tv Charlie Rose PBS November 18, 2013 12:00pm-1:01pm PST
terence winter. >> so if you here in the busines we here in which cable t.v. cannels, that been a good businessand aide by these on-deand technologies. cable on demand, d.v.r. and services like netflix if you here in that business, sfod services. those stocks are trading well and flourishing. we were talking about amazon and amazon prime. so at the moment the t.v. business is a good business and everything is pretty much working. >> rose: we conclude with henry louis gates, jr., his new pbs series is called "the african americans: many rivers to cross." >> and you think what gave our slave ancestors hope? they didn't know there would be
an emancipation proclamation. they didn't know there would be a civil war yet they built families. do you know that there were only 388,000 africans who were brought to the united states in the whole history of the slave trade. you know how many were brought to brazil? >> rose: how many? >> five million. the 42 million african americans today grew, that's what the phrase was, we're going to grow our own slaves out of this body of 388,000. so that means these people, despite the fact they were slaves, believed in the principles of democracy in this great republic. >> rose: a look at the golden age of television and a look at african american history when we continue.
captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios new york city, this is charlie ros >> you all know exactly who i am. say my name. >> do what? i don't -- i don't have a damn clue who the hell you are. >> yeah, you do. i'm the cook. i'm the man who killed gus fring. >> rose: television is entering what is called a new golden age. rich story telling and character development are bringing back audices and talent. some of hollywood's best are choosing the medium over film. technology is also channg how we experience our favorite
shows. mobile devices, video on demand and streaming have altered the economics of distribution. i am pleased to have an esteemed group join me now. josh sapan is the president of a.m.c. networks. the company's hits include "mad men" "breaking bad" and "the walking dead." terence winter is a writer for "boardwalk empire." he was also a writer and executive producer for "the sopranos emily nussbaum is a tevision critic for the "new yorker" magazine and david carr writes the media equation column for the "new york times." i'm pleased to have all of them here. i don't know who to startith so i'll just ask this question. what do we mean by the golden age, the third golden age of television? david? >> um, i think that when you have this many windows opening up for content. so there's all manner of places to put content now. great stuff is going to get through. i saw john goodman in the new
coen brothers movie but then i went to the set and there he is, he's making a great big television show for amazon and it written by gary trudeau and it's -- when window after window opens, you're going to see more opportunities for great stuff and part of what happens is the great stuff -- sometimes we have to wait for emily to tell us that it's good. >> rose: right. >> but other times it just sort of gets personned up by everyone and they say you've got to see. and we're able t program our own universe so we can go and get it wheneverwe want to. >> rose: emily? >> i agree technology is very much at the center of what's happened with t.v. to me there was this amazing confluence that happened at the turn of the century between the rise of a set of television writers who were very cantankerous and rebellious against the old rules of t.v. and its relationship with the audience and then d.v.r.es and the internet which happened esstially simultaneously enabling people to save shows
andause them and rewind them and archive them and then discuss them with strangers online. i think when both of those forces came together you could create shows with far greater complexity because people could decode them together and they could kind of last instead of squeezing into your living room like cook kay dough which is almost hard to remember back when that was the only way you watch television. >> rose: terence, you make one of them. >> certainly the hbo model of being able to do a show like "the sopranos" for an adult audience that craves challenging t.v. the manner which those stories were told. not just the ability to use adult language or or nudity now tell a long-form story for hours and hours and hours that doesn't spoon feed the audience answers and is challenging. that at the same time as all these other technologies coming together i think really made a huge difference.
