The Austin Chronicle

Another 'Special Session'

By Wells Dunbar, January 24, 2007, 10:12am, Newsdesk

We knew something good had to come out of the Lege's return, aside from a bunch of dead grackles: Our favorite public affairs program is returning to KLRU. Special Session is hosted by the indomitable Paul Stekler, documentary filmmaker of George Wallace: Settin' the Woods on Fire, Last Man Standing: Politics Texas Style (documenting the Patrick Rose/Rick Green electoral battle) and more. (Going off Green's E-Day sucker punch of Rose, maybe Stekler can host some ultimate-fighting-style brawl between the two to settle things for good. It would work wonders for the pledge drive.)

Anywho, each week Special Session devotes its half-hour to a new issue, with Stekler and his creekbed-dry wit querying his quests. According to the SS episode guide, upcoming shows touch on the new legislature, John Sharp, Ann Richards, and social services, like CHIP. But to get a better idea of the show, why not watch an episode? They have all their past episodes online for viewing, but may I suggest you begin here? A good show, but jeez, that King guy…

Special Session
convenes Sunday, February 4, at 11am on KLRU. More info from PBS below the fold.

Special Session Returns for Second Season

KLRU Weekly Statewide Public Affairs Show Hosted by Emmy Award-Winning Filmmaker Paul Stekler Presents In-depth Coverage of State Legislature

AUSTIN, Texas — Jan. 23, 2007 — KLRU-TV, Austin PBS, in association with Midnight Films, announces the return of the statewide series, Special Session, hosted by Emmy Award-winning filmmaker and University of Texas Radio-Television-Film Professor Paul Stekler. The series debuts at Sunday, February 4, at 11 a.m. on Texas PBS stations (check local listings).

Each week, journalists, politicos and other notable Texans take on the issues and politics confronting this year’s 80th session of the Texas Legislature in this Lone Star Emmy-nominated half-hour series. Special Session will air on PBS stations in Amarillo, Austin, College Station, Corpus Christi, Dallas, El Paso, Houston, Lubbock, San Antonio and Waco. In Austin, Special Session will air Sundays at 11 a.m. on KLRU and Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m. on KLRU2.

Produced in Austin, Special Session will interweave documentary and discussion to stay one step ahead of the legislation destined to affect our lives long after the legislators head home. The first month’s programs will feature a look back at the late Gov. Ann Richards (including a short documentary using never-seen-before footage), former state Comptroller John Sharp looking back on the school finance plan he helped pass last year, and the impact of human service cuts across Texas.

“Getting the chance to cover a session of the Texas Legislature again, in a series like Special Session, is a political junkie’s dream,” said Stekler whose credits include “Last Man Standing” and “George Wallace: Settin’ the Woods on Fire.” “We get to cover issues in-depth, travel around Texas, talk to some of the most interesting political observers in the state, and keep current, with a show to air every week for the duration of the session. It’s also a real challenge, something very different than producing long form documentaries.”

Special Session is one of several locally produced, award winning programs that KLRU airs. “KLRU is really excited to be able to work again with Paul and his team of nationally recognized filmmakers to create a show about one of the most interesting political arenas in the country,” said Bill Stotesbery, CEO and General Manager of KLRU.

Each week Special Session will tackle one of the state’s most pressing issues. The show will also feature a look at the media, Lobby and those who make the Legislature work from Stekler’s unique perspective.

For more information about Special Session, visit Each episode will be available for video-streaming at that site after its broadcast.

Special Session is a production of KLRU in association with Midnight Films. Funding for Special Session is provided in part by the Bernard and Audre Rapoport Foundation, Public Strategies Inc., The Meredith Family Foundation and the Nowlin Family Fund at the Austin Community Foundation. Additional support is provided by Garrett and Cecilia Boone.

KLRU-TV, Austin PBS, reflects, celebrates and inspires Central Texas through creative excellence, community engagement and lifelong learning. Although primarily a television station providing locally produced and quality national programming, KLRU is also a non-profit organization helping to build a stronger community through five areas of focus — KLRU Presents, KLRU Explores, KLRU Creates, KLRU Connects and KLRU Educates. In Austin, KLRU is channel 18, cable channel 9. For more information about KLRU, visit

ABOUT Special Session Production Team:
Paul Stekler (Host/Executive Producer) has produced many of PBS’s most honored documentaries on American politics including “George Wallace: Settin’ the Woods on Fire” (Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival), “Last Man Standing: Politics, Texas Style,” “Vote for Me: Politics in America,” and “Louisiana Boys: Raised on Politics.” His films have won numerous Emmys, Peabodys, and DuPont-Columbia Journalism Awards. Dr. Stekler is also the Director of the LBJ School’s new Center on Politics and Governance.

Diane Zander (Series Producer) is an Emmy Award winner for her work on the Chicago PBS documentary Moving Stories. She makes documentaries while teaching media production at the University of Texas at Austin. Her latest documentary, “Girl Wrestler,” was broadcast nationally on PBS’s “Independent Lens.” A summa cum laude graduate of Northwestern University, she received her MFA in film and video production at the University of Texas.

Megan Field (Series Producer) most recently did independent producing and research for “Frontline’s The Choice,” while also working on a film on the Bush family for German ARD-TV, which aired in France, Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Megan was the associate producer and assistant editor on “Last Man Standing.” Previously, she served two years as the Co-Conference Director of the Austin Film Festival. She is a graduate of the Radio-Television-Film program at the University of Texas.

Sandra Guardado (Series Editor) won an Emmy for her work on “George Wallace: Settin’ the Woods on Fire.” She was the Editor and Co-Producer on “Last Man Standing: Politics, Texas Style.” She is also an editor on a new series entitled State of Tomorrow about higher education and innovation set to air statewide in Texas starting in February.

Deborah Eve Lewis (Series Cinematographer) has shoot all of Paul Stekler’s recent films, including “Last Man Standing” and “Spit Farther!.” Besides “Special Session,” their next project is a feature length documentary about the late Governor Ann Richards. Her last narrative feature, “Afraid of Everything,” premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.

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