Arts, Film & Music

WPT Previews: American Experience’s Mark Samels on Command and Control

When he visited Wisconsin recently, American Experience Executive Producer and UW-Madison alumnus Mark Samels talked with us to give a behind-the-scenes perspective on the making of the PBS series’ new film, Command and Control, which premieres the evening of Tuesday, Jan. 10, immediately following PBS NewsHour coverage of President Obama’s Farewell Address.

Watch his behind-the-scenes perspective on the film’s creation and then watch a trailer for this powerful documentary, below.

Dashing Through the Snow? Five Holiday Favorites to Watch on the Go!

For those of us with loved ones in various area codes, holiday travel is an inevitable part of the holiday experience. If you have some time to relax on your journey – or are simply looking for something to keep the children entertained on the road – WPT’s online video library has you covered!

Here are five online holiday favorites that run the gamut from music to craft to Wisconsin-made programs. All of the shows below are available to stream on video.wpt.org and on the PBS channel of your Roku or other digital device.

Trust us: this list is just the tip of PBS’ holiday programming iceberg! You can explore the full collection online, anytime.

Caregivers, take note: the PBS KIDS app and pbskids.org/video/ let you stream full episodes of PBS KIDS programs, including holiday favorites from Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Peg + Cat and more! 

Read inside for some of our favorites – and let us know what gems you find!

Continue reading Dashing Through the Snow? Five Holiday Favorites to Watch on the Go!

Jazz Fest in Eau Claire Spotlights Young Performers

An Eau Claire jazz tradition that highlights the talents of young Wisconsin performers comes to WPT this Monday, Dec. 19 at 9 p.m. The full Jazz Fest in Eau Claire special, along with bonus musical content from the 50th annual Eau Claire Jazz Festival, is also available online now.

Jazz Fest in Eau Claire takes you inside the festival to see students performing in venues across Eau Claire, as well as learning from experts in hands-on clinics.

Performances from the headlining concert at Eau Claire Memorial High School feature groups who received the festival’s highest honors, including the Whitewater High School Jazz Ensemble from Whitewater, the Waconia High School Jazz Ensemble from Waconia, Minn., the Black Elk Jazz Ensemble from Elk River, Minn., and Valley High School Jazz Ensemble from West Des Moines, Iowa.

World-renowned jazz artists Stefon Harris and Jimmy Heath also perform with the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Jazz Ensemble I.

Enjoy the web exclusive below, featuring the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Jazz I Ensemble performing Duke Ellington’s “Rockin’ in Rhythm,” at the 50th annual Eau Claire Jazz Festival. Then tune in Monday or watch the full program online now!

Jazz Fest in Eau Claire is part of WPT’s multiyear Young Performers Initiative, a statewide effort to raise the visibility of the arts, celebrate the creative achievements of Wisconsin’s young people and support the arts in education.

Funding for Jazz Fest in Eau Claire provided by David and Susan Manor in honor of Blaine and Loretta Manor, Holiday Vacations, and Friends of Wisconsin Public Television.

Remembering John Lennon In His Own Words

As we remember John Lennon, who died on this day in 1980, watch this animated Blank on Blank interview from PBS Digital Studios with Lennon and Yoko Ono talking about the complexity of love.

Then, watch Patina Miller’s stunning version of Lennon’s “Imagine” in this clip from Live at Lincoln Center.


Behind the Scenes: The 2016 Tommy Awards

The 2016 Tommy Awards premieres 8 p.m. tonight, Monday, Oct. 24 on WPT.  Take a look behind the scenes in this blog post by Young Performers Initiative project manager Megan Aley. (Can’t wait for tonight’s broadcast? Watch the full program online now.)


Continue reading Behind the Scenes: The 2016 Tommy Awards

Celebrating Bob Dylan

A young Bob Dylan on the street with a tireTo some, the choice of Bob Dylan as the 2016 Nobel laureate in Literature might be surprising. To others, who have followed the path of his lyrics since before he went electric, it’s an honor many years in the making.

Public broadcasters have often captured Dylan’s long career in film and discussion. Here are some WPT-approved options for reacquainting yourself with the wide scope of Dylan’s life and legacy.

