(San Francisco, CA) — Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney (Taxi to the Dark Side, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room) presents his take on the gap between rich and poor Americans in Park Avenue: Money, Power & the American Dream. Gibney contends that America’s richest citizens have “rigged the game in their favor,” and created unprecedented inequality in the United States. Park Avenue: Money, Power & the American Dream premieres on Independent Lens, hosted by Stanley Tucci, on Monday, November 12, 2012, at 10pm on PBS (check local listings).
Nowhere, Gibney asserts, is this more evident than on Park Avenue in New York. 740 Park in Manhattan is currently home to the highest concentration of billionaires in the country. Across the river, less than five miles away, Park Avenue runs through the South Bronx, home to the poorest congressional district in the United States.
In Park Avenue: Money, Power & the American Dream, Gibney states that while income disparity has always existed in the U.S., it has accelerated sharply over the last 40 years. As of 2010, the 400 richest Americans controlled more wealth than the bottom 50 percent of the populace, some 150 million people. In the film, Gibney explains why he believes upward mobility is increasingly out of reach for the poor.
Park Avenue: Money, Power & the American Dream is part of the international WHY POVERTY? project, a groundbreaking cross-media event reaching more than 500 million people around the world via over 60 international television broadcasters as well as radio, Internet, and live events in November 2012. A second WHY POVERTY? film, Solar Mamas, will premiere on Independent Lens on Monday, November 5, 2012.
For more information on WHY POVERTY? visit www.whypoverty.net. To learn more about the film, visit the Park Avenue: Money, Power & the American Dream interactive companion website (http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/park-avenue/), which features detailed information on the film, including an interview with the filmmaker, and links and resources pertaining to the film’s subject matter. The site also features a Talkback section where viewers can share their ideas and opinions, preview clips of the film, and more.
Participants (in order of appearance):
Paul Piff is a research scientist and Ph.D. candidate in psychology at U.C. Berkeley and lead author of a new study on the behavior of wealthy individuals published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Anne Rueth is a social worker at the Children’s Aid Society in the South Bronx.
Colin Dunkley is a pastor at the Divine Ministry of Light in the South Bronx, and has helped manage the Divine Ministry of Light's food pantry for 15 years.
April Dunkley supervises the Ministry's food pantry.
Timothy Noah is a senior editor at the New Republic. For twelve years he was a senior writer at Slate. He received the 2011 Hillman Prize for a ten-part Slate series on income inequality in the U.S. that he subsequently expanded into his 2012 book, The Great Divergence: America's Growing Inequality Crisis and What We Can Do About It.
Jeffrey D. Sachs is a world-renowned professor of economics, leader in sustainable development, senior UN advisor, bestselling author, and syndicated columnist, whose monthly newspaper columns appear in more than 80 countries. He has twice been named among Time Magazine's 100 most influential world leaders.
Michael Gross is the author of eleven books, including the best-selling 740 Park: The Story of the World’s Richest Apartment Building.
Anonymous Doorman worked at 740 Park Avenue for two years, but is now employed at a different elite Manhattan apartment building.
Jacob S. Hacker is the co -author of Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer—and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class. Hacker is the Stanley B. Resor professor of Political Science at Yale University.
Jack Abramoff is a former lobbyist convicted of defrauding American Indian tribes and corrupting public officials. He was later convicted of trading gifts in exchange for political favors. Since his release from prison he has been an outspoken critic of the lobbying industry.
Robert G. Kaiser is an associate editor and senior correspondent for The Washington Post.
Jane Mayer is an American investigative journalist who has been a staff writer for The New Yorker since 1995. Based in Washington, D.C., she writes about politics for the magazine, and has been covering the War on Terror.
Tim Phillips is president of Americans for Prosperity and Americans for Prosperity Foundation. Phillips is a veteran political strategist and one of the nation’s premier grassroots organizers. He has 25 years of experience, which includes presidential, gubernatorial, and congressional races, as well as state legislative, local, and issue-advocacy campaigns.
Bruce Bartlett worked in the administrations of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Since then he has been an economic commentator for The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, The New York Times, and other major publications. His newest book, The Benefit and the Burden, explores the tax crisis faced by the U.S. and the reforms he believes are needed to solve it.
Timothy Smeeding is the Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor of Public Affairs and Economics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Director of the Institute for Research on Poverty (IRP).
Karen Tredwell is the executive director of the Food Pantry of Waukesha County, Wisconsin. She has held the position for 15 years.
Melissa is a resident of New Berlin, Wisconsin and a Food Pantry client.
Jennifer is a resident of Waukesha, Wisconsin and a Food Pantry client.
About the Filmmakers
Alex Gibney (Director) is the winner of the 2008 Academy Award® for Best Documentary for Taxi to the Dark Side. Before that, Gibney wrote, produced, and directed the 2006 Oscar®-nominated film, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, which received the Independent Spirit Award and the WGA Award. His most recent films as director include: Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer; Magic Trip; The Last Gladiators; and Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God, a story of sex abuse in the Catholic church. He is currently editing an untitled project on WikiLeaks and Julian Assange for Universal Pictures.
Blair Foster (Producer) is an independent producer who won two Emmys® for her work on the Academy Award® winning film, Taxi to the Dark Side, as well as an Emmy® as supervising producer for Martin Scorsese’s documentary, George Harrison: Living in the Material World. She is a consulting producer for Alex Gibney’s untitled Wikileaks documentary and executive producer of Allison Elwood’s untitled documentary about The Eagles. Past projects include NOW with Bill Moyers on the episode “Going Undercover,” and The Perilous Fight: America’s Second World War in Color Episode 2 and 3. Foster attended graduate school for history and has a master's degree in documentary film from Stanford University.
About Independent Lens
Independent Lens is an Emmy® Award winning weekly series airing on PBS. The acclaimed anthology series features documentaries united by the creative freedom, artistic achievement and unflinching visions of independent filmmakers. Presented by Independent Television Service (ITVS), the series is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), a private corporation funded by the American people, with additional funding provided by PBS, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the MacArthur Foundation. The senior series producer is Lois Vossen. More information at www.pbs.org/independentlens.
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