News Column

Bogdanovich on PBS documentary about 'War of the Worlds'

October 27, 2013

YellowBrix

Oct. 27--Peter Bogdanovich, a film director and cinema historian who has taught at UNC School of the Arts, is among the interview subjects in a PBS documentary about one of the most famous Halloween pranks of all time.

"American Experience: War of the Worlds" will air at 9 p.m. Tuesday on UNC-TV. It is also being released that day on DVD and digital download. The hour-long program examines the 1938 incident when CBS Radio carried a dramatization of the H.G. Wells sci-fi story "War of the Worlds," about an alien invasion from the planet Mars. The story -- starring Orson Welles -- was told in the form of a series of news reports, which led thousands of listeners to believe the world was under assault.

Before the broadcast, CBS announced that it was a dramatization, but many listeners tuned in late and missed that information. At the end of the live broadcast, Welles told audiences that the production "has no further significance than as the holiday offering it was intended to be ... if your doorbell rings and nobody's there, that was no Martian, it's Halloween."

In addition to Bogdanovich, Welles' daughter Chris Welles Feder and an assortment of authors and other experts are interviewed about the ensuing panic and what the incident says about the power of media.

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One of the fall season's highest-profile TV gigs for a UNCSA alumnus has turned out to be short-lived. NBC pulled the plug on "Ironside" after four low-rated episodes. The final episode aired Wednesday.

The series was a remake of the classic 1967-75 show, with Blair Underwood taking over Raymond Burr's role as a paraplegic police detective. Neal Bledsoe, a UNCSA alum, had a supporting role as Teddy, one of Ironside's assistants.

NBC has also canceled the sitcom "Welcome to the Family." Earlier this season, ABC canceled its low-rated drama "Lucky 7" and CBS dropped the comedy "We Are Men."

Full seasons have already been ordered for "The Blacklist," "Brooklyn Nine-Nine," "The Crazy Ones," "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.," "The Michael J. Fox Show," "The Millers," and "Mom." Fox's surprise hit "Sleepy Hollow" -- which is filmed in North Carolina -- has been picked up for a second season.

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Horace Vincent Rogers, an actor from Greensboro and a veteran of the National Black Theatre Festival, will appear in tonight's episode of "Boardwalk Empire" at 9 p.m. on HBO.

Rogers plays a character named Deacon Markham in the gangster drama. "Nobody's safe on the 'Boardwalk,' not even a man of the cloth," Rogers told the Greensboro News & Record by email. "All I can do is pray and duck."

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The first season of "Burning Love," a clever parody of dating reality shows, is among this week's DVD releases on Tuesday. The series, which originally aired online, is at times pitch-perfect in its mockery of reality TV, with a cast including such stars as Ken Marino, Kristen Bell, Michael Ian Black and Adam Scott.

Other new releases include the first season of "Family Tree," HBO's mock-documentary written and created by Christopher Guest ("Best in Show," "This is Spinal Tap") about an aimless young man tracing his family history and visiting distant relatives; and the ninth season of "Poirot," the long-running British series with David Suchet as Agatha Christian's charming Belgian detective. Available on DVD or Blu-ray, the set has digitally remastered copies of four stories, including "Death on the Nile."

tclodfelter@wsjournal.com

(336) 727-7371

Twitter: @tclodfelterwsj

Facebook: /tclodfelterwsj

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