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In the beginning

Pubcaster's 'Origins' focuses on how it all began

PBS will be reaching back in time this fall and they may have found a future series host in the process.

“Origins,” premiering Sept. 28-29 under the “Nova” banner, journeys the universe seeking the recipes for life — and how it started on Earth. The four-hour tour is led by Neil deGrasse Tyson, an astrophysicist and director of the American Museum of Natural History’s Hayden Planetarium.

“I really think he has the potential to become the next Carl Sagan,” says John Wilson, PBS’ senior VP of programming. “Not to put too much weight on his shoulders but Neil is full of passion and he’s articulate and as smart as a whip.”

Pubcaster then examines an aspect of the more recent past, namely the 20th century, in “Broadway: The American Musical” (Oct. 19-21). Hosted by Julie Andrews, the six-hour docu explores the Great White Way through archival news footage, original cast recordings and first-person accounts with dozens of Broadway legends.

The lives and loves and Jane Austen-era characters come to life in “Regency House Party” (Nov. 3-24), as 10 modern-day men and women — all seeking romance — spend nine weeks living in the English countryside in a grand 200-year-old house. Skein promises to be more hands-on living history than “Big Brother” reality.

“It isn’t ‘The Bachelorette’ meets the 19th century,” Wilson says. “It’s very much about what it was like to be landed gentry in those days when the goal in life was to marry well.”

For the elementary school set, PBS goes toon-to-toon with Nickelodeon and the WB during a new 4-6 p.m. bloc called PBS Kids Go! Starting Oct. 11, “Arthur” and “Cyberchase” will be joined by two newcomers: “Maya & Miguel,” which features a pair of adventuresome Latino twins; and “Postcards From Buster,” an “Arthur” spinoff that follows Buster as he travels North America with his airline pilot dad who is flying a Latin rock group on their concert tour.

Goal is to retain tykes after they’ve graduated from the purple dinosaur and Big Bird.

“By putting it all together like this, what we’re really signaling is just because you’re a sophisticated 6-year-old doesn’t mean you have to leave PBS,” Wilson says. “You can grow from ‘Barney’ and ‘Sesame Street’ and still have a place to call your own on PBS — and still have the respect of your friends on the playground.”

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