What's new in business books, TV, film

A sampling of business-related offerings in media this month:


Families Stand Together: Feeling Secure in Tough Times

PBS, Wednesday, 8 p.m. ET (check local listings or pbs.org)

Even Sesame Street is not immune from the financial crisis. In this sweetly sobering special, Al Roker and his wife, Deborah Roberts, visit with families, both real and Muppet, who are trying to cope with the fear and anxiety of economic hardship.

Grover and Elmo help run a community market, where they encounter a family selling T-shirts to help make ends meet. For the educational component, personal-finance experts and family therapists contribute tips on talking to children about job loss, forced moves and wants vs. needs.

It's heartbreaking to hear a child's voice say, "My dad, he got laid off, and we had to move because we didn't have enough money." But it's inspiring to see families grow closer and stronger. As one father said, "If my job goes, the family still lives on."

The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant

HBO2: Wednesday, 8 p.m.; HBO: Thursday, 9:30 a.m. and Sunday, 12:45 p.m.

This emotionally charged 40-minute film sympathetically documents the shuttering of an Ohio SUV assembly plant from the point of view of those who are among hardest hit: the hourly GM workers.

Director/producers Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert let the forklift operators, line workers and electricians speak as they leave their shifts in the months leading up to the Dec. 23, 2008, closing. With clarity and thoughtfulness, the workers visibly struggle with feelings of anger, loss and uncertainty.

"I've got a better life than my dad, but my grandson isn't going to have a better life than his grandpa. And that sucks," a toolmaker named Popeye says, adding that the plant's closing is part of a larger decline in the USA's manufacturing base that marks the end of "the good life" for many.

Others lament the loss of the relationships they've forged in the factory, speak proudly of their work and can't imagine what jobs, if any, they'll be able to find.

"I have to go out here and reinvent myself at 45 years old," one woman says. "I've got a high-school diploma, and this is all I've ever known."

Your Life, Your Money

PBS, Wednesday, 9 p.m. ET (check local listings or pbs. org)

Stay tuned after the Sesame Street Workshop show for another educational financial program, this one aimed at a slightly older crowd of teens and twentysomethings. Scrubs star Donald Faison is the host, with appearances by hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons and personal-finance gurus such as Michelle Singletary of The Washington Post. Mixed in between are a handful of young people who share their money woes and successes: a recent college graduate living on his own for the first time; a freelance Web designer; a single mother; and a college student who owes $30,000 on her credit cards.

The fast pace and non-preachy tone soften the blow of solid, if sometimes unwelcome, advice, such as distinguishing between needs and wants, living within your means and the importance of saving, to a group that sorely needs it. According to the show, the average college student graduates with $2,600 in credit card debt, and one in three young adults lack health insurance.

Bank of Mom and Dad

Soapnet, Sept. 30, 10 p.m. ET/PT

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