imagination

A Modern Twist on a 19th-Century Classic

 

A Modern Twist on a 19th-Century Classic: Les Misérables on MASTERPIECE

April program guide cover story by Jody Shiroma, PBS Hawai‘i

 

The story unfolds with Jean Valjean, a worn-out convict who cannot seem to break free from his life of crime, until a simple act of kindness changes his life for the better as he chooses to “pay it forward” by committing to save a young girl from a life of poverty.

 

Les Misérables: David Oyelowo as Javert, Dominic West as Jean ValjeanWhile you have probably heard of Les Misérables, or have seen the musical or the film of the musical, the dramatic interpretation of this classic novel on MASTERPIECE takes a new twist. Viewers tuning into the series will see the same story told differently, in a modern take on this French classic, as the team behind this television adaptation is ignoring the famous songs and instead embracing speaking-only roles in an ethnically diverse cast sporting British accents in a French setting. The intent is to add a contemporary feel to the 150-year-old story.

 

The series features an esteemed ensemble of actors to bring the story to life. It stars Dominic West in the iconic role of ex-convict Jean Valjean, David Oyelowo as his nemesis Javert and Lily Collins as the destitute Fantine as key players in the amazing cast.

Les Misérables: Lily Collins as FantineThis television adaptation of Les Misérables brings the renowned classic by Victor Hugo vibrantly to life through colorful and fetching characters. Multi award-winning screenwriter Andrew Davies goes back to the original novel and digs deep into the many layers of Hugo’s story, taking viewers on a roller coaster ride through Jean Valjean and Javert’s cat-and-mouse relationship set against the epic backdrop of France at a time of civil unrest.

 

Les Misérables includes some of the most famous characters in European literature, and touches upon many of the same social problems that we face today – the struggle of poverty, crime and punishment, good vs. evil, social injustice and wrong vs. right.

 

Director Tom Shankland says: “Working with this incredible cast on Andrew Davies’ fantastic adaptation of Les Misérables, really is a dream come true. We want to capture the thrilling spirit of passion and protest in Victor Hugo’s novel and make it feel more relevant than ever. The conviction, intensity and authenticity that all of these actors bring to their work is going to be a massive part of making this story speak to audiences everywhere.”

Les Misérables on MASTERPIECE

Sundays at 8:00 pm
April 14 – May 19, 2019
on PBS Hawaiʻi
Watch a preview here

 
Les Misérables on Masterpiece

 

 

 

A childhood discovery and a journey of 1500 pages

 

CEO Message

 

A childhood discovery and a journey of 1500 pages

Leslie Wilcox, PBS Hawai‘i President and CEOI was a barefoot third-grader, playing with hula hoops in a friend’s garage in Āina Haina, when I spied a stack of old comic books.

 

That was my unlikely introduction to Les Misérables. The foreign words were on the cover of a Classics Illustrated comic book, where a man carrying another was running from pursuers in a rat-infested tunnel.

 

My playmate and I dropped our hoops and hunched over that top book in the stack. The drawings were dramatic – and even more striking were the words, painting the story of a man who was both hero and crook, good and bad, trusted and untrustworthy, long-suffering and impatient, a man who hated and loved.

Comic book cover art of Victor Hugo's Les MisérablesWe’d found a magic comic book that was not the usual kid stuff of bright, positive absolutes.

 

Even though the story was set far away and long ago, it resonated deeply. It spoke to the confusing contradictions I’d already experienced in my young life – a father who promised to be home at night but rarely was; an admired teen scholar/ athlete who kicked his dog when he thought no one could see; and the much-feared school bully who was understanding and even gracious when I accidentally hit him in the face with a kickball.

 

A couple of years later, during summer vacation, I wanted more than the comic book version of Les Misérables. As it turned out (just my luck!), the hardcover novel is one of the longest books in European literature, nearly 1,500 pages. On top of that, I needed to have a second book handy, the dictionary. I still remember the first of many words I looked up: morass.

 

Reading the novel sometimes felt like slogging through a morass. Author Victor Hugo would digress into long, detailed histories – of the Battle of Waterloo, the construction of Paris sewers and more. Those parts, I skimmed.

 

However, I was forever held by the main story line which famously starts with Jean Valjean sent to prison for stealing bread to feed his widowed sister’s seven children. The story enveloped me in a world in which I was often trying to decipher the boundaries of right and wrong, good and evil, war and peace, love and hate.

 

Later, when I covered poverty as a journalist, I would return to Les Misérables to re-read this stinging quote: “There is always more misery among the lower classes than there is humanity in the higher.”

 

Since childhood, I’ve always been eager to see new adaptations of Les Misérables, on stage and screen. I hope you’ll join me in spirit, on the community sofa, to view this latest PBS television presentation.

 

Les Misérables on MASTERPIECE

Sundays at 8:00 pm
April 14 – May 19, 2019
on PBS Hawaiʻi

 

Learn more about Les Misérables
in our program guide cover story by
Jody Shiroma, VP of Communications, PBS Hawaiʻi.

