WETA Launches CancerFilms.org on November 10 to Collect and Share Personal Experiences of Those Affected by CancerWNYC is Named Official Radio Partner; Will Produce Companion Audio Content for National Broadcast in Early 2015
Stand Up To Cancer and WETA Washington, D.C., Convene Unprecedented Group of Partners to Create a National Conversation About Cancer, Including Online Initiatives and Public Screenings of the Film Across the U.S.
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) — November 10, 2014 —Ken Burns Presents CANCER: THE EMPEROR OF ALL MALADIES, a three-part, six-hour documentary directed by award-winning filmmaker Barak Goodman and executive produced by Ken Burns, will air on PBS March 30-April 1, 2015, WETA Washington, D.C. announced today. The project, which includes the documentary and a comprehensive national engagement campaign, is a collaboration between Florentine Films, Laura Ziskin Pictures, WETA, Ark Media, Stand Up to Cancer and an array of other project supporters, and is based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning book by Siddhartha Mukherjee, M.D., The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer (Simon & Schuster 2010). WNYC, New York City’s flagship public radio station and premier producer of local and national programming, is the official radio partner.
CancerFilms.org, the newly expanded website with social and interactive media components created in conjunction with the documentary, was launched today, November 10, 2014. The project website features an innovative digital short film series executive produced by Ken Burns and created by Redglass Pictures. Each of these conversation-starting short films showcases the intimate story of a cancer patient, caregiver, researcher or survivor and invites the viewer to engage with the project themes. Among those who have contributed stories to the project are actress Maura Tierney, actor Terrence Howard, New York Times Columnist Suleika Jaouad and the Physician-in-Chief at Memorial Sloan Kettering, Dr. Jose Baselga. Six stories from this series can be viewed now on the project’s Producers’ Blog at the following link: http://cancerfilmblog.org. Additional films will be released in the months leading up to the March 2015 broadcast premiere.
The interactive website includes a mixture of produced and user-generated content exploring the three aspects of the series: a riveting historical documentary, an engrossing and intimate vérité film that focuses on current patients, and a scientific report. The website is intended for the vast cancer community of patients and survivors, family members, caregivers, scientists, clinicians and other healthcare providers — but also the public at large. Everyone can share their stories now at CancerFilms.org, engage with the project on Twitter via @CancerFilm or project hashtag #CancerFilm, and visit the project on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/CancerFilm.
In addition to the television broadcast premiere, in early 2015, WNYC, the official radio partner for the project, will produce two series of in-depth, narrative reports for broadcast nationally on NPR’s news magazine shows. WNYC reporters have been conducting interviews across the country with patients, doctors and scientists, developing stories that illuminate the frontiers of cancer research and treatment and complement the filmmakers’ work. The first series, “Critical Decisions,” exploring the difficult decisions cancer patients and those who care for them must make, will air in January 2015. The second series, “Living Cancer,” will air in March 2015, exploring how cancer diagnosis and treatment can affect patients long after their initial diagnosis. Also in March, On The Media, WNYC’s nationally-distributed, Peabody Award-winning media analysis program, will air a special episode on cancer and the media, an important theme of Dr. Mukherjee’s book. WNYC’s reports for CANCER: THE EMPEROR OF ALL MALADIES are part of its expanding health coverage, whose supporters include the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Iris and Junming Le Foundation, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Susan and Peter Solomon Family Foundation, and the Winston Foundation.
The expanded launch of CancerFilms.org kicks off a broader national outreach and engagement campaign surrounding the film created by WETA Washington, D.C., the flagship public broadcasting station in the nation’s capital and production partner on all Ken Burns films, and Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C), a program of the Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF) that works to accelerate innovative cancer research and to increase awareness about progress being made in the fight against the disease. This companion initiative will be one of the largest, most comprehensive engagement programs in the history of documentary filmmaking. Elements of the campaign will include educational materials, screenings of the film, participation in major medical and health conferences, and a robust digital footprint intended to spearhead a national conversation about the history of this disease, the personal experience of those afflicted, the groundbreaking research underway, and the quest for a cure.
The events, presented in coordination with local public television stations and a wide range of educational, medical and cancer organizations, will feature screenings of excerpts from the six-hour film, and Q&A discussions with the filmmakers and project partners. Confirmed cities include Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia, Tulsa, Phoenix, Dallas, Boca Raton, San Francisco, Baltimore, San Diego, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and New York.
The CANCER: THE EMPEROR OF ALL MALADIES project origins date back to when Stand Up To Cancer’s Co-Founder Laura Ziskin obtained the film rights to Dr. Mukherjee’s book in 2010. Simultaneously, WETA President and CEO Sharon Percy Rockefeller read Dr. Mukherjee’s book during treatment for cancer at The Johns Hopkins Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center in Baltimore. Shortly thereafter, Rockefeller connected with Burns and Ziskin in early 2011 and planning for the documentary quickly began.
“Cancer touches nearly everyone in this country, and public media can play a vital role in educating Americans about this disease,” Rockefeller said. “We will illuminate cancer as never before, exploring in depth its history, sharing the experiences of those battling it, and offering new hope by spotlighting some of the most extraordinary research being done today. When I read Sid’s amazing work and met him, I knew he and Ken could create a film that would inform and inspire us all. With Stand Up To Cancer and other key organizations as project supporters — and harnessing the resources, reach and power of the entire public broadcasting system — we will profoundly reshape Americans’ understanding and perception of cancer.”
