WILL Highlights

WILL - WILL Highlights - September 02, 2014 ~ Comment (0)

Program change: Robin Williams Remembered

8 pm Tuesday, Sept. 9, on WILL-TV: This Pioneers of Television tribute includes one of Williams' last full-length interviews for the series.

Robin Williams

In celebration of award-winning comedian, TV star, and film and stage actor Robin Williams, who lives on in fond memories of audiences worldwide, PBS will premiere ROBIN WILLIAMS REMEMBERED – A PIONEERS OF TELEVISION SPECIAL on Sept. 9, 2014, at 8 pm on WILL-TV.

The one-hour special will feature Williams’ last full-length television interview, including never-before-seen footage of his comments on life and work, tributes by those who knew and worked with him closely in all phases of his career, and clips from iconic moments throughout his career. Williams shares stories about his first stand-up act, his desire to be a serious dramatic actor and his tireless efforts to entertain U.S. troops overseas.  

The program also includes an exclusive, new interview with Williams’ former “Mork & Mindy” co-star Pam Dawber, who shares for the first time on camera since his death, her memories of working with him.  Dawber was the actor who worked most closely with Robin Williams, and for the longest stretch -- more than four years.  The two remained friends long after the show’s end and had spoken just a few weeks before his death.

Celebrities and friends of the late actor were recently interviewed by filmmakers Steve Boettcher and Mike Trinklein at the famed Comedy Store in Los Angeles, where they shared stories and discussed Williams’ body of work, from stand-up to television to film. Featured interviews include remembrances from co-stars Henry Winkler (“Happy Days”), and Yakov Smirnoff (“Moscow on the Hudson”), to comedians Louie Anderson, Paul Rodriguez, Rick Overton, Blake Clark, and Pauly Shore, and comedy producer George Schlatter. Other interviews about Williams include: Penny Marshall, the late Jonathan Winters, Whoopi Goldberg, Jerry Stiller and Jimmie Walker.

“We were fortunate to sit down with Robin Williams quite recently for the Pioneers of Television series,” said executive producer Steve Boettcher. “We wanted to share with PBS viewers the Robin that we saw – the very unassuming, caring, genuine and gentle man who took his acting seriously, but was able to make others laugh. We hope this special provides more insight to this incredible man, in his own words.”     


WILL - WILL Highlights - September 01, 2014 ~ Comment (0)

The Fidel Castro Tapes

8 pm Tuesday, Sept. 2, on WILL-TV: The story of the Cuban dictator’s turbulent career, told in part through media reports, rare images and recordings.

Fidel Castro

The Fidel Castro Tapes uses rarely- and never-before-seen  images to tell the life story of the controversial leader of Cuba. The program, airing Tuesday, Sept. 2, at 8 pm on WILL-TV, brings Castro’s tumultuous career to life.

To some an icon of resistance and to others the very face of dictatorial oppression, Fidel Castro was one of the most provocative political figures of the 20th century.  The Fidel Castro Tapes chronicles how his drive and charisma catapulted him to power in Cuba and how he used these traits to maintain control of his country for nearly five decades and capture the attention of the world.

Instead of telling his story through interviews, the program relies solely on media reports, rare images and recordings to document Castro’s turbulent life. In addition, the program features footage obtained from several Cuban archives.

By using an “in the moment” style of storytelling, The Fidel Castro Tapes gives viewers a sense of being present during the most significant moments of Castro’s career — and gives remarkable insight into his personality.  The film details how Castro gained control of his island nation and  how he tried — and failed — to win the friendship of the United States, showing why relations with the U.S. deteriorated as it became obvious that many members of Castro’s ruling party were Communist. 

Because of the Communist threat, the U.S. banned importation of Cuban sugar — the main economic engine in Cuba. In response, Castro seized all American-held businesses in his country, including sugar plantations, and, as a result, the U.S. issued an embargo on all Cuban goods, an embargo still in force today.