 

Aloha Nui,

Leslie signature


 

 

 

THE GREAT AMERICAN READ
Who Am I?

 

Explore the ways that America’s best-loved novels answer the age-old question, “Who am I?” From life lessons to spiritual journeys, these books help us understand our own identities and find our place in the world.

 

 

THE GREAT AMERICAN READ
Fall Kick Off

 

Join host Meredith Vieira in the search for America’s best-loved novel. The voting is underway, and the competition is heating up. Any book could win.

 

 

THE GREAT AMERICAN READ

Vote for your favorite novel!

 

Our favorite books occupy a special place in our hearts. They help us to exercise our imagination, shift our perspective and open our minds.

 

THE GREAT AMERICAN READ

 

THE GREAT AMERICAN READ

 

This summer, PBS puts a spotlight on the power of reading with The Great American Read, hosted by Meredith Vieira. This eight-part PBS series and community engagement campaign is designed to spark a national conversation about reading, and the books that have inspired, moved and shaped us. The project also explores the ways that our favorite books have shaped our collective imagination – asking what they have to say about our diverse nation, and how these stories affect us as readers.

 

Launching with a two-hour special on May 22 at 8:00 pm, the series hopes to encourage a multi-generational, multi-platform dialogue about literacy in America.

 

 

Just prior to the May 22 launch episode, PBS will reveal the list of 100 novels the public will be voting on throughout the summer. The online voting campaign is the first-ever national vote to choose “America’s Best-Loved Books.” The novels on the top 100 list were chosen by the American public in a specially commissioned, demographically representative national survey conducted by market research firm YouGov.

 

Prominent authors and celebrities such as Margaret Atwood, Juno Díaz, Lauren Graham, John Irving, George R.R. Martin, Devon Kennard and more will lend their voices and share their personal stories and connections to their favorite titles.

 

The series returns in the fall with five one-hour specials designed to take a deeper dive into the books on the list, grouped by theme. Leading literary experts will help us understand how these books and themes relate to our history, culture, psychology and the human condition – and what they mean to us today.

 

By Emilie Howlett


The Great American Read

THE GREAT AMERICAN READ

 

Our favorite books occupy a special place in our hearts. They help us to exercise our imagination, shift our perspective and open our minds.

 

THE GREAT AMERICAN READ

 

 

HIKI NŌ
Episode # 911: Focus On Compassion: Self-Identity, Crystal Cebedo update

 

This episode is an encore presentation of a HIKI NŌ special that first aired in the summer of 2017– HIKI NŌ Focus On Compassion: Self-Identity –hosted and co-written by HIKI NŌ alumna and Wai‘anae High School graduate Crystal Cebedo. This encore presentation includes a brief update on Crystal, who is majoring in Marketing and Human Resources at Menlo College in Atherton, California on a full scholarship.

 

The HIKI NŌ stories in this special look at compassion for self-identity in terms of culture, gender, body image, ethnicity, or appearance. They include:

 

“Calcee Nance” from Kaua‘i High School on Kaua‘i: the story of a teen mentor at the Boys and Girls Club whose instinct to nurture and feed others was inspired by her relationship with her late mother.

 

“Kimberly Yap” from Lahainaluna High School on Maui: the story of a young woman whose decisions about her future are complicated by her multicultural identity as a half Filipina, half Micronesian born in Kiribati and raised on Maui.

 

“Mark Yamanaka” from Mid-Pacific on O‘ahu: a feature on Mark Yamanaka, a Nā Hōkū Hanohano Award-winning musician, who overcame internal conflicts about being a non-Hawaiian playing Hawaiian music. He has since been embraced by the Hawaiian music community for his commitment to learning and singing in the Hawaiian language and his skillful guitar playing.

 

“Cosplay” from Waiākea High School on Hawai‘i Island: a look at how cosplay – dressing up as characters from books, movies, or your own imagination – gave a group of high school students the freedom to express their true selves in a creative and fun way.

 

“Body Image” from Maui Waena Intermediate School on Maui: a look at how the images of females onscreen and in magazines had a negative impact on one girl’s self-image and self-confidence.

 

“Through Rachel’s Camera” from ‘Iolani School on O‘ahu: the story of a young woman who uses her camera and art to combat traditional gender stereotypes and to express her identity as a feminist and activist.

 

“Pride and Diversity” from Moanalua High School on O‘ahu: a feature on how the Honolulu Pride Parade and Festival helps support and encourage LGBTQ youth who often don’t see themselves reflected in their school or local communities.

 

“Aurora’s Story” from Wai‘anae Intermediate School on O‘ahu: a look at how one teacher uses her experience with trichotillomania, an impulse disorder that results in her pulling out her hair, to teach her students about self-acceptance.

 

 

HIKI NŌ
Focus on Compassion: Self-Identity

 

The third of four Focus on Compassion HIKI NŌ episodes compiles archived stories that center on the theme of compassion for self-identity. This four-episode series is hosted by Crystal Cebedo, a 2016 HIKI NŌ and Wai‘anae High School graduate who is currently attending Menlo College in Atherton, California. The stories in this episode look specifically at compassion for self-identity in terms of culture, gender, body image, ethnicity, or appearance.

