History to air Brokaw’s ‘1968’ special

Program tied to release of anchor's book

Tom Brokaw is returning to the airwaves with a look back at a seminal period in U.S. history.

The news personality, who garnered strong ratings with his NBC special “The Greatest Generation,” is collaborating with the History Channel on a spec about the year 1968.

The tentatively titled “1968 With Tom Brokaw” will have Brokaw acting less as a traditional anchor and more as a first-person lens into that turbulent time. He will interview a slew of personalities from the era and also offer his own reflections on the year.

Among other events, 1968 saw the riots at the Democratic Convention in Chicago, the launch of the lunar spacecraft Apollo 8 and the assassinations of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy.

Brokaw worked at KNBC in L.A. in 1968, where he had a firsthand view of many of those events, including the RFK assassination.

History will air the special in the fall.

Like “The Greatest Generation,” “1968” will be timed to the release of a Brokaw book. Random House will bow in November his tome “Boom! Personal Reflections on the Sixties and Today,” which examines the entire decade.

NBC’s Peacock Prods. will produce the special, with David McKillop and Carl H. Lindahl exec producing.

When “Generation” aired in 1998, it helped usher in a wave of nostalgia about WWII, with a slew of movies and books on the subject released in subsequent years.

Since retiring from “Nightly News” in 2004, Brokaw has been active at NBC, hosting “Tom Brokaw Reports” and reporting on such subjects as immigration and the war on terror as a special correspondent for the net.

For History, project reflects a newfound desire to attract an audience in its 30s and 40s.

“There’s a younger generation that knows the year was important, but they want to know what was this all about and why did I miss it?” said History exec veep-general manager Nancy Dubuc.

History is airing “Ice-Road Truckers,” a younger-skewing show about death-defying drivers that has drawn solid numbers since it launched last month; it’s also prepping the presumably young-skewing martial-arts show “Human Weapon.”

Depending on the success of the special, History could extend the concept into a franchise by airing specials on 1969 and other years.

“Part of the new programming push is to broaden the genre of history,” Dubuc said of the decision to air a retrospective. “Pop culture is now an important part of the equation for us.”

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