Don Cheadle to Host Second Season of Independent Lens

New Expanded Season Kicks off October 14, 2003

For Immediate Release 

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(San Francisco, CA)-- The Independent Television Service (ITVS) announced today that acclaimed actor/director Don Cheadle, a passionate champion of independent filmmaking, will be the on-air host of the series' most ambitious season to date. Premiering on Tuesday, October 14th, the Fall 2003/Spring 2004 season will consist of 29 original nights of independent programming, again focusing on documentaries but now including independent drama, comedy and shorts. The re-invented, primetime version of Independent Lens premiered in February 2003 to critical and audience acclaim; Electronic Media called the series "entertaining as hell.” The series airs weekly on Tuesdays at 10 P.M. (check local listings). 

Says Cheadle, whose many credits include Traffic, Ocean's Eleven, and The Rat Pack (for which he won a Golden Globe), "I'm a passionate believer in the power of independent filmmaking — filmmaking that truly represents the totality of who we are in this country. Now more than ever, with people being intimidated against speaking out and with huge conglomerates controlling more and more of what we see and hear, people deserve the chance to see these kinds of films. And the great thing about Independent Lens is anybody with a TV, from Maine to Alabama or wherever you happen to live, can go on the incredible journey where these films take you.” 

"Don Cheadle's commitment to independent film and quality television makes him a natural host for the series,” says ITVS president and series executive producer, Sally Jo Fifer. "We are very grateful he made time in his schedule to present the next season of Independent Lens. 

Cheadle will make his feature film directorial debut this summer, with an adaptation of Elmore Leonard's TISHOMINGO BLUES. The Fall 2003 Independent Lens lineup will be announced separately. 


Since being named Best Supporting Actor by the Los Angeles Film Critics for his breakout performance opposite Denzel Washington in Devil in a Blue Dress, Don Cheadle has consistently turned in powerful performances on the stage and screen. Cheadle has starred in such major motion pictures as the Academy Award-winning Traffic from USA Films and the Warner Bros. hit Ocean's Eleven, opposite George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon. In both films, Cheadle worked with director Steven Soderbergh, with whom he first collaborated on the Universal film Out of Sight. In this adaptation of the Elmore Leonard novel, Cheadle starred alongside George Clooney, Jennifer Lopez and Ving Rhames. 

Cheadle's additional film credits include Boogie Nights— the breakout feature by director Paul Thomas Anderson — in which he played the memorable "Buck,” the porn star constantly reinventing himself. He has also starred in Volcano opposite Tommy Lee Jones; the John Singleton-directed Rosewood (for which he also received an N.A.A.C.P. Image Award nomination); Swordfish with John Travolta and Hallie Berry; Touchstone Pictures' Mission to Mars opposite Gary Sinise and Tim Robbins; and Fox's Warren Beatty-directed Bulworth. Cheadle also delivered a memorable comedic cameo as a guardian angel in Universal Pictures' Family Man opposite Nicholas Cage and Tea Leoni. 

Cheadle has also embraced independent features, working on such projects as the all-digital Manic, by director Jordan Melamed, and the Showtime feature Things Behind the Sun, directed by Allison Anders — a performance which garnered Cheadle an Emmy nomination. Both films premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2001. Cheadle recently shot an independent feature for Kevin Spacey's Trigger Street Productions called The United States of Leland, in which he stars opposite Spacey and Ryan Gosling. 

Cheadle is also well-recognized for his television work. He received a Golden Globe Award for his remarkable portrayal of Sammy Davis Jr. in HBO's The Rat Pack, a performance which was also nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Emmy. That same year, he received a Lead Actor Emmy nomination for his starring role in HBO's adaptation of the critically acclaimed, best-selling novel A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines, in which Cheadle starred opposite Cicely Tyson and Mekhi Phifer. He also starred for HBO in Rebound: The Legend of Earl "The Goat” Manigault, directed by Eriq La Salle. 

