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News From the Front

By Belinda Acosta, May 11, 2007, Screens

The controversy surrounding Ken Burns' The War continues. Following complaints by national Latino organizations that the new documentary did not mention the Latino or Native American contribution to World War II, local filmmaker Hector Galán was hired to correct the omission. However, there now appears to be confusion over how the new material will be included. Defend the Honor campaign members and other Latino organizations that attended a deal-making meeting to address the issue had wanted the new footage to be integrated into the existing film. A May 5 article in The New York Times indicates that Burns has no intention of re-editing his film but wants to use the new footage as supplemental material. This is not sitting well with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, led by U.S. Rep. Joe Baca, D-Calif. "We will not settle for separate but equal treatment in this documentary," he said, according to the Times piece by Elizabeth Jensen. "All we are asking for is an accurate reflection of history."

The Hispanic caucus suggests a boycott of the film's sponsors – General Motors, Anheuser-Busch, and Bank of America – should Burns not re-edit his film. Other organizations are recommending a defunding of PBS altogether. New York state legislators have joined the American GI Forum in this call, pointing out that since PBS and Burns have benefited by taxpayer support, they have a responsibility to serve the public (including Latinos) and, more importantly, history. While Burns and PBS earlier appeared to recapitulate, according to the Times piece, a statement issued by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting dated May 2 (apparently sent only to large media outlets) "reminded Congress of the editorial independence that was guaranteed in the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967," thereby reaffirming the original response to The War critics: that PBS does not interfere with a filmmakers' vision.

Burns is much more adamant, saying that re-editing his film "would be destructive, like trying to graft an arm onto your child."

Galán, on a location shoot for The War over the weekend, was not available for comment at press time.

Other News and Notes

Series reprieve: ABC has finally issued the word on Lost. The drama has been given till the 2009-'10 season to wrap things up. The network has ordered 48 more episodes over three seasons, with promises to air each season uninterrupted.

If you are like me and have lost the love for Lost, I assume you have already turned to that other series that surfs the serialized drama of epic proportions, Heroes (NBC). But there is another drama, flying under the radar, that is based in reality and is much more challenging: Jericho (CBS). Like Lost, the characters of Jericho are coping with unusual circumstances (a nuclear holocaust) that bring out the best and worst in people vying for limited resources and jockeying for power.

Jericho doesn't have the glossy veneer of Lost or even Heroes, but what it lacks in style it makes up for in a solid storyline. My only complaint with Jericho is that the women are underused. Pamela Reed as the series matriarch should be able to do more than look stoic and fuss after her menfolk. I'm hoping that now that the men and women have been equally armed, the women will show their force.

Jericho airs Wednesdays at 7pm on CBS.

New series premieres: Traveler (ABC) sneak peek tonight, Thursday, May 10, 9pm. Two friends find themselves on the run after a third friend turns out to be a terrorist and leaves them to take the fall. National Bingo Night (ABC), Friday, May 18, at 8pm.

Series finales: 7th Heaven (CW) ends Sunday night after 10 seasons. Gilmore Girls (CW) ends Tuesday night after seven seasons. Season finale: Bones (Fox), Wednesday at 7pm.

Check local listings to confirm airdates and times. end story

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