From the failed U.S.-backed invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs and the tense stand-off of the Cuban Missile Crisis, to the collapse of the Soviet Union and the financial destruction that came with it, the film examines Castro’s tumultuous career and his resilient hold on power.

The programalso covers watershed events in Castro’s career such as the Mariel Boatlift, the downing of two U.S. civilian planes, and the custody battle between Castro and the United States over the fate of six-year-old Cuban refugee Elian Gonzalez.

Finally, the program follows Castro’s declining health, his decision to cede power to his brother, Raul, and Raul’s efforts to continue Fidel’s legacy. The film shows that even though Castro is now out of the public eye, he remains the most prominent figure in Cuba’s history. The Fidel Castro Tapes brings to life, in vivid detail, the career of a man who is at once described as both a pariah and a legend.




WILL - WILL Highlights - August 31, 2014 ~ Comment (0)

Come to our preview event for Ken Burns’ ‘The Roosevelts’

7:30 pm Tues., Sept. 9: Get a sneak preview of the series and hear local experts react.

Franklin, Eleanor and Theodore Roosevelt

Join us at Clark-Lindsey Village, 101 W. Windsor Rd. in Urbana, for a special 40-minute sneak preview and discussion of The Roosevelts: An Intimate History at 7:30 pm Tuesday, Sept. 9. No RSVP is required.

After we view clips from the series, Presidential speeches expert John Murphy, University of Illinois associate professor of communication, and Mark Leff, professor emeritus of history, will react to the videos and make brief remarks before answering questions from the audience.

Murphy studies the rhetoric of the U.S. presidency and contemporary politics; presidential war rhetoric and campaign speeches. Leff specializes in post-1900 public policy and social movements, war and society, and civil liberties.

For those who live near Bloomington-Normal, there's another preview event, sponsored by WTVP and WILL, at 7 pm Monday, Sept. 8, at the Normal Theater, 209 W. North St., in Uptown Normal. New Illinois Public Media and WTVP CEO President Moss Bresnahan will be there to greet guests.

The Roosevelts: An Intimate History airs on WILL-TV over seven consecutive nights beginning at 7 pm Sunday, Sept. 14.

The film weaves the stories of Theodore, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, three members of one of the most prominent and influential families in American politics. The series marks the first time their individual stories have been woven into a single narrative. 

“The Roosevelts have played significant roles in other stories we’ve told before, from the National Parks to World War II,” said filmmaker Ken Burns. “It’s impossible, in fact, to visit many parts of the American experience without encountering their presence. But beyond simply sharing a bloodline or political success, they each shared a passionate belief that America is at its strongest when everyone has an equal chance. And on a personal level, they each struggled to overcome their own fears while maintaining a public face of courage.”

The Roosevelts follows the family’s story for more than a century, from Theodore’s birth in 1858 to Eleanor’s death in 1962. Over the course of those years, Theodore would become the 26th president of the United States, and his beloved niece, Eleanor, would marry his fifth cousin, Franklin, who became the 32nd president. Together, they redefined the relationship Americans had with their government and with each other, and redefined, as well, the role of the United States within the wider world. The series encompasses all the history the Roosevelts helped to make — the creation of National Parks and the digging of the Panama Canal, the New Deal and the defeat of Hitler, and the postwar struggles for civil rights at home and human rights around the world in which Eleanor Roosevelt played a central role. But it is also an intimate human story about love and betrayal, family feeling and personal courage and the conquest of fear.

Legendary actress Meryl Streep portrays Eleanor Roosevelt in readings from her personal letters and writings. Of her performance, Burns said, “As we’ve seen time and time again, Ms. Streep is a magician. Here, she completely transformed herself into Eleanor Roosevelt, simply through her voice. It was remarkable to witness. The entire cast delivers what I consider to be some of the finest voice-over work we’ve ever been fortunate enough to present.”

