Terrence Howard to Host Fifth Season of PBS’S Emmy Award-Winning Series Independent Lens

Nine month-long anthology series of independent film begins October 24 with season premiere THE WORLD ACCORDING TO SESAME STREET

(San Francisco)—Independent Lens announced today that Terrence Howard, Academy Award® nominee for his dramatic performance in Hustle & Flow, will be the host of the 2006-2007 season. Celebrating its fifth anniversary this fall, the critically acclaimed PBS series will kick off the season with THE WORLD ACCORDING TO SESAME STREET on Tuesday, October 24th at 9 PM (check local listings). 

“As the series producer of Independent Lens, I am so pleased to announce this year’s host as Terrence Howard. Independent Lens has had some great hosts over the years including Edie Falco, Angela Bassett, Don Cheadle and Susan Sarandon, Howard makes an excellent addition to this group of independent supporters," said Lois Vossen. “Terrence Howard lights up the screen with his incredible talent as an actor and trained musician. He has demonstrated his commitment to the craft of acting and especially to the unique endeavors of independent filmmaking. He is the perfect host of the new Independent Lens season and we are honored to be working with him.” 

“I am so thrilled to be the host of Independent Lens this season. I'm a passionate believer in the power of independent filmmaking to take us to places we never thought we’d see, and to connect us to people we would likely never know,” said host Terrence Howard. “In this season alone, our filmmakers take us from Ethiopia to Cuba to small-town USA, with portraits of people as diverse as the jazz genius Billy Strayhorn, the people behind the Enron scandal, and a man who saves a flock of wild parrots—even teenage beauty queens who can skin muskrats for their talent competition. I hope everyone will join us for the amazing season ahead.” 

THE WORLD ACCORDING TO SESAME STREET explores the drama, challenges and complexities behind producing international versions of the world's most-watched children's television program. Produced and directed by Linda Goldstein Knowlton and Linda Hawkins Costigan with Participant Productions (Good Night and Good Luck, An Inconvenient Truth). 

Closing out October is MUSKRAT LOVELY (10/31) a quirky film that draws comparison to any Christopher Guest film. The show follows contestants in Golden Hill, Maryland as they compete in the National Outdoor Show. Local high school girls compete to become “Miss Outdoors.” And on the same stage, the world’s best muskrat skinners compete to see who can skin the fastest. 

This season, Independent Lens will present several months that explore common themes, offering a variety of perspectives on art, music, the media, international affairs and more. 

November will focus on “Politics and Journalism in America and Beyond,” with PAUL CONRAD: Drawing Fire (11/7), a tribute to the legendary political cartoonist who has “drawn and quartered” eleven American presidents from Harry S. Truman to George W. Bush; DEMOCRACY ON DEADLINE: The Global Struggle for an Independent Press (11/21), on battles the free press faces to bring us the news in countries ranging from Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Mexico, Russia, Israel, and yes, the United States; and TWO SQUARE MILES (11/28), which tracks the colorful residents of small-town Hudson, New York, as they exercise their rights as citizens within their local government over environmental concerns and the growth of big business. 

November will also offer an encore presentation of the Emmy-nominated film that struck a chord with viewers last season, A TOUCH OF GREATNESS. A portrait of the lives transformed by a maverick teacher who enabled children to embrace their own inner greatness and taught a curriculum of Shakespeare, Sophocles and Shaw to his fifth grade classroom. 

December will bring two films about artists and writers. A SAD FLOWER IN THE SAND (12/5) profiles author John Fante, whose 1939 novel Ask the Dust has been praised by writers ranging from Charles Bukowski to screenwriter Robert Towne (Chinatown). REVOLUCION: Five Visions (12/19) profiles five Cuban photographers whose lives and work span more than four decades and whose perspectives on photography are as varied as their opinions about the Cuban Revolution. 

And Independent Lens will air another installment of the popular December short showcase. SHORT STACK (12/26), features the winners of the first ever Independent Lens online shorts festival and a collection of other fun independent short films. 

Other highlights of the upcoming season include three films about globalization during April’s “Follow the Money: Unfair Trade?” series: CHINA BLUE, about Chinese garment workers, whose endless sweat shop days enable the rest of the world to wear inexpensive blue jeans; A FISH STORY explores the dilemma of over fishing in New England, from both the environmental and the fishing community’s points of view; and BLACK GOLD—which takes a look at the second most valuable trading commodity in the world after oil: coffee. The film focuses on Ethiopian coffee farmers, who get a pittance for their back-breaking labor. Meanwhile, coffee drinkers worldwide slurp down $5 lattes with little heed for those who produce the crop. 

The series will continue its tradition of music documentaries, this year featuring HIP HOP: Beyond Beats and Rhymes, which takes an in-depth look at machismo in rap music and hip-hop culture, where creative genius, poetic beauty and mad beats collide with misogyny, violence and homophobia; BILLY STRAYHORN: LUSH LIFE, about the fascinating and complex decades-long relationship between Duke Ellington and his brilliant composer, Billy Strayhorn. 

