WILL Highlights

WILL - WILL Highlights - September 22, 2014 ~ Comment (0)

Penguins, Spy in the Huddle: 7 pm Wed., Sept. 24-Oct. 8

WILL-TV: Spycams capture life of nature’s most devoted parents and their offspring.

Emperor penguin chicks

The life of a penguin is not an easy one, but recording the challenges faced by nature’s most devoted parents and their offspring in remote parts of the world was nearly as hard, and only possible due to the placement of spycams in their midst. For nearly a year, filmmakers deployed 50 animatronic cameras disguised as realistic life-size penguins, eggs and rocks to infiltrate the colonies of three very different species: emperor penguins in Antarctica, rockhopper penguins on the Falkland Islands, and Humboldt penguins in Peru’s Atacama Desert. The resulting footage shows what it is really like to be a penguin from a whole new perspective.

Take a front row seat as they journey to their breeding grounds, raise chicks, dodge predators and return to the sea when Penguins: Spy in the Huddle, A Nature Special Presentation airs on three consecutive Wednesdays, September 24, October 1 and 8, 2014 at 7 pm on WILL-TV. After broadcast, the episodes will be available for online streaming at pbs.org/nature.

Series director John Downer (“Earthflight”) and his team filmed 1000 hours of intimate behavior for this project using both animatronic and conventional cameras, footage which was later condensed to three hours for broadcast. Penguins: Spy in the Huddle, A Nature Special Presentation contains a number of notable firsts due to the sheer length of time the production crews spent observing the colonies as well as to the presence of the spycams.

At the cold Antarctic breeding ground of the emperor penguins, emperorcams and eggcams await the arrival of prospective parents. In a humorous sequence, female emperors engage in flipper fights over the more limited pool of potential mates. Even when it’s clear which emperors are officially couples, some female rivals still try to disrupt a pair, sometimes when mating. Later, egg-laying by a female is filmed for the very first time. The footage shows how the mother uses her tail feathers to catch the couple’s single egg while her feet cushion the fall. A dropped egg on the ice would quickly freeze leaving the parents childless.

On the Falkland Islands, rockhoppercams, eggcams and even rockcams capture other firsts, including the underwater arrival of rockhopper penguins battling the stormy South Atlantic seas as they head for dry land. Some rockhoppers are also filmed using mountaineering techniques, rather than hopping, as they struggle to scale the steep rock walls to reach their clifftop nests. On a darker note, pairs that have lost their chicks to predators turn to kidnapping from others in their desperation to find another chick to care for and heated fights ensue.

The shy and rarely-filmed Humboldt of Peru’s Atacama Desert is the only mainland penguin to live in the tropics. At night, low-light Humboldtcams reveal for the first time how hungry vampire bats feed on both adults and chicks while the Humboldts fight back by kicking dirt in their faces. Other sequences show how the penguins maneuver through dangerous booby bird colonies, gangs of fur seals and potentially deadly sea lions to make their way back and forth to their nests from the sea.

With 50 remotely controlled spycams operating in tough environments, there are always mishaps: losing three eggcams in a blizzard or having a rockhoppercam lose its head in an attack by a jealous mate. But when a predator bird mistakes eggcam for the real thing and flies off with it, viewers are treated to the first aerial of a penguin colony shot by a flying bird. The spycams, which captured many first time events and challenges faced by these dedicated parents and chicks, provide new insights into the study of penguin behavior.

Watch a preview:



WILL - WILL Highlights - September 20, 2014 ~ Comment (0)

Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates Jr.

7 pm Tuesdays, beginning Sept. 23, on WILL-TV: Illuminating the family histories of Tina Fey, Derek Jeter, Ben Affleck, Stephen King, Billie Jean King and more.

Tina Fey and Henry Louis Gates Jr.

