Comedy’s Groundbreakers: CPTV To Add Hilarity to History with Special Programming

Release Date: 03/16/2009

HARTFORD, Conn.–  History’s heroes don’t have to be modern major-generals or chin-scratching thinkers – the push to reform can come from unexpected quarters. On Wednesday, March 18, Connecticut Public Television (CPTV, www.cptv.org) sheds light on some of these engines of cultural progress with special programming beginning at 8 p.m. From the silver screen to the Broadway big-time to the printed page, CPTV invites viewers to learn the stories behind the laughter.

The night opens with a look at modern comedy’s embryonic beginnings in “Pioneers of Primetime,” at 8 p.m. Blending never-before-seen interviews and a treasure trove of rare clips, this program chronicles television comedy's long-forgotten pedigree - from vaudeville through radio to the golden age of television. Milton Berle, Sid Caesar, Red Skelton, Bob Hope and many others provide fascinating firsthand accounts of what it was like to launch an entirely new medium.

Then, witness one of the most influential women in comedy in “Carol Burnett: A Woman of Character,” airing at 9 p.m. By brilliantly playing with stereotypes of glamorous women, dumb broads and goofy girls, Burnett smashed some of the most limiting female images and created an empowering new one: the woman who is as feminine and likable as she is talented and powerful, and whose message isn’t any more radical than a simple invitation to laugh. Audience questions – and Burnett’s hilarious responses – along with interviews with those who knew her best reveal the personal side of the public personae.

Finally, CPTV showcases an ink-and-paper inspiration with “Erma Bombeck: A Legacy of Laughter” at 10:30 p.m. One of America’s best-loved humorists, Bombeck was a renaissance woman with a unique perspective on life. This program talks with her friends, family and colleagues to paint a loving picture of the author, lecturer, television producer, ERA supporter, wife and mother. Family friend Phil Donahue narrates this tale of a woman whose tales of domestic life gave voice to millions of homemakers and left an indelible mark on American culture.

Airdates and Times

Pioneers of Primetime
Airs Wednesday, March 18 at 8 p.m.

American Masters: Carol Burnett: A Woman of Characters
Airs Wednesday, March 18 at 9 p.m.
Repeats Friday, March 20 at 10:30 p.m. and Sunday, March 22 at 2 p.m.

Erma Bombeck: A Legacy of Laughter
Airs Wednesday, March 18 at 10:30 p.m.
Repeats Saturday, March 21 at 10:30 p.m. and Sunday, March 22 at 3:30 p.m.

About Connecticut Public Television
CPTV is a media service of the Connecticut Public Broadcasting Network (CPBN, www.cpbn.org). It is a locally and nationally recognized producer and presenter of quality public television programming, including UConn Women's Basketball, original documentaries and educational programming. CPTV has built a reputation as a leader in children’s programming, including playing an historic role in bringing Barney & Friends™, Bob the Builder™ and Thomas & Friends™ to public television. The station offers 11 hours of positive, nurturing children’s programs each weekday, reaching 50,000 to 70,000 households daily. The Connecticut Public Broadcasting Network also includes WNPR, an affiliate of National Public Radio, Public Radio International and American Public Media. WNPR serves over 200,000 listeners in Connecticut, New York and Rhode Island with news and information. Its award-winning local programming includes The Faith Middleton Show and On the Record. Overall, the network brings a broad spectrum of public affairs, entertainment, sports and educational programming to viewers, listeners and readers. For more information, visit www.cptv.org and / or www.wnpr.org.
 

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