LIFE 360, the new weekly one-hour series from PBS premiering Friday, October 5 at 9:00 p.m. (check local listings) will present some of America's most talented storytellers exploring themes of daily life through documentary film, personal commentary, comedy, and music. Hosted by Michel Martin, the series is co-produced by Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB) and the producers of ABC News' much-honored Nightline.
Each week's theme is anchored by a documentary piece and supported by the night's other contributors, who take it apart, put it back together again, and explore unexpected perspectives. To quote host Martin, "Great stories, well told" - that's the heart of LIFE 360.
PROGRAM ONE: SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION (October 5)
How are we connected to each other? In "Six Degrees of Separation," Anna Deavere Smith and Jake Johannsen look at how closely we are all connected; the documentary "The Ripple Effect" probes the impact of the lives of four men who were all saved by the same hero in Vietnam; Pulitzer Prize winning writer Ron Suskind takes us back to 1969 when the nation shared in one, great human experience: the first moon landing and Robert Krulwich takes an animated look at Julius Caesar's last breath. Music from the band Train. Michel Martin hosts.
PROGRAM TWO: FOOD (October 12)
The stuff of life, and much more. In "New York Kitchens," commentator Robert Krulwich takes viewers behind the scenes at some of New York's most exclusive restaurants; Cuban-American performer Carmen Pelaez leads us into the Cuban food culture of Miami's Little Havana; a short film, "Dumpster Diving" invites us to dine with young eco-radicals who salvage their meals from the trash, and Margaret Cho reflects on a lifetime spent loving food and battling weight. Music from singer Dianne Reeves. Michel Martin hosts while on location in Miami.
PROGRAM THREE: A PLACE IN TIME (October 19)
Random events and chance meetings can change lives. "Forever Fourteen," a documentary film by Kelly St. John, tells a story of criminal assault, survival, and coming to terms. In "Meet Me Under the Clock," writer Ron Suskind shares tales of romance that began with encounters under a famous New York clock. Margaret Cho muses on the circle being unbroken - whether the circle represents religion or pizza. Music from Mary Chapin Carpenter. Michel Martin hosts.
PROGRAM FOUR: VOICE (October 26)
Our voices are as distinctive as our faces. Peter Nicks' film "Stutter Step" profiles the great college running back Adrian Peterson, whose stutter can make his speech as halting as his feet are swift. The 19th-century show business phenomenon "Blind Tom," an illiterate slave, wrote and performed lush romantic piano music; John Davis plays Blind Tom's compositions in this sequence from producer Jill Rosenbaum. Host Michel Martin interviews ventriloquist Spencer Horsman, and filmmaker Alix Lambert contributes a portrait of her "Uncle Stanley," 95 year-old poet Stanley Kunitz. Music from John Hiatt. Michel Martin hosts.
PROGRAM FIVE: ROOTS (November 2)
We all came from somewhere else, and we all carry a legacy from our ancestors. "Journey to Africa/Journey Home" follows a group of African-Americans on an emotional pilgrimage to Senegal, Ghana, and Benin - the tragic terminals of the slave trade. "Waters That Separate" profiles Gwendolyn Midlo-Hall, who has created a database that traces the roots of hundreds of thousands of Africans who were sold into New World slavery. In "One Drop of Blood," an Alaskan woman exploring her family tree discovers ancestors of color in New Orleans. Margaret Cho reflects on her Korean roots. Music from the up and coming cabaret singer Darius de Haas. Michel Martin hosts.
PROGRAM SIX: JUNK (November 9)
One person's junk is another's treasure. "E-Bay," a film by Nancy Roach looks at the community of one of the most successful of all Web sites and, some would argue, the world's biggest swap meet. "Savers & Throwers" profiles those who save everything and those who throw everything away - and who occasionally marry each other. "Upscale Junk" visits the Nantucket town dump, where usable junk is available to all. Margaret Cho relates a shocking discovery in a junk shop. Music from Jude. Michel Martin hosts.
PROGRAM SEVEN: LEAVING HOME (November 16)
Leaving home is both a beginning and an end. "Seeds of Growth" takes viewers to a unique inner-city boarding school that provides a challenging environment for students without making them leave their neighborhoods. In "Return to St. Paul's," Michel Martin recalls her first time away from home, in a school which had previously had few female and African-American students. "From Minsk to Nashville" introduces Bering Strait, a country-western band from Russia on the road for their first U.S. tour; Margaret Cho describes the freedom of living on her own as a teenager. "A Life Uncloistered" profiles a nun who leaves the convent that was her home for 70 years. Music from Suzanne Vega. Michel Martin hosts.
PROGRAM EIGHT: BRIDGES (November 23)
An early engineering triumph and a metaphor for connection. San Francisco's Bay Bridge is 65 years old, and is literally being taken apart and put together again in anticipation of "the big one" while traffic continues to flow across it. The people behind the transformation are profiled in Peter Nicks' film "Heavy Lifting." Michel Martin rides across "A Bridge Too Far," accompanying a state trooper who drives "bridge phobics" over the Chesapeake Bridge, and Cuban-American performer Carmen Pelaez takes us to her favorite place to meditate on life: New York's Brooklyn Bridge. Music from a guest to be announced. Michel Martin hosts while on location in San Francisco.
PROGRAM NINE: MILESTONES (January 4, 2002)
Life's big events can be painful or productive, but they'll be memorable. "On the Verge," a film by Tami Yeager, follows graduating high school students as they head out into the world. Filmmaker Mary Beth Kirchner chronicles her mother's difficult adjustment to widowhood. "Butter Sculptures," by Academy Award-winner Stephen Okazaki, goes to Minnesota's Dairy Princesses beauty pageant, in which the entrants are sculpted in butter. "My Adoption" tells an unusual story of adoptive parents and adopted child. Music from Five for Fighting. Michel Martin hosts.
PROGRAM TEN: FLYING (January 11, 2002)
Even today, flying remains magical - the active ingredient in the shrinking of the world. In "How I Learned to Fly," filmmaker Alix Lambert takes the controls of a small plane, floats weightless in NASA free-fall, and boards the Goodyear Blimp. "Fly-O-Rama" proves that it's physically impossible for a fly to get off the ground - but nobody seems to have told the fly. Music from Aimee Mann. Michel Martin hosts while on location in Austin, TX.
ROGRAM ELEVEN: TENS (January 18, 2002)
PTen-year-olds offer their unique perspective on the world. In "Being Ten," a film by Ray Telles, host Michel Martin discusses life with a group of tens from Oakland, California. Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Ron Suskind examines the way ten-year-old boys idolize sports heroes in "Sports Forever." Comedian Jake Johannsen gets answers to questions from a group of ten-year-olds, and "Ten-Year-Old Dog" presents perspectives on the world from a tired dog. Music from Alana Davis.
PROGRAM TWELVE: OWNING UP (Tentative title) (January 25, 2002)
- Perspectives from the forgiven, the forgivers, and the unrepentant. "The Pilot" profiles a former airline pilot who was sent to prison for flying while intoxicated but who returned to the cockpit after his release and a battle with his disease. Music from Shawn Colvin. Michel Martin hosts while on location in Minneapolis.
PROGRAM THIRTEEN: MONUMENTS (February 1, 2002)
Why do some monuments have such enduring fascination? Writer Ron Suskind and Academy Award-winning filmmakers Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman present "Prairie Dogs," a whimsical trip across monument-rich South Dakota, from Mount Rushmore to the Corn Palace. Jake Johannsen wages a campaign to place the current president on Mount Rushmore as recompense for the country's failure to deliver him a majority of the popular vote last November. Music from a guest to be announced. Michel Martin hosts.