PBS announced today that American actor, producer, director and screenwriter Liev Schreiber (“X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” Showtime’s “Ray Donovan”) will be the on-camera host for the upcoming series SUPERHEROES: A NEVER-ENDING BATTLE, which premieres October 8, 2013 at 9:00 p.m. ET.
Schreiber also narrates the series, which is the subject of a panel this week at Comic-Con® International: San Diego. Attendees will get a sneak peek at the groundbreaking series and hear a discussion on the documentary with panelists, including Emmy-winning filmmaker Michael Kantor (MAKE ‘EM LAUGH: THE FUNNY BUSINESS OF AMERICA; BROADWAY: THE AMERICAN MUSICAL) and series co-writer Laurence Maslon, along with acclaimed comic book writer Gerry Conway (co-creator of the Punisher, and writer of the landmark “Death of Gwen Stacy” Spider-Man story), and Eisner Award-winning writer Mark Waid (renowned for Kingdom Come and his run on The Flash).
Heralded as “the finest American theater actor of his generation” by The New York Times, Liev Schreiber has earned critical praise for his work in film, theater and television. He currently stars in Showtime’s new hit series “Ray Donovan.” In addition to his role in “X-Men Origins,” Schreiber’s feature credits include “Salt” with Angelina Jolie; “Defiance” with Daniel Craig; “The Manchurian Candidate”; and Wes Craven’s “Scream” trilogy, among many others.
SUPERHEROES: A NEVER-ENDING BATTLE is the first documentary to examine the dawn of the comic book genre and its powerful legacy, as well as the evolution of the characters who leapt from the pages over the last 75 years and their ongoing worldwide cultural impact. It chronicles how these “disposable diversions” were subject to intense government scrutiny for their influence on American children and how they were created in large part by the children of immigrants whose fierce loyalty to a new homeland laid the foundation for a multi-billion-dollar industry that is an influential part of our national identity. Among the notable on-camera talents in the film are Stan Lee, Adam West, Lynda Carter, Pulitzer Prize winners Michael Chabon and Jules Feiffer, and interviews with the late greats Joe Simon (co-creator of Captain America) and Jerry Robinson (who helped create the Joker).
“A show about superheroes needs a superhuman force to lead it; Liev Schreiber was perfectly cast as Sabretooth in ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine,’ and he is the perfect host for this series,” said Michael Kantor, filmmaker behind SUPERHEROES: A NEVER-ENDING BATTLE and president of Ghost Light Films. “Liev’s commanding presence takes us through 75 years of heroes and villains –both in print and in real-life– as well as the multifaceted, multimedia industry whose characters continue to enthrall Americans and fans all over the world. We promise that after watching this series, no parent will ever dare to throw away their kid’s comic books again…”
SUPERHEROES: A NEVER-ENDING BATTLE is not only one of the most comprehensive surveys of the vibrant comic book industry ever created, but the series explores cultural histories in an entertaining and educational way – just as PBS viewers have come to expect,” said Donald Thoms, Vice President, Programming and Talent Management for PBS. “No other broadcaster could tell this story on the small screen with as much depth, history and insight.”
The three episodes in SUPERHEROES are:
“Truth, Justice, and the American Way” (1938-1958) – October 8, 2013, 9:00 p.m. ET
During the Depression, the popularity of dozens of superhero characters opens the door for a new generation of artists and writers. World War II creates a patriotic fervor for star-spangled adventurers to represent the American spirit at war and on the home front, but in the 1950s, superheroes are caught in the fire of government scrutiny and regulation. When the thrilling “Adventures of Superman” is broadcast on the new medium of television, America’s first and greatest superhero leads the entire comic book industry to renewed strength.
“Great Power, Great Responsibility” (1959-1977) – October 15, 2013, 9:00 p.m. ET
A new breed of superhero emerges in the 1960s, inspired by the age of atomic energy and space travel and, in turn, inspiring artists of the time. The pop art movement draws heavily on comic books, with superhero images appearing in the works of Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. Civil rights in America and other social issues make their way onto the page as black superheroes emerge with powerhouses such as the Black Panther and Luke Cage. The pages of “Green Lantern/Green Arrow” address social issues in their relevant storylines, and comic books are forced to confront the reality of an increasingly complex world.
“A Hero Can Be Anyone” (1978-Present) – October 22, 2013, 9:00 p.m. ET
This episode captures the enthusiasm for superheroes as they are embraced in all forms of media and by all demographics, beginning with the historic “Superman” movie featuring Christopher Reeve as the Man of Steel. In 1986, Batman is overhauled as The Dark Knight to reflect the nocturnal underside of his character, and Watchmen brings new sophistication to comic book narratives, illuminating a violent and politicized world. In the burgeoning new millennium, superheroes have taken over popular culture with feature films, television shows and video games complementing a new generation of web-based comics that bring superhero adventures to every corner of the world.
Based on SUPERHEROES: A NEVER-ENDING BATTLE, a new book, Superheroes!: Capes, Cowls, and the Creation of Comic Book Culture by Laurence Maslon will be available on October 1, 2013 from Crown Archetype, a division of Random House. This stunning companion volume tells the story of the superhero in American pop culture, featuring interviews, character biographies, and over 500 illustrations both essential and rare.
PBS Distribution will release the DVD and Blu-ray version of SUPERHEROES: A NEVER-ENDING BATTLE on October 15, coinciding with the airing of the series on PBS. The DVD will be available for a suggested retail price of $24.99 and the Blu-ray will be available for a suggested retail price of $29.99. The running time is 180 minutes and will include special extra features. The DVD and Blu-ray will also include subtitles in English.
SUPERHEROES: A NEVER-ENDING BATTLE is produced by Ghost Light Films in association with Oregon Public Broadcasting. Along with PBS, major funding for the series was supplied by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Founded in 1996, Ghost Light Films created the critically acclaimed and Emmy-nominated six-part PBS series MAKE ‘EM LAUGH: THE FUNNY BUSINESS OF AMERICA, which was hosted by Billy Crystal and produced by Thirteen/WNET New York, in association with BBC-TV. In 2005, Ghost Light Films produced three hours of documentary material to accompany the 40th anniversary re-release of the film The Sound of Music, including a documentary hosted by Julie Andrews. That same year, Ghost Light garnered the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Nonfiction series for BROADWAY: THE AMERICAN MUSICAL with Thirteen/WNET New York, NHK Japan and BBC in association with Carlton International. Most recently Ghost Light created BROADWAY MUSICALS: A JEWISH LEGACY (narrated by Joel Grey) for the GREAT PERFORMANCES series on PBS. www.ghostlightfilms.net
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