(San Francisco, CA)—Who would think a documentary about the collapse of a mammoth corporation could play out like a drama with the emotional power of Greek tragedy? But that is the impact of ENRON: The Smartest Guys in the Room, the inside story of one of history’s greatest business scandals, in which top executives of America’s 7th largest company walked away with over one billion dollars while investors and employees lost everything.
The television premiere of the Oscar-nominated film, ENRON: The Smartest Guys in the Room, features a newly filmed conversation with Alex Gibney and authors and Fortune reporters, Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind reflecting on the events that have occurred since the film was completed. ENRON will have its television premiere on the Emmy® Award-winning PBS series Independent Lens, hosted by Terrence Howard, on Tuesday, April 24 at 10pm (check local listings).
Based on the best-selling book The Smartest Guys in the Room by McLean and Elkind and featuring insider accounts and incendiary corporate audio and videotapes, filmmaker Alex Gibney reveals the almost unimaginable personal excesses of the Enron hierarchy and the utter moral vacuum that posed as corporate philosophy.
The film comes to a harrowing dénouement as we hear Enron traders’ own voices as they wring hundreds of millions of dollars in profits out of the California energy crisis. As a result, we come to understand how the avarice of Enron’s traders and their bosses had a shocking and profound domino effect that may shape the face of our economy for years to come. Says Gibney: “Through Bethany and Peter’s writing I saw that the story of Enron was more than a corporate scandal. I felt that the film would give me an opportunity to explore some larger themes about American culture, the cruelty of our economic system, and the way it can be too easily rigged for the benefit of the high and mighty.”
The ENRON: The Smartest Guys in the Room companion website (pbs.org/enron) 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 for viewers to share their ideas and opinions, preview clips of the film and more.
About the Filmmaker
Alex Gibney (Director)
An Emmy® Award-winning writer, producer and director, Alex Gibney recently completed Taxi to the Dark Side, a feature documentary about the war on terror that premieres at the Tribeca film Festival this year. In addition to Enron, Gibney recently produced Herbie Hancock: Possibilities, a film about the jazz legend’s collaboration with musical talents such as Santana, Sting and Christina Aguilera. As a director, he is also in post-production on Gonzo: the life and Times of Hunter S. Thompson. Having recently finished writing and producing The Human Behavior Experiments for the Sundance Channel, Gibney has begun pre-production on Burning Down the House, a feature documentary on political corruption for Participant Productions and Magnolia Pictures. Recently, he also served as executive producer for No End In Sight, a documentary by Charles Ferguson that won the Special Jury Prize at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival. Gibney produced Lightning in a Bottle a film directed by Antoine Fuqua, which premiered in 2004 at the Berlin Film Festival and which was released by Sony Classics last October. In 2003, Gibney served as the series producer for The Blues, an Emmy-nominated series of seven films in association with executive producer Martin Scorsese. The directors for The Blues were: Charles Burnett, Clint Eastwood, Mike Figgis, Marc Levin, Richard Pearce, Martin Scorsese and Wim Wenders. Gibney also produced The Soul of a Man, Wim Wenders’ entry in that series (also an official selection at the Cannes Film Festival), and was awarded a Grammy for producing the 5-CD box set based on the series.
His recent credits include the theatrical documentary for the BBC and First Run Features The Trials of Henry Kissinger (writer/producer); Jimi Hendrix and the Blues (director/producer); the HBO documentary, Soldiers in the Army of God, (senior producer), about the radical fringe of the anti-abortion movement; Speak Truth to Power (producer), a PBS special about human rights defenders starring Alec Baldwin, Sigourney Weaver, John Malkovich and Kevin Kline; Brooklyn Babylon, (executive producer) a feature film directed by Marc Levin and featuring the Grammy Award-winning, hip-hop group The Roots; The Huntress (executive producer) a TV movie written by Bruno Heller (HBO’s Rome) and, subsequently, a TV series for the USA Network; Sexual Century, (writer, director, series producer), a six-part documentary series for ITV and the CBC; The Fifties (writer/director/producer), an 8-hour documentary mini-series based on the best-selling book by Pulitzer Prize-winning author David Halberstam; and The Pacific Century (writer/director/producer), a 10-hour documentary series that was honored with an Emmy, two Emmy nominations and the prestigious DuPont-Columbia Award for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism. His work has also appeared on the Emmy and Peabody Award-winning series ESPN’s Sports Century, and the Emmy® Award-winning series Frontline, for PBS. A member of WGA and DGA, Gibney is a graduate of Yale University (B.A.), and also attended the UCLA Graduate School of Film and Television.
About Independent Lens
Independent Lens is an Emmy® Award-winning weekly series airing Tuesday nights at 10pm on PBS. Hosted this season by Terrence Howard, 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. Presented by ITVS, the series is supported by interactive companion websites, and national publicity and community engagement campaigns. Further information about the series is available at pbs.org/independentlens. 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 and the National Endowment for the Arts. The series producer is Lois Vossen.
The Independent Television Service (ITVS) funds and presents award-winning documentaries and dramas on public television, innovative new media projects on the Web and the Emmy® Award-winning weekly series Independent Lens on Tuesday nights at 10pm 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. More information about ITVS can be obtained by visiting itvs.org. ITVS is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people.
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