>> i thi whateveryone said resonated but particularly emily. the technology of being able to watch wn you want allows you to be in some state of greater concentration not distraction. so if something is more subtle and ruires more attention and patience and character development you'll get into it and i think this is a big change in technology. d.v.r.s, on demand and the internet and then it feeds ba into linear. so i think what has really facilitated and maybe stimulated this great golden age is fundmentedly technology and it's found the great artists and that stuff has risen to the top. >> rose: and what are the economics of it? >> fundamentally today the economics have been almost aacross the board good so if you'rin the business we're in whichs table t.v. channels that's been a good business and
aided by these on-demand technologies. cable on demand, d.v.r. and sfod services like netflix, if you're in that business, those stocks are trading welland they're flourishing. we were just talking about amazon and amazon prime. so at the moment the t.v. business is a good business and everything is pretty much working. >> rose: so "breaking bad" will live because you can access it wherever you want to now? >> i think it will live very differently than "the honeymooners" lived because you can fi it and call it up on any device you have mostly any time you want anywhere. so i think it will ha a much fferent life than other old t.v. shows. >> rose: what relation we missingere? it's attracting good writers and talent. john goodman one example. when you look at the talent on "breaking bad." >> fantastic. it's a very explosive moment because what you're talking
about in terms of the economics of television-- and i'm hardly an expert on the enomics of television, i'm mostly interested in whether i like the shows or not-- but nonetheless it does seem especially if you're criticizing television it's portant to recognize the completely different styles of production that are operating simultaneously so you have cable shows that are made for high budgets, for ten episodes. yo have network shows that are under much more pressure for ratings and they have to make 22 episodes a year. there's theini serie the netflix concept. there's interesting stuff going on f/x where you have something like ouis" or lways sunny" where the shows are made for extremely cheap budgets and they have a far more sort of personal thing. there's always these different types of t.v. and the difficulty of the conversation is extending it because there's so many different routes th t.v. comes to us thateing able to talk about what's good and valuable and draw attention to things gets hder because there's so
much of it. and so many different audiences for t.v. as well. >> it also goes hand in hand what's happening in the feature business. fewer movies are being made and they are big action oriented cartoon-driven films. i'm flown on planes just glanced up and with theound off watched movies and realized i know the entire plot without hearing a word because it's good guy, bad guy, fight, explosion so actors and writers, directors, are frustrated with the lack of ability to tell real stories. you get a show like "breaking bad" or "mad men" or like my own where you can tell stories over dozens of hours. i mean for an actor to get to play a role like that or writers to develop a long-form novel in a television series is irresistible as opposed to you'll see a small movie gets made and i ask myself wow, how did they do that? how did they get that movie made toy when all they want to hear
is superhero concepts. >> we used to say show up thursday night at 8:00 and we'll light a big bfire and everyone will gather. now that people are able to program their own universe. the other thing i people are annotating with what people are seeing in plain sight with social media so it becomes a different cultural object something doesn't have to be as wonderful as "breaking bad"or "board walk empire" to be a great viing experience bause all your friends are wisecracking while it's on and you end up with a different cultural object that's a hybrid project. so even this stuff that isn't gras that great like watching the oscars or the grammys or the video music awards becomes an exciting realtime event. >> rose: because on twitter and wherever else youan communicate with your friends watching at the same time. >> sure.
and it's not just -- it's not just oh, this is low culture, this is highculte. we can take something that's high culture and bring it down to our level or take something low and bring it up. >> not only is everybody hanging with it and disdiussing it but the tact that it makes it endure and instantly accessible allows you to get at it and have fun with it in ways that used to be reserved for film. so people would study "the shining" this film we distributed called "room 27" 27" about all these people flipped out about "the shining." now you can take a t.v. show after the fact or in between seasons and you can study it to death and you can have fun with it and dissect it. >> there are recaps of each episode as if it's a chapter in a novel it's mind-boggling. recapcaps of "jersey shore."
