TED Talks Try for Broadway Crowds with Live New York Programming

Rufus Wainwright
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TED, the brainy nonprofit that showcases notable ideas, has teamed with PBS for “TED Talks Live,” a six-night series of programming this fall at the Town Hall, the New York venue in the midst of the Manhattan theater district.

The programming will include a selection of the TED organization’s signature TED Talks as well as short films and performances, with talent involved including entertainment-world names such as Adam Driver, Rufus Wainwright, Sebastian Junger and Sara Ramirez, as well as former White House chef Sam Kass, film composer Paul Cantelon and singer-songwriter Angela McCluskey. PBS will record the event for broadcast in the spring.

The theater district seems a good fit for TED, which for its live programming can draw from the pool of city tourists who recognize the TED brand from its high digital profile, as well as from the well-off, intellectually-inclined city residents who fit the demographic of regular Broadway playgoers. Tickets to “TED Talks Live” will go for $100 a pop, although students and educators can apply for free tickets online.

“TED Talks Live” will be hosted by comedian Baratunde Thurston, with Ramirez, the “Grey’s Anatomy” alum who won a Tony for “Spamalot,” co-hosting the first two nights of programming dedicated to the “The Education Revolution.” Kass is on the bill for those two nights (Nov. 1-2), along with names including educators Sal Khan and Dena Simmons as well as Future Project co-founder Andrew Mangino, among others.

Driver (“Girls,” “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”), the Marine Corps vet who got his start acting on the New York stage, will be part of the two nights of programming (Nov. 3-4) focusing on “War & Peace.” Journalist-author Sebastian Junger and psychologist Hector Garcia also are among the names on that roster.

The final two evenings (Nov. 5-6) will center on “Science & Wonder,” with Radiolab research director Latif Nasser and genomic code expert Juan Enriquez on the bill.

After “TED Talks Live” runs Nov. 1-6 in Manhattan, PBS will air three one-hour specials in the spring featuring content from the events.

TED already has a theater-community presence thanks to the licensed offshoot TEDxBroadway, a future-focused annual conference run by theater-world regulars.

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