Director’s Cut: Writer-producer Erik Crary and “Uncle John”

Poster for the film Uncle JohnThis week on Director’s Cut, it’s a good old-fashioned eerie small town murder mystery: Uncle John.  I sat down with Erik Crary – half of the creative team – who co-wrote the script and produced the film. I love having writers as guests because they offer unique insight into the storytelling and movie-making process.  Continue reading Director’s Cut: Writer-producer Erik Crary and “Uncle John”

Director’s Cut: Mark Davis, Jan Jensen and “The Bear and the Owl”

Director’s Cut kicks off its 10th— that’s right — 10th season this Friday night on Wisconsin Public Television. We have somehow managed to outlast Cheers and Seinfeld, which were both on-air for only a measly nine seasons! And we have an excellent line-up of films coming your way this season.

Season 10 begins with a film called The Bear and the Owl, a documentary about a young girl with a rare illness and a stranger who becomes her pen pal – so to speak.

Continue reading Director’s Cut: Mark Davis, Jan Jensen and “The Bear and the Owl”

Legacy of the USS Lagarto

The USS Lagarto began its life in a Manitowoc shipyard and went down fighting in a sea battle against a Japanese convoy. But its fascinating story didn’t end in the depths of the Gulf of Thailand.

Decades later, details have emerged about what happened to the 86 men who vanished along with the submarine.

Tonight on WPT at 8 p.m., Lost and Found: The Legacy of the USS Lagarto explores what happened to the submarine, its crew — and the families they left behind. 

Watch a preview provided by the Wisconsin Maritime Museum:


Continue reading Legacy of the USS Lagarto

May the 4th Be With You: Remembering a Very Special Star Wars Visit to Sesame Street

This annual unofficial Star Wars holiday – May the 4th be with you! – gives us a great excuse to go back and look at one of our favorite moments from the legendary intergalactic franchise. That, of course, was the day that R2D2 and C-3PO visited Sesame Street!

Landing just before the release of The Empire Strikes Back, the second film in the still-growing series, the two iconic droids actually appeared on our favorite children’s program for two episodes in January 1980. And the highlights are still amazing.

First, the Sesame Street gang approach the friendly pair to see what brings them to town. Naturally R2D2 claims a secret mission has brought him to deliver a secret message, while C-3PO simply wants an oil change after traveling 50 parsecs.

Then, the two space friends join in the kind of impromptu musical fun – and learning – that can only happen on Sesame Street when they teach Big Bird how to count with their own personalized numbers ditty – “If it says one, I go ‘beep!’ If it says two, I go ‘beep beep!'” – and join in with Bob and friends on an almost avant-garde interpretation of the alphabet song!

And, of course, what would a visit to Sesame Street be without meeting a new friend? Before blasting off back to another galaxy, R2D2 even fell in love with an unexpected feature of almost every street!

Of course, this actual visit from real stars of the Star Wars cast isn’t the only time the films have found their way onto the beloved children’s series. In fact, just a few years ago, Star Wars was the focus of one of our favorite Sesame Street parodies, “Star S’mores.” Watch for Snuffleupagus as a Bantha, and stay for the meta in-joke of Grover as Yoda. And, May the 4th be with you!

Enter the Quilt Expo Modern Mini Quilt Challenge!

Quilt Expo and Nancy Zieman have announced an all-new quilting challenge taking place throughout the month of May on social media: The Quilt Expo Modern Mini Quilt Challenge!

To enter, send a high-resolution image of your quilt to QEChallenge@gmail.com by 5 p.m. CST on Tuesday, May 23, 2017. Include your full name, hometown, and a sentence or two about your quilt. Enter one modern mini quilt for a chance to receive a prize from one of the sponsors (explore the full prize list below)!  Continue reading Enter the Quilt Expo Modern Mini Quilt Challenge!

Madison Teacher Selected For 2017 PBS Digital Innovators Program

David Olson is recognized for his game-changing integration of digital media in the classroom; Olson will partner with Wisconsin Public Television to build learning outcomes in Wisconsin.

Today, Wisconsin Public Television (WPT) announced David Olson, a teacher from James Madison Memorial High School in Madison, as one of 52 educators from across the country selected for the fifth annual PBS Digital Innovators Program. The program recognizes classroom change makers: educators who skillfully approach education with a bold and fresh perspective, and who integrate digital media and resources into their classrooms.

