New ‘Freedom’ series enlists stars, Bush

Prez, thesps get 'History' lesson

NEW YORK — Thirteen/WNET and Kunhardt Prods. have enlisted “The Today Show” co-anchor Katie Couric, General Electric, a bevy of Hollywood stars and President George W. Bush to participate in upcoming series “Freedom: A History of Us.”

The 16-part skein, which will air in January, is based on the controversial textbooks written by amateur historian Joy Hakim. Published by Oxford U. Press in the mid-’90s, the 10-book series reportedly sold more than 800,000 copies, but drew the ire of conservatives for the author’s polemical take on Ronald Reagan.

Using archival film, artwork and rare photographs, “Freedom” will feature actors such as Julia Roberts, Anthony Hopkins, Angela Bassett, Reese Witherspoon, Billy Crystal and Robin Williams reading from personal historical accounts.

GE is sole corporate sponsor of “Freedom.” Its CEO, Jeffrey R. Immelt, said the series “tells the stories of the ordinary and famous citizens who sacrificed and struggled to ensure that the powerful promise of American freedom was fulfilled.”

President Bush and first lady Laura Bush will give “Freedom” a hand with an on-air introduction when it bows.