With his new documentary “The Vietnam War” scheduled to premiere on PBS in September and multiple other films in the works, Ken Burns has a full plate. But he’s looking to add another project: an addendum to his 1994 series “Baseball,” pegged to the Chicago Cubs’ 2016 World Series victory.
“I’m sort of obligated,” to add another hour to the series, Burns — who last year said that he would direct a new “Baseball” episode if the Cubs won a World Series — told Variety Sunday at the Television Critics Association winter press tour. “I don’t know where it fits in.” Burns said that columnist George Will, who appeared in the original “Baseball,” emailed him the night that the Cubs won Game 7 against the Cleveland Indians in November to take their first World Series Championship since 1908. “He says, ‘Now you have to and do ‘The Eleventh Inning.'”
Burns added that he and collaborator Lynn Novick “have to go and talk and figure out how to go back to it.”
The original “Baseball” consisted of nine hour-long episodes and ended just before the strike-shortened 1994 season. In 2010, PBS premiered “The Tenth Inning,” an additional episode from Burns that covered the period of the strike through 2009, including the steroid scandal that rocked Major League Baseball. But Burns joked when speaking at summer TCA in April that he “really just wanted to tell the story of the 2004 ALCS when the Red Sox came from behind, three games to none,” with the team going on to end its own 86-year World Series drought.
Burns appeared at winter TCA Sunday in Pasadena, Calif., to promote “The Vietnam War,” a collaboration with co-director Novick and composers Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.
“We have been surprised throughout our professional lives and reminded constantly by the subjects that we take on that the past is like the present,” Burns said during a panel for the series earlier in the day. “We think that the unique role that public television has in trying to speak to everyone will in fact help this project.”
The current political and social divisions in the country, Burns added, “metastasized back in Vietnam and are still with us. It was our intention to unpack what happened in Vietnam.”