>>.v. has become a text people can revisit rather than something that just an experience. they can take it apart and they have more knowledge of the idea of t.v. writers behind thecene which is didn't used to be such a thing. show runners are now celebrities which is a big changen how people experience it. i have this feeling about the last 15 years in t.v. that have do with -- at the beginning of this people were defensive about the idea that t.v. could be good. and there was this initial move where people compared it to books and movies so to praise a show you had to s "this show is as -- you know, the wire is good because it's like dick kens." and to me this was the status anxiety that haunted television because earlier it was always in the position of being the medium where people thoughtf it as a commercial junk that was made collaboratively and experienced and went away. but i feel like the last 15 years have been this fantastic
period because people have begun to move past that notion of comparison as necessary to talk about t.v. and have sarted to talk about the value of television as a medium itself. as something that takes place episodically over time and is in a way a little bit lik a live performance which is whatyou guys are talking about there's a level at which it alters over time because of the way the audience reacts to it. at least that's historically the way t.v. has been made. >> one of the nicest things ever said about my show was that this may forever blur the lines between television and film. >> martin scorsese directing the first episode. >> and the fact that the scope of it and how big it is and what we can do visually now. it almost doesn't matter. it's almost incidental that it happens to be a t.v. show. maybe 20 years from now it won't matter at all or people won't necessarily identify it -- certainly with netflix, is it a t.v. show?
>> but rewind ten years ago and almost all the t.v. shows were made with market considerations. very first and foremost. almost exclusively. will it sell, how many people will watch? >> it has to be a big, big number that you have to get to. >> and today truly outlets like hbo, show time, f/x, sun dance channel we are making t.v. shows and saying if the material is great and if the writing is exquisite it will find its audience if we just -- if we have some patience and that's not an irrponsible business decision, that is because it actually happens. but that is enabled by technology because t patience is allowed because if it doesn't work in season 1, there there will be a life and they'll cch up and find in the season two. and you see that phenomenon of building seasons two, three, four and five. >> and the ability to reach knish audience is crucial in terms of artistic ambition
because some shows are never going to be for everyone. t.v. historically y had to have the main character be someone likable so you could invite them into your living room every week. like a vampire situation when you had a smaller audience you can take different kinds of risks. i talk about the thing i call the three-episode show because people ask me is the show good? if it's doing something that's new for television that unsettles people, say, like enlightened or something like that where the rhythms of it are different or it's denser it takes a few episodes to actually get into it and i'm so hppy wherever there is any kindf model that allows -- trains the audience to watch it differently because otherwise you just get repetition and to me this year has been exciting the last three years there's all sorts different shows like "orange is the new black." what "scandal" is doing on network is interesting in terms of the way people respond to it.
i talked about the gritty sit comes. also sun dance is putting out all of these amaining mini series where it doesn't have to be a series that comes on for years and years. it can have its native ending so you had jane campion doing "top of the lake" which blew my mind when i watched it because it was so visual compared to how t.v. is but in a different way. >> and i watched "the return." >> "the return" was so good! french zombies! >> or "rectify." >> an "rectify." >> you have a show -- the expectation that television makers bring to the audience and say they almost dare you "rectify" i loved it. but you're basically wching six episodes waiting for a guy to smile. is he going to smile? (laughter) >> that's true! it was an artsy little bit pretentious -- people had mix feelings. >> i loved it and he did end up sming but it's the kind of thing where --
>> you guys, come on! you should be celebrating for goodness se! >> >> that's the great thing about what's happening now. people don't have to grade on a curve. they can say when there are problems with an ambitious show because the's enough stuff out there that people -- it's the old style of t.v criticism was this thing whe -- >> did you watch "rectify"? >> i loved "rectify" but it was artsy, pretentious -- >> i wasn't saying that! i loved the show. >> and it was a mixed bag. but it was new and parts of it were stirring. >> rose: jus saying, not agreeing. it's also happening across the board in termsf -- because of what's now produced for the iernet. and l ranges of television programming. almost everybody week somebody says "they're doing charlie rose." it means they've got a room somewhere th no set and they're talking to interesting people. >> right. >> the lack of a barrr to entry is -- it's lead to a lot of content, it doesn't