Got any stories about Bob Dylan and how his words have made an impact on your life? We bet you do. Please share them in the comments!

Continue reading Celebrating Bob Dylan

Meet the MacArthur Winners – on WPT and WPR

As we learned the names of the new MacArthur Fellows yesterday – winners of the so-called “genius grants” – we celebrate members of the class of 2016 with Wisconsin roots and those whose work has appeared on WPT.

Some names (like last year’s winner Lin-Manuel Miranda) may seem more familiar than others, but all offer fascinating things to think about – which makes them perfect for WPT and WPR. It’s no surprise, then, that you may have seen or heard them on the air.

Continue reading Meet the MacArthur Winners – on WPT and WPR

Director’s Cut: Roger Rapoport, Richard Riehle and “Pilot Error”

On this week’s Director’s Cut, it is my pleasure to welcome two very esteemed guests to discuss the film Pilot Error. The film’s producer, Roger Rapoport and renowned character actor, Richard Riehle, join me in studio. Rapoport is one of the most innovative producers I’ve met in the indie game when it comes to getting films made, from lining up financing all the way through post production. Riehle has appeared in over three hundred films and made countless television appearances. Two of his most notable credits include Office Space and Casino. Riehle is a native Wisconsinite, born and raised in Menomonee Falls.

Pilot Error is an ambitious project for an indie producer but Rapoport and his team were up for the challenge. When a film involves a plane crash, it’s hard not to think “big studio budget.” The film has a nice narrative about an investigative reporter who loses a friend in a plane crash in the Atlantic Ocean, and loses her job to uncover the truth. The production value is excellent for an indie film. Emmy Award-winning composer Garth Neustadter scored the film.

Pilot Error has not only played in hundreds of theaters thanks to an ambitious self-distribution campaign, it has also helped change regulations in the airline industry and bring awareness to issues such as faulty equipment. Rapoport is as proud of the whistle blowing aspect of his film as he is of the film itself. Continue reading Director’s Cut: Roger Rapoport, Richard Riehle and “Pilot Error”

POV Brings a “Rare Bird” to Television

Think about the most stylish people you know. How many of them have had the contents of their closets on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, or inspired a line of MAC makeup? Have they been a visiting professor at a major university, admired by Alexander Wang and Kanye West or sold a shoe and jewelry collection on the Home Shopping Network – all after age 90?

That’s Iris Apfel, the subject of this week’s POV – simply titled Iris. You may not know the name, but once you see her, she’s hard to forget. Continue reading POV Brings a “Rare Bird” to Television

Director’s Cut: Rob Cohen & “Being Canadian”

This week on Director’s Cut,  it is my pleasure to welcome accomplished writer/director Rob Cohen to discuss his very funny documentary Being Canadian. Rob’s body of work as a comedy writer is impressive. His writing credits include The Simpsons – he wrote the ‘Flaming Moe’ episode –The Ben Stiller Show & The Big Bang Theory. Most recently he was working on podcast phenomenon Marc Maron’s show as both writer and director.

Being Canadian is Rob’s love letter to his homeland but was educational for him as well. It is an extremely well-directed and well-produced film, and as with most of Rob’s creations, it’s very funny and very dry. Rob interviewed tons of celebrities, most from Canada and a few from here in the States. The interviews are interesting, funny and set in some crazy locales. As a comedy writer and self proclaimed student of the craft myself for many years, even I was surprised at how many great comedians and writers are from Canada. Their ratio of great comedy writers to actual residents probably far outweighs what we have here and it hurts at little. Well, okay a lot. But at least it’s a little warmer here? 

As great an interview as Rob is, he was a great sport too, hanging out to riff and do some improv with me as we delved into his mysterious Hollywood legend that he always downplays. We explored the ‘myths’ of his career like – Is the Milhouse character from the Simpsons really based on you? Did Aimee Mann really write a song that was inspired by you? Is there an action figure from Austin Powers 2 based on your character? And of course Did you really have a classmate named, Peter Poontip? Be sure to check out the web extras for the answers. Continue reading Director’s Cut: Rob Cohen & “Being Canadian”