 

The outstanding HIKI NŌ stories in this Focus on Compassion show include:

 

“Calcee Nance” from Kaua‘i High School on Kaua‘i: the story of a teen mentor at the Boys and Girls Club whose instinct to nurture and feed others was inspired by her relationship with her late mother.

 

“Kimberly Yap” from Lahainaluna High School on Maui: the story of a young woman whose decisions about her future are complicated by her multicultural identity as a half-Filipina, half-Micronesian born in Kiribati and raised on Maui.

 

“Mark Yamanaka” from Mid-Pacific on O‘ahu: a feature on Mark Yamanaka, a Nā Hōkū Hanohano Award-winning musician, who overcame internal conflicts about being a non-Hawaiian playing Hawaiian music. He has since been embraced by the Hawaiian music community for his commitment to learning and singing in the Hawaiian language and his skillful guitar playing.

 

“Cosplay” from Waiākea High School on Hawai‘i Island: a look at how cosplay – dressing up as characters from books, movies, or your own imagination – gave a group of high school students the freedom to express their true selves in a creative and fun way.

 

“Body Image” from Maui Waena Intermediate School on Maui: a look at how the images of females onscreen and in magazines had a negative impact on one girl’s self-image and self-confidence.

 

“Through Rachel’s Camera” from ‘Iolani School on O‘ahu: the story of a young woman who uses her camera and art to combat traditional gender stereotypes and to express her identity as a feminist and activist.

 

“Pride and Diversity” from Moanalua High School on O‘ahu: a feature on how the Honolulu Pride Parade and Festival helps support and encourage LGBTQ youth who often don’t see themselves reflected in their school or local communities.

 

“Aurora’s Story” from Wai‘anae Intermediate School on O‘ahu: a look at how one teacher uses her experience with trichotillomania, an impulse disorder that results in her pulling out her hair, to teach her students about self-acceptance.

 

This program encores Saturday, Sept. 23, at 12:00 pm and Sunday, Sept. 24, at 3:00 pm. You can also view HIKI NŌ episodes on our website, www.pbshawaii.org/hikino.

 


What Drives KEN BURNS?

 

CEO Message

What Drives Ken Burns?

 

Ken Burns, Photo courtesy of Justin Altman

 

Filmmaker Ken Burns, who’s coming out with an 18-hour Vietnam War film to be shown over 10 evenings this month on PBS Hawai‘i, freely admits that he’s a workaholic; that he’s obsessive in his pursuit of archival material for his films; that his detractors dismiss him as long-winded.

 

And Burns can laugh at himself.

 

As he did when he was being honored as the greatest American documentary filmmaker of his generation. Stepping up to receive a lifetime achievement, he joked that he’d prepared a nine-part response.

 

He had to learn about laughter, since sadness and loss were prevailing childhood themes.

 

Burns, 64, is clear about what drives him and his compulsion to look at the past. It is the death of his mother, Lyla Burns, just before he turned 12. She had suffered from breast cancer for nearly a decade.

 

Burns remembers coming home from school or play every day and telling his ailing mother stories about what had happened, in effect sharing life with her. After she passed away, he recalls watching movies with father, Robert Burns, and seeing him cry, which was something his father didn’t do in other circumstances. That’s when young Burns says he grasped the storytelling power of film.

 

In a short video posted online at creativeplanetnetwork.com, Burns says: “I found myself becoming a documentary filmmaker, trying to tell stories and using American history to tell those stories that I wanted to tell. When you look back at it, the job that I try to do is to wake the dead. And it doesn’t seem too far a leap to understand, from that early decision to be a filmmaker, who I really want to wake up.”

 

From the earliest time that he can remember as a child, he says he knew his beloved mom was sick. He was not close to his father.

 

As a young man, he rejected chasing a Hollywood-type career. He says he innately knew, and was taught at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, that “there’s much more drama in what is and what was, than in anything the human imagination can dream of.”

 

Delivering the commencement address at Stanford University last year, Burns explained that delving into history can lead to personal and professional breakthroughs.

 

“The past often offers an illuminating and clear-headed perspective from which to observe and reconcile the passions of the present moment, just when they threaten to overwhelm us,” he told new graduates.

 

Burns wants this newest film with his creative partner Lynn Novick, about the divisive Vietnam War era, to spur national healing.

 

As he told an interviewer from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee:

 

“We caught something during the Vietnam War – like a virus – and we are still suffering from the effects of that virus today. I’m hoping my film is a bit like a vaccination – that it exposes you to a little bit of the disease to permit you to go past it and heal from it.”

 

I invite you to join me in viewing this new Burns/Novick film series, starting at 8:00 pm, Sunday, September 17, on your TV station, PBS Hawai‘i.

 

A hui hou (until next time),
Leslie Wilcoxʻ signature