Joining Streep are Paul Giamatti as the voice of Theodore Roosevelt and Edward Herrmann, two-time Emmy Award nominee for his performance as Franklin Roosevelt, as the voice of FDR. 

Rounding out the cast are Patricia Clarkson, Adam Arkin, Philip Bosco, Keith Carradine, Kevin Conway, Ed Harris, John Lithgow, Josh Lucas, Carl Lumbly, Amy Madigan, Carolyn McCormick, Pamela Reed, Billy Bob Thornton and Eli Wallach.

Get more information about the series.

Watch a preview:



WILL - WILL Highlights - August 29, 2014 ~ Comment (0)

State of the Re:Union: New episodes in September

10 am Fridays beginning Sept. 12, with a poetry month special featuring Al Letson's conversations with poets from across the country about the craft.

Al Letson, host of State of the Re:Union

New episodes of State of the Re:Union are coming to WILL-AM 580 at 10 am Fridays this month. Each program is repeated at 8 pm the same day.

Sept. 12: When Words Matter: A National Poetry Month Special

Host Al Letson talks to poets from across the country about the craft, the lifestyle, the resurgence of poems as they also share pieces of their work.

Sept. 19: Birmingham: The Long Story Short

Birmingham’s past includes Freedom Riders, church bombings, civil rights marches and police dogs. This program journeys into the courtrooms, churches and backyards of Birmingham to answer whether Birmingham remains a monument to brutal segregation, or one of the few American cities willing to take a hard look at race.

Sept. 26: Re:Defining Black History

State of the Re:Union zeroes in on some of the narratives edited out of the mainstream picture of Black history and how those unknown events have affected Americans’ perception of the struggles against slavery and for civil rights.

On Sept. 5, State of the Re:Union will be replaced by a WILL special local program: Beyond Ferguson: White Fear, Black Anger, American Rage.


WILL - WILL Highlights - August 29, 2014 ~ Comment (0)

Violinist Tetzlaff performs Dvorak Violin Concerto

7 pm Tuesday, Sept. 2, with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Christian Tetzlaff

Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Salonen: Dvorák Violin Concerto
Janácek: Overture to From the House of the Dead
Dvorák:  Violin Concerto in A Minor (Christian Tetzlaff, violin)
Salonen: Nyx
Janácek: Sinfonietta
[CSO fill: Dvorák:   The Golden Spinning Wheel (Sir Mark Elder, conductor)]


WILL - WILL Highlights - August 29, 2014 ~ Comment (0)

Schumann Piano Concerto with Jonathan Biss

WILL-FM's Evening Concert: 7 pm Wednesday, Sept. 3, with the San Francisco Symphony

Jonathan Biss

San Francisco Symphony

Roberto Abbado, conductor; *Jonathan Biss, piano

Schumann: Genoveva Overture, Op. 81

*Schumann: Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 54

Ivan Fedele (b. Italy, 1953): Scena

Schubert: Symphony No. 3 in D Major, D.200

[SFS Encore: Liszt: Lamento e Trionfo from Tasso (Michael Tilson Thomas, conductor)]


WILL - WILL Highlights - August 25, 2014 ~ Comment (0)

On the Media

3 pm Sundays and 10 am Mondays on WILL-AM: A clear-eyed look at all media.

While maintaining the civility and fairness that are the hallmarks of public radio, OTM tackles sticky issues with a frankness and transparency that has built trust with listeners and led to more than a tripling of its audience in five years.

Since OTM was re-launched in 2001, it has been one of NPR's fastest growing programs, heard on more than 300 public radio stations. It has won Edward R. Murrow Awards for feature reporting and investigative reporting, the National Press Club's Arthur Rowse Award for Press Criticism and a Peabody Award for its body of work.

For more on the history of On the Media, and how it fits in to the rest of public radio, check out the "manifesto" written by OTM managing editor Brooke Gladstone for Transom.org back in 2004. You can find it here.


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