necessarily lead to great content. and part of the problem -- i think what we're going to see is this is a great time to have a script in your pocket. >because you have everybodyrom sony to apple and some people might call them dumb money or new money. >> i think there will be a secondave of stuff that's not that great. i think it helped -- >> meaning there's a limit on the creative capacity of writers to come up with -- toeed the monster. >> yeah, there's s only so much quality to go around. think it was a great thing for over the top, over the internet tevision that "house of cards" came first. you have david fincher, $200 million. kevin spacey and it had ts movie push out io the mketplace and it trained people, hey, stuff can come over the web and look really great
and wonderful and it upped the bar for everything that came behind it. the fact that "orange is the new black" is good is great. the fact that they busted open the door was something that was large and good it will play an important role in web t.v. going forward. >> to me one of the tricky things is as intoxicating as house of cards one and as many prestige markers came with it and it opened the door and it was an addictive watch i feel like it did a lot of familiar things. it was a dark criminal antihero drama with a main character about who you had mixed feelings, was this seductive powerful -- >> all of it very much intended to remind you you we watching telesion. >> ihink that was by design. >> you ape t. if you want to be seen as t. >> to me "orange is the new black" was theore original show and actually i wrote this piece comparing"house of cards" to "scandal" and "scandal" i
made differently but it that has similarity, the hyped-up melodrama. this is a fraught subject but to me problems about the discussion of t.v. is it's focused on a set of particular brilliant masculinity shows that have been powerful dramas th necked open the door. but the fact is i think that people need to be able to value medy and the craftsmanship of comedy as much as drama. things la that look sketchy and low budget as much as things that look cinematic. >> just to talk about that and whether either of those shows did it for t.v. on the web, "confessions of an awkward black girl"" was on the web. "drunk history" was on funny or die. "between two ferns" was on the web and is pretty modest and quite hysterical. >> charlie rose on the street between two ferns. (lghter)
>> so the interesting thing to me is in a sense what impact is it going to have on the restf television. i mean, if so much of this is -- and how much of telesion at night in terms of the internet isurned to netflix it's over 50% of online television is netflix. not just one show but netflix in general. >> very significant. the story is not yet told. the network share is down, now -- the real network share is down in the 30s somewhere from what was 25 years ago in the '80s but they're prospering economically. and preum cable, hbo, show time, stars are all prospering interestingly and the basic cable chans we're a part of are prospering and the internet -- the over-the-top services-- each of which has different ownership and construction, particularly amazon which is of course owned
by amazon is -- seems to be prospering. >> rose: amazon is doing something different. maybe different, you would know. i just talked to jeff bezos. they are using their audience, a huge audience, to test things, to test pilots. i mea it's not just a focus group -- >> it's a focus group that's 250 million people big and part of what we're going to see ming behind it is theyknow not only hat time you tuned in, at what point you tuned out. theyut their pilots up for grabs. f yo think about how piloting has gone on the network level whh is take a huge bowl of pasta, fling it against the wall, 30 shows, pick u two of them, pick up three of them. i can remember being up in the canyons in l.a. at -- at a party at norman lear's hous and he says "see all this?"
because the are all these beautiful homes all over. "this iselevision pilots. this is what you're looking at down here. that's what built this whole family." (laughter) th's what endangered by etter metrics, better data, better choices where net flicks can say okay, here's the david fincher circle, here's the kevin spacey circle, here's british "house of cards" and look in the middle and see a show they don't know how big it's going to be but at least will work and my expectation is that josh's- the cable boxes that you com over are going to get more and more smart and they're going to give you more and more data and you're going to start to use that data. >> rose: talk about that, josh, who's going to create the ultimate cable box or will there be many of them? >> david is probably the smartest guy in the room on the subject. >> i'm building one in my basement right now. (laughter). >> rose: you are? >> it involves chicken wire and gum so far.
