 from 8-9 p.m. ET on PBS

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Rick Steves Travels To Cinque Terre, Italy: Hiking in Corniglia

One of my favorite shows on public television is hosted by travel expert Rick Steves. In this episode you can see Rick travel to one of Italy's most amazing regions: Cinque Terre. The more I watch these segments, the more I realize I need to be in Italy. Enjoy and thank you Rick Steves for always doing such a fantastic job of showcasing the best of Europe.


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Great Performances: Vivere: Andrea Bocelli Live in Tuscany, On PBS November 27th, 2008

If you love Andrea Bocelli, then you must tune into Great Performances: Vivere: Andrea Bocelli Live in Tuscany on PBS, this Thursday November 27th at 9:00 pm. Please check your local listing on PBS, for the correct listing times. I won't miss this.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

How in the world are we going to get young Italian Americans to preserve their heritage when we're surrounded by negative stereotypes in the media..??

Lately, I feel like I'm surrounded by this negative Italian American stereotyping. But, I have to say its not stereotyping by other cultural seems our own home grown Italian Americans are putting themselves in this box of negativity. By this, I mean acting like or comparing themselves to 'mobsters' or 'wise guy' type personas. Now, we have shows like the Sopranos, which was attacked because of the negative stereotyping. But mind you I think the problem with that show is the audience and not the show. Granted, ok..why isn't the show called some other ethnic last name...? The answer is simple, its about capitalizing on an negative image that many people are fascinated with which makes everyone money.

What makes this even worse is that most Italian Americans lets say from the tri-state area can't seem to separate fact from fiction. Yes, you may know someone who looks or acts like Tony Soprano, but really is that what every Italian American looks or acts like? Yes, I do know a few people who look and act like that too...but I know the difference between fact and fiction. Just because a show is shot in New Jersey and your neighbor is kinda shady, doesn't mean they're in the mob.

So, the responsibility of keeping the Italian American image upstanding does also belong to the audience-YOU. Now, many of you scholars will say its more than that and television programmers, producers and studios need to stop this type of defamation, which I agree. I will also say as a television producer that if we never produced anything about this (which is a factual part of history-organized crime) then television would not exist and no one would produce anything. Again, I reiterate we should all be responsible for our own actions and image portrayals.

I don't watch the Sopranos because to be honest with you...its a little much for me, but if I do catch a re-run..I don't feel the need to go out and get acrylic nails and act like Carmella Soprano. Its up to the rest of us as producers, writers, teachers, professors, professionals to upkeep the Italian American image. This ties into my original question, how can we keep the attention and interest in our heritage with young Italian Americans? I realize I'm lucky because I am very close in the generation gap of being Italian American and I think it must be harder for the 2nd, 3rd and 4th generations to keep the traditions, culture and social characteristics within reach.

Its all about education. If we can keep the younger generations interested in what its about then we can succeed in preserving our heritage. For every Soprano show, there should be more positive, savvy programming to counter the negative imagery. You can't have any good if there's no bad. So, if the Sopranos show exists, then it exists- but we have to educate and be more media responsible to portray all the images of being Italian American.

This leads me into general media and television programming. For example, I was watching PBS, and there was an Italian American show about promoting an Italian American music CD. The whole show including hosts from PBS was a complete disgrace. Usually, I love anything PBS including their educational and cultural productions. But, this was just not right, you have a few cast members from the Sopranos promoting a CD and their latest projects. It seems to me they put themselves in their negative Italian-American stereotype characters and literally act like that typical gangster persona to capitalize on their careers. Is this real? Are they for real? Maybe they're for real, but if we're going to show one type of Italian American, then you must show all types of Italian American. So, again..there isn't much Italian American programming on television. (PERIOD) I can only hope that we can produce Italian American programming in the near future that portrays all of us. If not, our generation, my generation-- will truly begin to believe that Italian Americans are gangsters and talk like they have meatballs in their mouth with limited vocabulary and Cadillacs in their driveway.

I'll finish this off by saying yes, there are people who are really for real and act like this because that's who they are and don't capitalize on it, then there are those who act like this and capitalize on it to create the negative stereotype. We must be fair and educate on all parts of the Italian American. I'm on a roll today, too much bullshit out there and nothing real. Let's get real. Get me interested!