From AFRICAN AMERICAN LIVES (2006) through the first season of FINDING YOUR ROOTS (2012), Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr. has been helping people identify relatives hidden for generations. Professor Gates employs a team of genealogists and the world’s leading geneticists to uncover the origins of a diverse group of 30 guests. Each of the 10 episodes will feature three guests bound together by an intimate, sometimes hidden, link, as Gates treks through layers of ancestral history, uncovers secrets and surprises, and shares life-altering discoveries.

The premiere of the second season of Finding Your Roots comes on the heels of Professor Gates’ Peabody Award-winning PBS series The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross, which debuted in the fall of 2013 to critical acclaim.  In each hour-long episode of the second season of Finding Your Roots, Gates continues his quest to, as he says, “get into the DNA of American culture.”  By weaving a group of celebrity stories together, each episode takes viewers on a journey through layers of ancestral history, uncovering familial secrets and sharing life-altering discoveries that ultimately reveal an intimate bond that links each individual’s story together.

The episode construction of Season Two explores a much wider array of themes than Season One.  In each episode, Gates focuses on the specific ethnic roots, cultural traditions and deep interplay of family influence and genetics of three guests, including: celebrity chefs Tom Colicchio, Aaron Sanchez and Ming Tsai, who cook the food of their ancestors and discover family members who have shaped their lives—and America’s cuisine; Derek Jeter, Billie Jean King and Rebecca Lobo, three of America's greatest athletes whose determination and love of sports were deeply shaped by their families, but who were all cut off from their true origins—raising the question of whether champions are made or born; actress  Tina Fey, humorist David Sedaris and journalist George Stephanopolous, all of whom look into their Greek American ancestry; and American playwright Tony Kushner, singer-songwriter Carole King and lawyer Alan Dershowitz, who not only share a Jewish heritage, but a history of perseverance in the face of withering opposition.

In other episodes, actors Ben Affleck and Khandi Alexander come to realize their families have long been engaged in the battle for freedom and civil rights, but they had no idea that those principles were passed down through generations of ancestors.  Gates also explores the history of the Vanderbilt family with Anderson Cooper, discovers a web of intimate relationships between Nas’ slave ancestors and their masters, and traces Sting’s roots back centuries in England where we find that being close to the seat of the Empire doesn't mean that life is any better.

New advancements in DNA testing since the first season allow Gates and his team to use genetic genealogy to make unprecedented discoveries about the past in Season Two, including being able to identify tribal Native American ancestry, solve paternity mysteries, and pinpoint the geographic origins of hidden ancestry.  These new achievements in DNA testing take center stage with an entire episode devoted to exploring the possibilities, all the while featuring the stories of actress Jessica Alba, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and even Gates, himself.

Watch a preview:


WILL - WILL Highlights - September 19, 2014 ~ Comment (0)

Clarinetist Mark Nuccio with New York Philharmonic

7 pm Thursday, Sept. 25, on WILL-FM: He performs Copland's Clarinet Concerto.

Mark Nuccio

The New York Philharmonic This Week

Bramwell Tovey, conductor; *Mark Nuccio, clarinet

In Residence:    BRAVO! VAIL VALLEY MUSIC FESTIVAL: PROGRAM III

Copland : Fanfare for the Common Man           

Gershwin/Arr. Rose:  Strike Up the Band from Strike Up the Band        

*Copland:  Clarinet Concerto               

Grofé:  Grand Canyon Suite





WILL - WILL Highlights - September 17, 2014 ~ Comment (0)

Program addition: Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work

9:30 pm Tuesday, Sept. 23, on WILL-TV: Critically acclaimed film is an emotionally surprising and revealing portrait.

Joan Rivers next to mirror

American Masters will present Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, a critically acclaimed independent documentary that debuted at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. The film is a year-long ride with legendary comedian Joan Rivers in her 76th year of life. Peeling away the mask of an iconic comedian and exposing the struggles, sacrifices and joy of living life as a ground breaking female performer. The film is an emotionally surprising and revealing portrait of one the most hilarious and long-standing career women ever in the comedy business.

Watch the official film trailer:




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