“WPT is excited to collaborate with David Olson, who was chosen from a pool of innovative educators across the country,” said Alyssa Tsagong, WPT Director of Education.  (Explore more about WPT Education online!) “Working directly with Wisconsin’s most passionate educators inspires our entire station, and leads to our best work. We are proud that he will represent WPT and our state as he participates in this unique opportunity to work in-depth with the excellent resources and professional development from PBS LearningMedia.”

As a social studies teacher, Olson said he finds his students are most engaged when they get to learn from history and apply their knowledge to real situations. Simulations, authentic textual analysis and games he brings into in his classroom give students the opportunity to see how the things they learn apply to the real world.

Olson, who has employed WPT resources in his classroom, including those from WPT’s WisconsinVote.org project and the Vel Phillips: Dream Big Dreams documentary, said that digital content helps many of his lessons make the strongest impact. “When I have my students experience life inside a solitary confinement cell using a Virtual Reality headset or [invite them to] create their own political advertisements, it sparks their curiosity and leads them to think of new problems to solve,” he said.

In partnership with WPT, Olson will work to deepen the connection between the educator community and the educational resources offered through public television. PBS Digital Innovators also participate in ongoing professional development, share their ideas on PBS platforms, have access to exclusive resources from PBS LearningMedia, receive a free PBS Teacherline professional development course, and are invited to special events, including the 2017 PBS Digital Summit in San Antonio, Texas.

For all educators, PBS LearningMedia offers more than 100,000 digital resources – including lesson plans, worksheets, video content and more, are available through PBS LearningMedia – for pre-K-12 classrooms and other learning environments. Teachers can access this content at pbslearningmedia.org.

Gaylord Catering Fuels Auction 2017

This year, Wisconsin Public Television celebrates our 42nd year of fantastic fun at Auction – May 31 through June 4, 2017! Help support WPT as you bid on an array of goods and services donated by businesses and individuals from around Wisconsin and beyond. Preview and pre-bid on items and watch our live stream from anywhere at auction.wpt.org. To bid by phone, dial 800-236-3636.

WPT Auction catering partners fuel hardworking volunteers and WPT employees throughout Auction with delicious, local meals. This year, longtime Auction catering partner Gaylord Catering Service, of Madison, has once again signed up to volunteer time — and, of course, food. We sat down with Dave Chamberlain, Gaylord Catering Service’s owner, president, and general manager (and even one of the chefs!) to learn more about the business and its commitment to Auction.

How has your role with Gaylord Catering Service evolved over the years?
I started in 1968 as a high school student washing dishes. I kept that job part-time, washing dishes throughout college until I graduated from Madison Business College in 1974 with an accounting degree. After graduation, Gaylord Catering offered a full-time job, which I accepted. Shortly thereafter, I was offered a position of ownership in the company — you know, one of those enticements to make sure that you stay and don’t run away [laughs]! In 1983, I purchased the company from Gaylord Matti, the original owner. I purchased with a partner; in 1997 my partner left to pursue other interests. Since then, it’s just been my wife [Pat] and I.

What about Auction motivated Gaylord Catering to donate meals and valuable time?
My kids and my wife and I — and now my grandkids —watch public television a lot. In the early years, WPT carried Badger hockey and basketball, which we loved to watch. [Donating to Auction] just seemed like a way for me to give back. You can always donate money, but this was an opportunity for me and my business to give something back.

What’s your favorite part about being an Auction catering partner?From a business standpoint, you get exposure to a lot of people. If I provide them with good food that they like, maybe they’ll remember that I donated. They’ll take the time to call me and give me an opportunity to provide that food for them. It doesn’t “seal the deal,” but they’re more likely to give me a chance. It’s a way for the community to realize that we’re giving back. And I’m sure the volunteers enjoy it!

Since you’re one of the chefs, we have to ask: What’s the most popular dish?
We do a number of weddings every year, and in the wedding business, chicken is a popular item. We do a Wisconsin Cranberry Chicken, which is chicken breast filled with a dried cranberry, walnut and herb dressing and garnished with a white wine cream sauce. That’s probably one of the most popular items we serve.

Experience the Sounds of Solitary

What does solitary confinement sound like? In the short film below from our colleagues at FRONTLINE, experience a solitary existence that is anything but silent. Then, join us Tuesday night at 8 on Wisconsin Public Television for the powerful new FRONTLINE documentary, “Last Days of Solitary.” In the film, producers take us inside a Maine prison to learn what happens when prisoners from solitary confinement try to re-enter society, and why leaders in that state are trying to decrease its use of this isolating correction tactic.

