A Look Ahead from WPT Director of Programming Garry Denny

December 2, 2011 Wisconsin Public Television Leave a Comment

Garry Denny is Director of Programming for Wisconsin Public Television. For more than 12 years he has been responsible for the acquisition, scheduling and delivery of programming services on WPT’s six-station network. Check the “be More Tuned In” blog at the start of each month for Garry’s candid look at a few programs that are too good to miss.      – dg

Every month I have a sit down with the programming staff and we sift through literally hundreds of programs to put together a future schedule. Typically a big conference table becomes littered with inventory lists, notebooks, computers and all manner of office supplies. Our most recent foray into the schedule trenches was for December 2011. Uggh!

I say “uggh” because more often than not December is a really tough month to schedule, what with all the new and old holiday shows, show repeats and most importantly fewer people actually watching TV. The holidays put a huge dent in television viewing so we sometimes feel like our efforts are all for naught. But this December we found some true gems that not only excite us, but we’re certain will pique your interest.

Downton Abbey – Season One
Downton AbbeyThat’s right – one of the repeats that I was talking about. But, wait! This is a repeat we can all welcome with open arms. The Emmy-winning classic from Masterpiece Theater is back for one more run ahead of the premiere of season two in January 2012. This is a great opportunity for you to relive the romantic, intrigue-filled drama of the Downton Abbey estate and its eccentric cast of characters. If you missed any of this wildly popular series here’s your chance to catch up and be ready for the new episodes premiering 8 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 8.

Eames: The Architect and the PainterEames: The Architect and the Painter on American Masters
My guess is that if you’ve ever been to a museum, art gallery or plain old furniture store you have seen the brilliant work of either Ray or Charles Eames. This married couple are giants of American design and visual arts, influencing designers and artists for generations. I’ll admit that I only had a pop culture, passing familiarity with the work of either Eames. Enough to say to my architecture-savvy friends “hmm, that looks like it was inspired by Eames.” After watching this entire documentary I can confidently say “wow, that is clearly influenced by the work of Eames.” The American Masters doc on the life and collaborative work of Ray and Charles Eames is utterly fascinating not only because it’s largely a story untold, but also because the presentation of the Eameses’ design processes and resulting works is so visually stunning. Do yourself a favor and check it out 9 p.m. Monday, Dec. 19 or see the encore 10 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 27.

Watch Charles & Ray Eames: The Architect and the Painter on PBS. See more from AMERICAN MASTERS.

Lidia Celebrates America “Holiday Tables and Traditions”

Lidia Bastianich is one of this country’s true culinary pioneers and stars. She’s been around longer than any Top Chef or Iron Chef. Lidia doesn’t cook for competition – she cooks for the love of cooking. In her new holiday special Lidia hits the road in search of the rich and colorful traditions observed during four holiday celebrations: An Italian Christmas Eve, A Mexican American Christmas Day, A Chinese New Year, and a Passover Seder. Along the way there is some truly awesome ethnic cooking, fun (and funny) encounters, and a few celebrities to help keep the traditions alive. If for no other reason tune in to watch Mo Rocca of Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! wrestle with a live eel. Check out Lidia and all the wonderful food 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 20 with an encore 11 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 22.


The National Christmas Tree Lighting 2011
I am admittedly not the kind of programmer that easily falls for the “oohs and aahs” of staged celebratory events on television. So, when we got the announcement that a PBS station in Washington, D.C. would be producing a special on the lighting of the National Christmas Tree my initial reaction was less than enthusiastic. But that’s before I saw the list of talent that will be a part of the special. Up ’til yesterday the producers had begged me not to divulge all that I know, but I can now tell you that the host will be Carson Daly of NBC’s The Voice and Last Call and one of his special guests will be none other than Kermit the Frog, live in the flesh. There will also be a lot of great music by artists including OneRepublic, Ellie Goulding and Big Time Rush. Enjoy this holiday celebration 9 p.m. Tuesday, December 20 or 7 p.m. Thursday, December 22.

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