State of the Union online and on-air

Watch President Obama’s State of the Union Address at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 25 on Wisconsin Public Television.

In an annual rite of government, President Barack Obama will present his State of the Union Address to Congress and the nation. This year, the address is more accessible than ever. WPT will offer live PBS NewsHour coverage of the address and the Republican Response from Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan on-air. But, if you are away from your television, the folks at NewsHour are preparing other coverage options, too. Visit this link to find online streaming and mobile options, including Twitter updates and iPhone streaming video.

True Art Collectors

Watch Independent Lens “Herb and Dorothy” at 9:00 p.m. Friday, Jan. 28 on Wisconsin Public Television.

For more than 50 years they’ve been married, and for over 50 years, they have collected art.  Meet Herb and Dorothy Vogel, avid art collectors with quite an impressive collection.  From paintings the size of a wall to twisted wire a bits of string, the Vogels appreciate all art and buy the pieces they can not live without.  This is particularly interesting to me because I really don’t understand people with an eye for art.  I’ve spent many hours at some of the museums throughout Wisconsin, some things are beautiful, some historic, but there are always a few pieces that look like junk.  It’s amazing to see art through the eyes of Herb and Dorothy because they truly understand and appreciate each piece.  Enjoy the preview below and start to learn a little bit about Herb and Dorthy, the art they collect and the people who know them best.

Roger Ebert's return to television

Watch Ebert Presents At the Movies at 10 p.m. Friday on Wisconsin Public Television.

When I head to the theater to see a new film, there is one person’s opinion that I have turned to for many years when deciding what to see — Roger Ebert’s. I was first exposed to Ebert’s work as part of his television program with Gene Siskel, Siskel and Ebert at the Movies. Later, I became a regular reader of his longtime work with the Chicago Sun-Times. As a writer he is a creative critic who loves the medium of film. He is also a well-thought columnist on a number of issues. Ebert left television after his battle with thyroid and salivary cancer left him without the ability to speak. Despite this setback, he continued to write some of his finest work and started Roger Ebert’s Journal — one of the most interactive and thoughtful forums on the web.

Now, Ebert — and the famous thumbs — returns to the public television home that first put him and Siskel on the air. The new program will feature reviews from Christy Lemire of The Associated Press and Ignatiy Vishnevetsky of Mubi.com. It will also feature a regular segment from Ebert, who will use a computer voice to share his opinions and outlook on films new and old.

Watch a recent piece on Roger Ebert’s new voice from CBS Sunday Morning below and click here to read Ebert’s column about his experience with the development of a prosthetic chin for his altered appearance after surgery.

A new look at the history of Wausau

Watch Wisconsin Hometown Stories: Wausau at 8 p.m. Monday, Jan. 18 on Wisconsin Public Television. Attend one of two free special preview screening of the documentary at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 19 at the Grand Theater in Wausau.

I am excited by the premiere of the newest installment of the Wisconsin Hometown Stories series. This time, the camera shines on the history of Wausau. In the program, you’ll learn about the unending innovation inspired by some of the city’s earliest industrialists. Archival photos and video along with interviews of local residents and historians tell the stories of the recent immigration experiences of the Hmong community and a number of events that put Wausau on the national map.

Enjoy a preview of the program below.

Birds of Paradise

Watch Nature: Birds of the Gods at 7:00 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 23 on Wisconsin Public Television.

Journey into the depths of the New Guinean rainforest and find the same birds European explorers first discovered in the 16th century.  Birds so colorful and beautiful they were believed to be from the heavens and were named birds of paradise.  You can watch a brief preview here to see more of the amazing birds like the one to the right.  Without a doubt, these are the most interesting and peculiar birds I have ever seen.  Some of them don’t even really look like birds, not in the conventional way we think of birds here in Wisconsin anyways.  They come in all sorts of bright colors and have feathers that can completely change their shape.  Not sure if they can fly, but they could certainly scare away a predator or two.

The Strongest Stuff on Earth

Watch NOVA: Making Stuff Stronger at 8:00 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 19 on Wisconsin Public Television.

Have you ever wondered where the materials of the future will come from?  This might just be the show for you.  In a new four-part series, NOVA explores some of the technology of the future.  Some of the newest and most amazing creations are made completely in a lab, while others are discovered out in nature and then replicated.  Whether it’s based on shark scales or a spider’s web, the possibilities for new technologies are endless.

Below is a preview of the NOVA’s “Making Stuff” series.  Wednesday’s episode focuses on making stuff stronger – like fibers smaller than human hair but stronger than steel.

MLK Jr. Ceremony

Watch The Annual State of Wisconsin Tribute & Ceremony to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at 12:00 p.m. Monday, Jan. 17 on The Wisconsin Channel.

This Monday, we bring you the 31st Annual State of Wisconsin Tribute & Ceremony Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. hosted by Wisconsin Public Radio’s Jonathan Overby.  I have only had the pleasure of seeing two of the past ceremonies, but they were both amazing and powerful.  Each year they have a variety of musical performances from solo artists to entire choruses.  As a true tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., don’t miss this wonderful event full of powerful speeches and stories from the people of Wisconsin.

Oh, the places you'll go

Watch Nature “White Falcon, White Wolf” at 7 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 16 on Wisconsin Public Television.

I am constantly amazed by the far-flung locales that I am able to visit just by flipping the television channel to Wisconsin Public Television. Who knows if that click of the remote will take me to the floor of the Capitol,  the forests of northern Wisconsin or beyond.

This Sunday, Nature takes viewers to a remote Canadian island to introduce us to two fascinating creatures that strive against common sense to thrive in an environment that only affords them less than three months of non-freezing temperatures. The arctic wolf and white gyrfalcon are beautiful creatures that fight the elements each year to make sure their species survives.

Watch a preview segment from the program below:

Meet the Children of Haiti

Watch Independent Lens “Children of Haiti” at 9:00 p.m. Friday, Jan. 14 on Wisconsin Public Television.

This touching film shows you what it’s like to be one of the many children living on the streets of Haiti.  What most people don’t realize is that even before the earthquake in January of 2010, more than 500,000 children were wandering the streets of Haiti.  Conditions only got worse after the quake, more children and families are without shelter and sanitary food and water. Producer/Director Alexandria Hammond brings us this amazing and eye-opening film that follows three teenage boys as they reflect on life in Haiti and their common dreams of education and government assistance.

The Dude Abides on WPT

Watch American Masters – Jeff Bridges: The Dude Abides at 9 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 12 on Wisconsin Public Television.

Jeff Bridges is one of our country’s finest actors. Outside of his effortless silver screen roles, it is his easy-going, genuine everyman persona that has endeared him to fans like me. Sure, we know and love him as The Dude in The Big Lebowski, Rooster Cogburn in True Grit, Bad Blake in Crazy Heart (it finally won him that well-deserved Oscar) and even Kevin Flynn from Tron (both of them!), but this program presents the lesser-known aspects of his life. Bridges is a devoted family man, humanitarian, musician and artist.

Before the show’s premiere, Bridges sat down and answered a few questions from PBS about the development of the documentary and whether there is still a bit of The Dude left inside him.