Click here to listen to an exclusive Wisconsin Public Radio interview with FRONTLINE Executive Producer and UW-Madison alumna Raney Aronson-Rath from her recent visit to Wisconsin.

Behind the Scenes: Students Attend State Superintendent Debate in WPT Studios

“We’re rolling in 3…2…1…”

Students rarely get to see politics in action. Often, they don’t even get a chance to meet the candidates, let alone watch a debate live and participate. But last month, a group of students from Bay View Middle School in the Howard-Suamico School District located near Green Bay did just that.

My name is Amy Arbogash and I am the Technology Integration Specialist at Bay View. Last month, I had the privilege of attending the first-ever Wisconsin Public Television Education Innovation Summit held in Madison. Over the course of two days, educators from around the state gathered to learn, collaborate and create. While there, I learned from the WPT staff that they were planning to do something a little different for the upcoming Wisconsin State Superintendent Debate: They wanted to put the candidates in front of a live audience of their most important constituents — students!

Through the efforts of our administration and teachers, we were able to bring 10 students from Bay View to the debate on March 31. Because we have more than 900 students in our 7th- and 8th-grade middle school, we asked students to apply for the privilege to attend and submit questions to WPT for inclusion in the debate. The students were so excited, many spent hours researching ideas for questions. One of our assistant superintendents even worked directly with students to talk about state and district funding.

Amy Arbogash takes some behind-the-scenes photos of students on set.

On the day of the debate, the 10 students, two social studies teachers and I headed down to Madison. As we entered the studio at WPT, the awe on our students’ faces took my breath away. Seeing the stage, lights, candidates, cameras and WPT production staff amazed them. Getting a tour of the studio and seeing all of the behind-the-scenes action was an unbelievable opportunity. The students got to watch the entire debate unfold in front of them, and several had their questions answered live on television. We ended our night with lots of pictures, discussions with the candidates, and memories to last a lifetime!

Students seated and ready for the live debate.

Wisconsin Public Television has always been a supportive resource for Wisconsin teachers and students, but in the last month, I’ve discovered that their support goes deeper than educational television. WPT Education provides invaluable opportunities in and beyond the classroom for those who seek reliable, accurate, easily accessible and free tools for learning.

For resources on Wisconsin elections and debates, visit  wimedialab.pbslearningmedia.org and www.wisconsinvote.org.

For more of Amy’s thoughts on education, follow her on twitter @amyarbogash or check out her blog at amyarbogash.weebly.com

Happy Birthday, Daniel Tiger! Watch his 1954 TV debut

Happy birthday, Daniel Tiger! Watch our favorite little tiger puppet make his April 5, 1954 TV debut on WQED’s  “The Children’s Corner” in the video below.

According to The Fred Rogers’ Company, “Originally, a bird was supposed to come out of the clock that was drawn on the set wall. The night before, WQED Pittsburgh Station Manager Dorothy Daniel presented Fred Rogers with a tiger puppet as a gift at the program’s launch party. He decided to use the tiger puppet instead of the bird and named the puppet Daniel, after the person who gave him the gift.”

Since then, Daniel’s been helping educate, entertain and comfort generations of children on Wisconsin Public Television and PBS through Mister Rogers Neighborhood and now Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. Ugga Mugga, Daniel. We love you!

Of course, Daniel Tiger and Mister Rogers are just part of the strong educational legacy of Wisconsin Public Television and Wisconsin Public Radio. Join us all this year as we celebrate landmarks like this from our first 100 years. Explore our history and share your story of how public broadcasting has impacted your life online now at wpt.org/100.

Happy Birthday, Daniel Tiger!

Happy Birthday, Daniel Tiger!
On April 5th, 1954, Daniel Tiger appeared for the first time on the first episode of “The Children’s Corner.” Originally, a bird was supposed to come out of the clock that was drawn on the set wall. The night before, WQED Pittsburgh Station Manager Dorothy Daniel presented Fred Rogers with a tiger puppet as a gift at the program’s launch party. He decided to use the tiger puppet instead of the bird and named the puppet Daniel, after the person who gave him the gift.

Posted by The Fred Rogers Company on Wednesday, April 5, 2017