Well known for his two-year stint in the role of "District Attorney John Littleton” on David E. Kelley's critically-acclaimed series Picket Fences, Cheadle's other series credits include a series regular role on ER, The Golden Palace and recurring roles on The Bernie Mac Show and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Cheadle was also part of the stellar cast of the thrilling live CBS television broadcast of Fail Safe in which he starred opposite George Clooney, James Cromwell, Brian Dennehy, Richard Dreyfuss and Harvey Keitel. 

An accomplished stage actor, Cheadle originated the role of "Booth” in Suzan-Lori Parks' Pulitzer Prize-winning play Top Dog Underdog at New York's Public Theatre under the direction or George C. Wolfe. His other stage credits include Leon, Lena and Lenz at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis; The Grapes of Wrath and Liquid Skin at the Mixed Blood Theater in Minneapolis; Cymbeline at The New York Shakespeare Festival; ‘Tis A Pity She's a Whore at Chicago's Goodman Theater; and Athol Fugard's South African play Blood Knot at The Complex Theater in Hollywood. 

Born in Kansas City, Missouri, Cheadle later relocated to Lincoln, Nebraska and Denver, Colorado before he finally settled in Los Angeles. He attended the prestigious California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, California where he received his Bachelor's Degree in Fine Arts. With the encouragement of his college friends, Cheadle auditioned for a variety of film and television roles while attending school and landed a recurring role on the hit series Fame. This lead to feature film roles in Colors directed by Dennis Hopper, the John Irvin-directed Hamburger Hill, opposite Dylan McDermott, and Meteor Man directed by Robert Townsend. 

A talented musician who plays saxophone, writes music and sings, Don Cheadle is also an accomplished director with the stage productions of Cincinnati Man at the Attic Theater, the critically-acclaimed The Trip at Friends and Artists Theater in Hollywood and Three, True, One at the Electric Lodge in Venice, California on an already-impressive resume. 

Next up for Cheadle will be tackling the duties of big screen director as he prepares to helm his first feature film — the adaptation of the latest Elmore Leonard novel Tishomingo Blues. Cheadle resides in Los Angeles. 

About Independent Lens 

Independent Lens is a weekly series airing Tuesday nights at 10 P.M. on PBS. The acclaimed anthology series features documentaries and a limited number of fiction films united by the creative freedom, artistic achievement and unflinching visions of their independent producers. Independent Lens features unforgettable stories about a unique individual, community or moment in history, which prompted Nancy Franklin in The New Yorker to write "Watching Independent Lens ... is like going into an independent bookstore—you don't always find what you were looking for but you often find something you didn't even know you wanted.” Presented by ITVS, the series is supported by interactive companion websites, and national publicity and community outreach campaigns. Further information about the series is available at lens. Independent Lens is jointly curated by ITVS and PBS, and is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), a private corporation funded by the American people, with additional funding provided by PBS. 

About ITVS 

Independent Television Service (ITVS) funds and presents award-winning documentaries and dramas on public television, innovative new media projects on the Web and the weekly series Independent Lens on Tuesday nights at 10 P.M. on PBS. ITVS is a miracle of public policy created by media activists, citizens and politicians seeking to foster plurality and diversity in public television. ITVS was established by a historic mandate of Congress to champion independently produced programs that take creative risks, spark public dialogue and serve underserved audiences. Since its inception in 1991, ITVS programs have revitalized the relationship between the public and public television, bringing TV audiences face-to-face with the lives and concerns of their fellow Americans. ITVS is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people. More information about ITVS can be obtained by visiting ITVS is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American People. 

About PBS 

PBS, headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia, is a private, nonprofit media enterprise owned and operated by the nation's 350 public television stations. Serving over 90 million people each week, PBS enriches the lives of all Americans through quality programs and education services on noncommercial television, the Internet and other media. More information about PBS is available at, the leading dot-org website on the Internet.

Posted on June 12, 2003