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Burton on a mission to save 'Reading Rainbow'

Old 06-05-03, 03:39 PM
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Burton on a mission to save 'Reading Rainbow'

This is truly sad. I'm 23 years old, and some of my earliest (and fondest) memories are of watching this program. LeVar Burton truly is a great man.

http://www.cleveland.com/entertainme...6249199270.xml

Burton is on a mission to save 'Reading Rainbow'

06/02/03

David Bauder
Associated Press

In a plea for the life of "Reading Rainbow," host LeVar Burton returned to a familiar setting: the stage where he picked up the PBS show's seventh Emmy Award for best children's television series.

"If you are a wealthy philanthropist out there, I'm not that difficult to find," said Burton, the show's executive producer and host since it began in 1983.

He's still waiting. And "Reading Rainbow," which has counterintuitively used television to introduce children to a world of books, may only have a few months to live.

"Reading Rainbow" has several strikes against it in the battle for funding. For starters, it has no access to merchandise licensing deals, an increasingly important part of PBS's funding scheme for children's shows. There are no "Reading Rainbow" action figures to sell, no "Reading Rainbow" jammies to keep kids warm at night.

The series is also 20 years old, and many corporate benefactors prefer being involved with something new. And the show's narrow audience - children 6 to 8 who are just learning to read - doesn't give sponsors the broad exposure they're seeking, said Amy Jordan, senior researcher on children and the media at the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg Public Policy Center.

Other programs, like "Clifford the Big Red Dog," have book series attached to them. But "Reading Rainbow" is the only one that introduces children to a wide range of literature, Jordan said.

"What Reading Rainbow' saw, before anybody else saw it, is that you can use this medium of television to get kids excited about reading," she said.

Over the past several years, Burton and his backers have been producing fewer "Reading Rainbow" episodes because money was short. This season, only four new shows were made. The production company has a $2 million annual budget, and no money to go forward, he said.

"We have pieced it together by hook or by crook every year," said Burton, who helped start the series so children, during summer months away from school, could retain what they had learned.

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting has contributed to the show in the past. But it generally doesn't foot the bill alone, said John Wilson, chief programming executive at PBS. PBS wants to keep the show alive, and will have the summer to hunt for more money before a decision must be made.

"It's difficult to get them all funded," Wilson said. "That is the state of kids programming right now."

Burton, who portrayed Kunta Kinte in the television series "Roots," admits there have been times in the past few months when he thought the money problems were a sign to call it quits. Then he'd have an experience like he had recently when speaking to students at his alma mater, the University of Southern California. They spontaneously serenaded him with the "Reading Rainbow" theme.

"It is clear we have had an impact," Burton said. "Not a day goes by where someone doesn't come up to me and mention how important the show has been for their children or themselves in terms of encouraging them to read."
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Old 06-05-03, 10:47 PM
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When reading the thread title I was thinking "Man, Tim Burton will completely perverse Reading Rainbow"

On a more serious note I hope that Reading Rainbow lasts for a while. Sad that its being tossed aside because theres no marketability.
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Old 06-06-03, 12:21 AM
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I love how -INTRODUCING CHILDREN TO THE WORLD OF READING AND IMAGINATION- isn't "marketable" yet FEAR FACTOR and SURVIVOR ISLAND go on and on.


We need to get our act together...

Last edited by Giantrobo; 06-06-03 at 12:24 AM.
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Old 06-06-03, 07:23 AM
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Originally posted by Giantrobo
I love how -INTRODUCING CHILDREN TO THE WORLD OF READING AND IMAGINATION- isn't "marketable" yet FEAR FACTOR and SURVIVOR ISLAND go on and on.


We need to get our act together...
Have you contributed to your PBS affiliate?
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Old 06-06-03, 11:49 AM
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No, because they misappropriate their funds here.

Seattle Weekly -
AS PUBLIC KCTS-TV struggles to get back on its feet after years of financial mismanagement, a major provider of money has discovered some of the most damaging information yet. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which pledged $11 million to the station for a conversion to digital technology, says KCTS misappropriated $2.1 million. Channel 9 used the money in large part to pay a debt to the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), according to the foundation and KCTS. The station first revealed this in a report to the foundation a couple of weeks ago.
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Old 06-06-03, 12:26 PM
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I thought the whole point of PBS is that they didn't have to concern themselves with what is "marketable". (And, yes, I do contribute the WGBH annually.)