Independent Lens will also premiere ENRON: The Smartest Guys in the Room, the story behind the infamous Enron scandal; TWISTED, an autobiographical exploration of captivating characters that refuse to allow their diagnoses of dystonia (a mysterious neurological disorder that contorts the body into abnormal, often painful postures) stop them from living full lives; KNOCKING, a look at the surprising ways Jehovah’s witnesses have impacted American society through their fights for freedom of speech and other civil liberties. The season will conclude with the beloved WILD PARROTS OF TELEGRAPH HILL, the phenomenally successful film about a flock of wild parrots and the bohemian St. Francis who loves them. 


October 24 at 9 PM THE WORLD ACCORDING TO SESAME STREET Linda Goldstein Knowlton and Linda Hawkins Costigan with an Encore Presentation of STILL LIFE WITH ANIMATED DOGS (Paul Fierlinger) 

October 31 at 10 PM MUSKRAT LOVELY By Amy Nicholson 

November 7 at 10 PM PAUL CONRAD: Drawing Fire By Barbara Multer-Wellin and Jeffrey Abelson 

November 14 at 10 PM Encore Presentation of A TOUCH OF GREATNESS By Leslie Sullivan 

November 21 at 10 PM DEMOCRACY ON DEADLINE: The Global Struggle for an Independent Press By Calvin Skaggs 

November 28 at 10 PM TWO SQUARE MILES By Barbara Ettinger and Sven Huseby. 

December 12 at 10 PM A SAD FLOWER IN THE SAND By Jan Louter 

December 19 at 10 PM REVOLUCION: Five Visions By Nicole Cattell 

December 26 at 10 PM SHORT STACK Independent Lens online shorts festival winners: TBA 


Crowned as the “Indie Film King” by Entertainment Weekly, Terrence Howard exploded onto the Hollywood scene this year after delivering strong performances in a number of film and TV productions including Hustle & Flow and Crash. This year alone he has multiple nominations including an Academy Award and Golden Globe, and has received awards for Breakthrough Actor by the National Board of Review, Movieline and Gotham Awards. He has also received the Rising Star Award from the Palm Springs International Film Festival, the Renaissance Artist Award from the Diversity Awards and the Career Achievement Award from the Chicago International Film Festival. Called Sundance’s “newest golden boy” by New York Magazine after a record-breaking year at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival, Terrence served as a drama juror at the 2006 festival. 

Terrence has recently wrapped production on Pride, in which he stars as swim coach Jim Ellis, which also stars Bernie Mac. This summer, he is filming the Warner Brother’s thriller The Brave One, in which he stars opposite Jodie Foster and will follow that up with Spring Break in Bosnia with Richard Gere and Jesse Eisenberg. He will next be seen in Universal’s Idlewild, August Rush with Robin Williams and Freddie Highmore and The Weinstein Company’s Awake with Jessica Alba and Hayden Christensen. 

Keeping a powerful presence on the small screen as well, Howard was seen in the critically acclaimed HBO film Lackawanna Blues based on Tony Award-winning Ruben Santiago-Hudson’s autobiographical play and directed by George C. Wolfe. The cast, which includes Jeffrey Wright and S. Epatha Merkerson was nominated for an NAACP Image Award. 


Lois Vossen is the Independent Lens founding producer. In its first season, the series won an Emmy Award for “Best Documentary” and was nominated for a “Best Documentary” Academy Award. In its second season, it was again nominated for two “Best Documentary” Emmy Awards, and continued that run with a third consecutive year. Vossen was director of broadcast distribution & communications at Independent Television Service (ITVS) for seven years and directed the presentation of more than 250 documentaries and dramas on public television before taking the helm of Independent Lens. Prior to ITVS, Vossen was associate managing director of the Sundance Institute, lab manager of the renowned Sundance Labs, and programmed the Sundance Cinematheque at Robert Redford’s Sundance Resort. She also worked with director Philip Kaufman on the documentary Wild East (Turner Broadcasting). 


The Independent Television Service (ITVS) celebrates its 15th Anniversary in 2006. ITVS is a leading funder and presenter of award-winning documentaries and dramas on public television, innovative new media projects on the Web, and the Emmy Award-winning weekly series Independent Lens

Airing Tuesday nights at 10 PM on PBS, Independent Lens is a film festival in your living room. Hosted each week by independent film actor, 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 independent producers. 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. 


PBS, headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia, is a private, nonprofit media enterprise owned and operated by the nation's 349 public television stations. Serving nearly 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 www.pbs.org, the leading dot-org Web site on the Internet. 

CONTACT Mary Lugo: 770/623-8190, lugo@negia.net Cara White: 843/881-1480, cara.white@mac.com Randall Cole: 415/356-8383 x254, randall_cole@itvs.org 

For more information and/or downloadable images, visit: www.itvs.org/pressroom/Independent Lens website: www.pbs.org/independentlens

Posted on August 21, 2006