History spec goes past usual suspects
NEW YORK — The History Channel has begun post-production on “10 Days That Unexpectedly Changed America,” an elaborate special for which it has enlisted filmmakers outside the usual History circle.
Slated to begin airing in April, “10 Days” will feature documentaries by “creative filmmakers who haven’t worked for History Channel before,” said Susan Werbe, VP of programming for the cable network.
“We deliberately avoided the dates that we’d done a million documentaries on, such as the signing of the Declaration of Independence or the attack on Pearl Harbor,” Werbe said.
Instead, R.J. Cutler (“The War Room”) directed “Shays’Rebellion: The First American Civil War,” about the Jan. 25, 1787, event that led to the drafting of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Bill Plymptonis animating some elements and Hector Elizondo will narrate.
Joe Berlinger (“Brother’s Keeper”) directed “Murder at the Fair: The Assassination of President McKinley.” His death put his larger-than-life VP, Theodore Roosevelt, in the White House.
Cultural issues will also be covered. Bruce Sinofsky (“Metallica: Some Kind of Monster”) directs “When America Was Rocked,” which deals with the reverberations of the night Elvis Presley appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show.”
Other directors are James Moll (“The Last Days”) on the May 26, 1637, “Massacre at Mystic”; Jeffrey Friedman & Rob Epstein (“The Celluloid Closet”) on “Gold Rush” (Jan. 24, 1848); Michael Epstein (“The Battle Over Citizen Kane”) on the Sept. 17, 1862, clash at “Antietam”; Rory Kennedy (“American Hollow”) on the July 6, 1892, “Homestead Strike”; Kate Davis (“Jockey”) on the July 21, 1925, “Scopes: The Battle Over America’s Soul”; Barak Goodman on “Einstein’s Letter” of July 16, 1939, urging President Roosevelt to develop the atomic bomb; and Marco Williams (“Two Towns in Jasper”) on the civil-rights movement’s “Freedom Summer” (June 21, 1964).
Docs will use interviews, archival footage and historical artifacts, along with re-creations of events.