I guess I'm living in a dream world. If PBS is simply going to become a glorified A&E mixed with Nick (and some would claim we're already there), it's time to start rethinking my donations.
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Old 06-06-03, 12:57 PM
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Shouldn't the flood of Elmo crap generate enough revenue to keep smaller shows like Reading Rainbow on the air?
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Old 06-06-03, 01:31 PM
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The article mentions that the Corp. for Public Broadcasting has given them money, but apparently, not a whole lot considering Reading Rainbow has a tiny $2 million budget, and was only able to produce 4 episodes.
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Old 06-06-03, 04:51 PM
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PBS hasn't been good since more then 30 channels have been avalible. It used to work because it could have stuff no other channel would want to show (for example, stuff like Are You Being Served was show in prime time, but other tv stations here bought it to show at 3am! because it was cheap and they wanted filler!)

I don't know if you have one in the US, but here we have a channel that's all kids shows, with no commercials. Reading Rainbow would be good on that.
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Old 06-06-03, 05:16 PM
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Originally posted by Numanoid
Have you contributed to your PBS affiliate?
Uhm YES in the past.

Of late, I'm not sure I like what they do with the money.

I've subscribed to PBS numerous times over the years thank you very much.

My Father and I did it the 1st time when we saw COSMOS years ago
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Old 06-06-03, 05:19 PM
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Originally posted by BizRodian
PBS hasn't been good since more then 30 channels have been avalible. It used to work because it could have stuff no other channel would want to show (for example, stuff like Are You Being Served was show in prime time, but other tv stations here bought it to show at 3am! because it was cheap and they wanted filler!)

I don't know if you have one in the US, but here we have a channel that's all kids shows, with no commercials. Reading Rainbow would be good on that.

And let us not forget the best "filler show" of all.

www.classicartsshowcase.org
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Old 06-06-03, 10:31 PM
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There's nothing wrong with shows like that, I like quite a few of them... but things like Discovery Channel or BBC do it better... yes, there are commercials, but there's also so much more as well. I haven't whillingly tuned out of PBS, but I just realised I haven't watched it in months.
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Old 06-09-03, 08:40 AM
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If I had the money, I'd donate. I watched the show all the time. Maybe they should move the show to Discovery Channel, Nick Kids or whatever. It was a great show and continue.....

........but don't take my word for it.
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Old 06-09-03, 08:42 AM
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Da do - daa!
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Old 06-09-03, 08:50 AM
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Even if the show is cancelled, Burton will have the lasting legacy of the many young boys who stole their sister's headbands to wear over their eyes.
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Old 06-09-03, 12:41 PM
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Originally posted by Groucho
Even if the show is cancelled, Burton will have the lasting legacy of the many young boys who stole their sister's headbands to wear over their eyes.


I remember the episode where Lavar "sold out": The episode was about Star Trek:The Next Generation behind the scenes. I guess he figured he could kill two birds with one stone .
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Old 06-09-03, 12:47 PM
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Originally posted by Brain Stew
I remember the episode where Lavar "sold out": The episode was about Star Trek:The Next Generation behind the scenes. I guess he figured he could kill two birds with one stone .
My younger sisters watched the show, and I remember seeing that episode! I asked them "What the **** does this have to do with reading?" They had no idea, and admitted that most of the shows had little or nothing to do with actually getting kids to read.
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Old 06-09-03, 01:10 PM
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Originally posted by Groucho
most of the shows had little or nothing to do with actually getting kids to read.
Hardly a true statement. Most shows had a central theme, which was tied together with several books on the subject.
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Old 06-09-03, 01:15 PM
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This will be a sad loss if it goes.....my four year old loves to watch the show for the stories....it's a great show and should be funded long before 90% of the crap on tv is.....
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Old 06-09-03, 01:43 PM
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Originally posted by Jason
the flood of Elmo crap
Now there's a mental image I won't be able to shake for a while...
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