Tag Archives: History

WPT Previews: American Experience’s Mark Samels on The Great War

When he visited Wisconsin this past October, 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, The Great War – a three-night event that begins 8 p.m. Monday, April 10 on Wisconsin Public Television.

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

Quiz: Polka in Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, polka is tied to our identity like beer, brats and cheese! But, how much do you actually know about the music and dance?

Test your knowledge with this 10-question quiz!

And tune in Monday at 7 p.m. for Polka! with musician and host Mollie Busta — better known as Mollie B. — as she explores the history and culture surrounding the often misunderstood dance, the memories it conjures, the people who enjoy it … and the fun it invokes across Wisconsin. Watch the preview and read our interview with Mollie B.

Ready to get out your dancing shoes? Find polka across Wisconsin by exploring this map that lists venues with weekly music and annual festivals.

Funding for Polka! is provided in part by the Stanley J. Cottrill Fund, International Polka Association, Wisconsin Dells Polka Fest, and Friends of Wisconsin Public Television.

Discover Polka! in Wisconsin

Did you know that polka is the official state dance of Wisconsin? (It’s the law – since 1993!)

In Wisconsin Public Television’s new hour-long documentary airing 7 p.m. on Monday, March 6, musician and host Mollie Busta — better known as Mollie B. — explores how European immigrants brought polka music and dance to the hills and shores of Wisconsin in the 19th century — and how the folk tradition is being kept alive in communities across the state.

Watch the film preview below and read our interview with Mollie B.

Polka is music made for getting together, being happy, and dancing! It’s time to get up, get out, and enjoy polka at venues and festivals across Wisconsin. Find a location near you and join in the fun all year long!

And if you live near Monroe, please join WPT and Mollie B. on Thursday, March 2 for a Polka! advance screening.

We are still adding events and locations to the map, so check back soon! Know of another place or event where people enjoy polka concerts and dancing not shown here? Let us know! Leave a comment or email jessica.lee@wpt.org — and we’ll add it to the map.

Funding for Polka! is provided in part by the Stanley J. Cottrill Fund, International Polka Association, Wisconsin Dells Polka Fest, and Friends of Wisconsin Public Television.

Behind the Scenes – “Jerry Apps: Never Curse the Rain”

WPT producer Mik Derks has worked with Jerry Apps since 2012. Photo credit: James Gill.

“[Jerry Apps] gave permission to his audiences to remember their childhoods fondly.” -Mik Derks

Jerry Apps: Never Curse the Rain premieres 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 8 on WPT

Over the past five years, WPT producer Mik Derks has been sharing the stories of beloved Wisconsin author, historian and storyteller Jerry Apps with television audiences. This month, the tradition continues with a new documentary: Jerry Apps: Never Curse the Rain. Reflecting on water’s importance throughout his life, Apps shares why his father told him, “Jerry, never curse the rain.” Continue reading Behind the Scenes – “Jerry Apps: Never Curse the Rain”

Victorious Blog, Episode 2: “Brocket Hall”

“I speak to you not as a queen but as a woman …”

This is the second post of the Victorious Blog series. Click here to read the series.

This week, we saw “Brocket Hall” – or, as I’d like to call it, “The Romance Episode.” (Missed it? Watch here.)  Despite the Chartists’ political uprisings that negatively affected both Victoria and Mrs. Jenkins, as well as Francatelli’s constant harassment of Miss Skerrett, the heart of this episode centered on Victoria’s love life.

Much of “Brocket Hall” revolved around Victoria and Lord Melbourne… with hints sprinkled throughout the narrative about the impending arrival of Prince Albert (Tom Hughes). Other suitors abound: Prince George is awfully boring; the Russian Grand Duke is much less boring, but not quite up to par. Victoria claims that Prince Albert used to be a bother, but we know – thanks, history! – that she’ll change her tune. 

More about Prince Albert soon. For now, though, let’s take a look at Victoria and Lord Melbourne. In a world where suitors abound, Victoria has trouble thinking about anyone other than Lord M. Continue reading Victorious Blog, Episode 2: “Brocket Hall”

A Conversation With Mercy Street Star Gary Cole

In his acting career, Gary Cole has inhabited roles ranging from an aloof manager in Office Space to Vice President in The West Wing and an advisor to the President in Veep. And, in the PBS Civil War drama Mercy Street, Cole finds himself as the wealthy patriarch of a Confederate family living in Union-occupied territory. As the series enters its second season this month – premiering Jan. 22 on Wisconsin Public Television, we checked in with Cole to ask him about his role as James Green Sr., how his new work on public television has brought his career full circle and even a few insights into how Office Space became a cult classic.

Continue reading A Conversation With Mercy Street Star Gary Cole

Enjoy Three New Tribal Histories Programs This Month

Storytellers from each of 11 sovereign nations located in Wisconsin — and one nation whose sovereign status is no longer recognized by the federal government — share the unique histories of their people and communities in WPT’s original Tribal Histories documentaries.

The three newest programs from the series — featuring the Red Cliff Ojibwe, Lac Du Flambeau Ojibwe and Brothertown tribes — air on WPT this month, with the first episode premiering this Thursday. All episodes are also streaming online now. Continue reading Enjoy Three New Tribal Histories Programs This Month

“Treasured Quilts of Wisconsin” Showcases Tradition, Innovation and Inspiration

Update! Watch Treasured Quilts of Wisconsin online here.

Quilting is more than just fabric and thread. It is a journey filled with thoughtfulness and emotion. Join host Nancy Zieman to meet the artists behind the quilts in the brand-new television special Treasured Quilts of Wisconsin, premiering 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 29 on Wisconsin Public Television.

Preview the special in this exclusive sneak peek:

Meet contemporary quilters who take traditional quilting to new levels, innovative quilters who use unconventional techniques, and inspirational quilters who explore the richness of life and its many lessons through fabric.

Treasured Quilts of Wisconsin introduces viewers to quilters and quilts from around Wisconsin, including work by Diane Gaudynski, Betty Ekern Suiter, Bruce Seeds, Natalie Sewell and more. Learn the source of their inspiration, tour their workspaces and marvel at the intricacies of their masterpieces. Plus, view dozens of quilts crafted by quilters from across the state.

Each quilter has unique reasons for quilting. Learn how all quilters are united by a passion for tradition, innovation and inspiration when Treasured Quilts of Wisconsin premieres on WPT.

WPT Previews: American Experience’s Mark Samels Takes Us Inside “The Battle of Chosin”

When he visited Wisconsin recently, American Experience Executive Producer, Wisconsin native and University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate Mark Samels talked with Wisconsin Public Television to give a behind-the-scenes perspective on the making of the PBS series’ new film, The Battle of Chosin, which premieres 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 1.

Watch an exclusive first look at the first chapter of the powerful film online now.

Door County Cana Island Lighthouse Moonrise

Here’s a moment of beautiful serenity.

Wisconsin Public Television producers captured this gorgeous full moonrise behind the Cana Island Lighthouse in Door County during filming last year.

Enjoy this rare moment of natural wonder and then watch our all-new history documentary, Wisconsin Hometown Stories: Door County Monday night, June 27 at 8 on WPT.