PBS

Geffen: This Brooklyn kid has a boat, a billion and a bundle of memories


So David Geffen flew in one day from Sardinia, talked to reporters for an hour, then flew back. Subsequently I learned: a) Where Sardinia is. (It's a long ways away and he has a boat there); b) Geffen has had key roles in the history of music, movies and more; and c) It's sometimes nice to be a self-made billionaire.

"The Dust Bowl": A potent look at a dark decade


"The Dust Bowl" is everything you expect from a Ken Burns documentary -- intelligent, passionate, beautifully crafted. Here's one of the stories I sent to papers; right after this, there's a box and then a second story, viewing that dark decade through the eyes of one former cowboy kid:

 

By MIKE HUGHES

For a decade, dust storms in the
American mid-section blackened farms, destroyed crops, ruined lives.

Growing up amid dust and dismay


What was it like to grow up amid the dark dismay of the Dust Bowl? This story tells it from the viewpoint of a former Colorado kid, now a retired teacher at 88. It's one of two stories I sent to papers about Ken Burns' "The Dust Bowl," Sunday and Monday (Nov. 18-19) on PBS. The other story and the box should be right above this one:

 

By MIKE HUGHES

He was a cowboy kid on the Colorado
prairie, living the only life he knew.

Growing up amid dust and dismay


What was it like to grow up amid the dark dismay of the Dust Bowl? This story tells it from the viewpoint of a former Colorado kid, now a retired teacher at 88. It's one of two stories I sent to papers about Ken Burns' "The Dust Bowl," Sunday and Monday (Nov. 18-19) on PBS. The other story and the box should be right above this one:

 

By MIKE HUGHES

He was a cowboy kid on the Colorado
prairie, living the only life he knew.

Pia and the Anthem: A decade-long skill returns on Veterans Day


Some of TV's strongest moments have come from PBS' 4th-of-July and Memorial Day concerts. Now comes a third special, Sunday on Veterans Day. Here's the story I sent to papers about the concert and Pia Toscano, who will have two powerful songs repeated Sunday: 

By MIKE HUGHES

For half her life, Pia Toscano has sung
the National Anthem or “Go Bless America” to mega-crowds.

Yes, there is joy in "Half the Sky"


Waves of despair seem to fill "Half the Sky." This is a jolting documentary (Monday and Tuesday on PBS) about the mistreatent of women and girl.

The surprise, however, is how much hope and joy the film also delivers. It profiles heroes who beat the odds; here's the story I sent to papers:

By MIKE HUGHES

Churning through “Half the Sky” are
deep stories of human tragedy.

It's time to call these midwives


The new "Call the Midwife" series will grow on you, in the same way the midwife job grows on the central character.

At first, "Midwife" seems too harsh, too dark, too depressing. As the seven-week series continues, however, it gives us wide-eyed characters worth knowing.

"Midwife" starts at 8 p.m. Sunday (Sept. 30) on most PBS stations. Here's the story I sent to papers:

By MIKE HUGHES

There are people who spend their lives
in cozy comfort zones.

Cheyenne sings his way from small-town musical to big-city glitz


Trust me on this: Cheyenne Jackson is a terrific singer and a fun story-teller.

Viewers will get a tiny sampling of him Friday. He was the first voice in the opening-night concert at the lush Smith Center in Las Vegas; that night is now a two-hour PBS special (9 p.m. Sept. 21).

Broadway passion burns bright


Imagine "American Idol" on steroids -- more finalists (60), more talent, more pure passion.

That's "Broadway or Bust," a fascinating, three-week documentary series, Sundays on PBS. The first hour has already aired, but you can watch it on the PBS Web site; here's the story I sent to papers:

By MIKE HUGHES

For a while there, a classic American
art form seemed to be fading.

Sir Ken and I have a lot in common


So it turns out that Ken Branagh -- or Sir Kenneth, as he's now known -- has something in common with me.

In most areas, we're far apart. He's mastered Shakespeare plays; I don't understand them. He's been knighted; I've seen "Camelot."

What we have in common, however, is illustrated by an exceptionally inept serving tray that it took me months to make in shop class. This remains on exhibit at the family cottage -- which my grandfather built, shortly after building his family home. The building-stuff trait bypassed me entirely.