A Conversation with Ken Burns | Thursday, March 21 at 8 p.m.

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March 21, 2019 on WOUB

– A Comprehensive Look at the Acclaimed Filmmaker’s Entire Career –

Award-winning, critically-acclaimed documentary filmmaker Ken Burns sits down to discuss his work as a historian, storyteller and curator of uniquely American subjects in a new special for PBS viewers. Guided by Peabody Award-winning journalist Don Shelby, Burns looks back on his early childhood experiences and influences that led him to pursue a career as a filmmaker. He shares behind-the-scenes anecdotes about the actors and notable personalities he’s worked with, stories gleaned from his research, and some of the heartwarming — and heartbreaking — moments with the scores of experts and everyday people he’s interviewed in his more than 35 years of work. A CONVERSATION WITH KEN BURNS is part of special programming premiering on PBS stations in March 2019.

Ken Burns has been making documentary films for almost 40 years. Since the Academy Award-nominated Brooklyn Bridge in 1981, Ken has gone on to direct and produce some of the most acclaimed historical documentaries ever made, including The Civil War; Baseball; Jazz, The Statue of Liberty; Huey Long; Lewis & Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery; Frank Lloyd Wright; Mark Twain; Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson; The War; The National Parks: America’s Best Idea; The Roosevelts: An Intimate History; Jackie Robinson; Defying the Nazis: The Sharps’ War; The Vietnam War and, most recently, The Mayo Clinic: Faith – Hope – Science.

A December 2002 poll conducted by Real Screen Magazine listed The Civil War as second only to Robert Flaherty’s Nanook of the North as the “most influential documentary of all time,” and named Ken Burns and Robert Flaherty as the “most influential documentary makers” of all time. In March 2009, David Zurawik of The Baltimore Sun said: “Burns is not only the greatest documentarian of the day, but also the most influential filmmaker period. That includes feature filmmakers like George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. I say that because Burns not only turned millions of persons onto history with his films, he showed us a new way of looking at our collective past and ourselves.” The late historian Stephen Ambrose said of his films: “More Americans get their history from Ken Burns than any other source.”

A young Ken Burns with his camera. (

Future projects include Country Music, a new 16-hour documentary premiering Sunday, September 15, 2019. Other upcoming projects include Ernest Hemingway, Muhammad Ali, the Holocaust and the United States, Benjamin Franklin, Lyndon B. Johnson, the American Buffalo, Leonardo da Vinci, the American Revolution, the history of crime and punishment in America, the history of Reconstruction, and Winston Churchill, among others.

Ken’s films have been honored with dozens of major awards, including 15 Emmy Awards, two Grammy Awards and two Oscar nominations; and in September 2008, at the News & Documentary Emmy Awards, Ken was honored by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

PBS special programming invites viewers to experience the worlds of science, history, nature and public affairs; hear diverse viewpoints; and take front-row seats to world-class drama and performances. Viewer contributions are an important source of funding, making PBS programs possible. PBS and public television stations offer all Americans from every walk of life the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television and online content.