“I am of course honored to have an opportunity to work with such accomplished filmmakers and with such inspiring partners,” Dr. Mukherjee noted. “Emperor very much grew out of my experience as a cancer physician trying to navigate and to understand this historic disease. Treating cancer is one of the most significant human challenges we’ve ever faced. But now, for the first time, we are at an extraordinary moment in the history of cancer research because we finally are beginning to understand what causes cancer at a cellular, or molecular, or a genetic level in a way we just did not know ten years ago or even five years ago. This project will provide the public with a clearer vision of where we are in this extraordinary journey.”
Ken Burns said, “My work as a filmmaker is directly linked to the death of my mother from cancer when I was 11. From the age of three, I watched her suffer and struggle with this awful disease, forever creating for me a desire to explore the past and to listen deeply to the stories that we all have to tell. I was frightened and exhilarated by Sid’s book and thrilled by Sharon’s suggestion that we collaborate to turn this remarkable accomplishment into a film.”
Barak Goodman, who in addition to directing the film serves as the series producer, observed, “This is such a rich, historic and still tragic story that it challenges us as filmmakers every day. But it is also a moment of great optimism that at last we may be turning the tables on this disease. I want people to come away from our film with less fear and more hope about the future of cancer.”
“We applaud Sharon’s vision for this project and know that bringing together the creative forces of Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee, Ken Burns and Barak Goodman will result in a powerful film,” said Paula A. Kerger, PBS President and CEO. “Leveraging the power of PBS stations, Stand Up To Cancer and other partners, this wide-reaching initiative will create an important dialogue about this terrible disease. This is just the kind of content of consequence that is the hallmark of public media.”
“Thousands of people are diagnosed with cancer each year, and each story of how an individual has confronted the disease is valuable to our understanding of the human experience of cancer,” said Laura Walker, New York Public Radio President and CEO, which owns and operates WNYC. “We are very proud to be a content partner with CANCER: THE EMPEROR OF ALL MALADIES, reporting these intimate stories that will help us to understand this disease and give us hope for the future.”
The extensive engagement program has been created in collaboration with an unprecedented array of supporters. Production supporters include Genentech, Cancer Treatment Centers of America, Siemens, David H. Koch, Bristol-Myers Squibb, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Kovler Fund, The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, the American Association for Cancer Research, the American Cancer Society, Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C), a program of the Entertainment Industry Foundation, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and PBS. These organizations will enable the project to reach an even larger audience, engaging researchers, patients and the general public in the national conversation about the topic.
WETA will also create a curriculum based on the film that will be shared with teachers in schools throughout the country, and the project has plans to provide materials to colleges, universities, and nursing and medical schools.
“The national outreach for this film will be unprecedented in scope and impact,” said Stand Up To Cancer Co-Founder and journalist Katie Couric. “One in two men and one in three women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetimes. We firmly believe that if we are able to further engage the country in a meaningful conversation about the disease, we can better help the doctors and scientists working 24/7 to end it. Today’s research holds extraordinary promise, and since we are all affected by cancer, it’s important everyone understands that.”
Ken Burns Presents CANCER: THE EMPEROR OF ALL MALADIES A Film by Barak Goodman is a production of Florentine Films, Laura Ziskin Pictures and WETA Washington, D.C., in association with Ark Media. Executive Producer and Senior Creative Consultant: Ken Burns. Written by Geoffrey Ward and Kenneth L. Burns; and Barak Goodman and David Blistein. Based on the book The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee. Produced and directed by Barak Goodman. Executive Producers: Dalton Delan, David S. Thompson, Pamela Oas Williams and Laura Ziskin.
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About WETA Washington, D.C.
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 premiere this past September 14-20 of The Roosevelts: An Intimate History. More information on WETA and its programs and services is available at http://www.weta.org.
About Stand Up To Cancer
Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) was established in 2008 by film and media leaders who utilize the industry’s resources to engage the public in supporting a new, collaborative model of cancer research, and to increase awareness about progress being made in the fight against the disease. SU2C raises funds to accelerate the pace of research that will get new therapies to patients quickly and save lives now.
Current members of the SU2C Council of Founders and Advisors (CFA) include Talk Show Host, Journalist and well-known Cancer Advocate Katie Couric; Sherry Lansing, Chairperson of the Entertainment Industry Foundation’s Board of Directors and Founder of the Sherry Lansing Foundation; EIF President and CEO Lisa Paulsen; EIF Senior Vice President Kathleen Lobb; Rusty Robertson and Sue Schwartz of the Robertson Schwartz Agency; Pamela Oas Williams, President of Laura Ziskin Productions and Executive Producer of Stand Up To Cancer’s In-house Production Team, and Non-profit Executive Ellen Ziffren. The late co-founder Laura Ziskin executive produced SU2C’s 2008 and 2010 “roadblock” televised fundraising specials, and all current members of the CFA were co-producers of the 2012 and 2014 shows. Sung Poblete, Ph.D., R.N., has served as SU2C’s president and CEO since 2011. More information is available at http://www.standup2cancer.org.
About New York Public Radio
New York Public Radio is home to three of the country’s leading public radio stations — WNYC FM, WNYC AM and WQXR FM — as well as New Jersey Public Radio and The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space. WNYC is a major producer of original content for public radio nationwide. WQXR is New York City’s only all-classical music station. New Jersey Public Radio covers the issues that matter in the garden state and extends New York Public Radio’s news, talk and cultural programming deeper into New Jersey. The Greene Space is a street-front broadcast studio and live venue where audiences can experience our programming in person and online. New York Public Radio’s online platforms include wnyc.org, wqxr.org, njpublicradio.org and thegreenespace.org. To learn more about New York Public Radio, visit http://www.nypublicradio.org.