>> but the interface which he's talked about a lot are on the cable side moving rapidly to become -- to advantage the person at home, to figure out what they like and give them wh they likend to bemart and sophisticated and to have all the consumer bells and whistles that navigate and make it all seamless and wonderful. it's not que there yet. then the feedback will come out and there will be instead of a sample of people feeding information to those that do what i do, there will be mass information that will be molecular and more authoritative. >> se: who are the winners and the losers in the third golden age of television? >> i don't know what that means. >> well, who will prosper and who will -- >> prosper? >> the consumer is drowning in riches. if once as josh says navigation gets worked out to where i can say i want to see the fourth episode of second season of "sopranos where the long tail -- let's face it. you go up with a stick and hit it and hope something pops out
that you like. >> that's not the way i do it, dave. >> think of your remote, endless navigation. think when th gets figure out. or you could walk up to restore serendipity and say "you know who i am, my context is my queryshow me something you think i would like." boom. out comes a show you've never thought of, never knew but somehow algorithmically is on to you. so he consumer because they're able to program their own universe, consume it at a time of their choosing a veryigh attention or show up for the live event and participate with their friends, the consumer is killing that. i -- my night stand is just buried in great opportunities right no >> artists, writers, actors, irectors, the ability to work in this medium not on network t.v., doing things thatre unbelievably ambitious, thing
you'd never do in a feature film. >> rose: but bck to my question. who are the losers? are feature film it is loser? all this? >> i reject the whole idea that t.v. -- partially. i'm historically against top ten lists. >> this is president t fact that some people will do well, some people won't. >> that's true but it depends on what you mean doing well. what i was going to reject is that the idea that movies and t.v. are in competition with one another. they are probably in n mpetition economically but the idea that those are the only two things, like they're always set against one another. >another. >> rose: this may be a quote of yours but someone said look, what we're competing for in the end is time of a viewer. does that resonate with you? >> very much so. i think the winners will be -- i'm not sure i hav all the answt the winners will be the terence winders of the tpaoufper who create great shows and people find them because they're reliable and do it again and
again and ithey own the i.p. there may be some riches in owning at least some of the i.p. >> what's an i.p.? (laughter) ey will big winners beause the access and the ability to find this stuff will incase and the people who are in the business of distributing or facilitating what terence does will also be -- the studio function i think will be rewarding and then the aggregation function -- if i'm not sounding too complicated-- people who put the stuff together i think will do well but at least in terms of channels i think they have to be immensely careful that they're also fresh and dynamic all the time and not just collecting stuff without contributing to it because the navigation will allow people to move through that. you know what i mean? if the somebody collects the stuff and puts movies on a channel, that's pbably not a paradigm for tomorrow. you're going to have to make stuff and contribute because you can probably go find the movies
you want individually. so that's a bit of a change, at least in the business part of it. is there a pattern to it? there are lots of antiheroes who are very popular. what's that about? >> that's a really good question. it's -- it certainly seems to be at least the mini era of the antihero. and maybe is in literature and so maybe that is rhapsodic and irresistible because they do ne up and you can't deny that tony soprano and walter white -- >> it's terence's fault. >> blame it on you. we just followed the play boo >> i said ll, all right, if someone makes -- go make a show about a good dece hardworking religious college professor and see if anybody watches it. people who live outside the bounds of society are much more interesting. >> to me the antihero shows were valuable because they changed the notion of what the audience could tolerate. as i said i feel like they threw open the door to the idea that you could have a character. i don't know if you member
people arguing about buffalo bill back in the day. >> rose: dabney coleman. >> the whole notion of cld people watch a show with a person they didn't like. >> rose: because he was a jerk. >> and it failed and everyone said they never will. and then "the sopranos" and those shows happened, that changed. b as i said i feel like it isn't the age of the antihero. there are so many other kinds of television that are equally valuable in al sorts of different ways. also the notion of the pureort of middle aged guy criminal antihero is only one kind of challenging and anxiety-provoking chacter. i mean, the characters on "girls" and "louis" and "enlightened" provoke and unsettle the audience and there are other shows like that. alicia on "the good wife" in a certain way fits a classica antiheroine role but it's hard to see because it looks like "l.a. law." but morally and in terms of the complexity and themes of the show it's very much about corruption >> and can you say see re interesting roles for women?
>> definitely. i think in general the more -- the more narrow audiences that youcan reach the wider the range of voices that can get green lighted on t.v. this has to do with complicated things about what gets green lights but for women especially, the last couple of years in a variety of different ways have been fruitful. even on channels we're not talking about like abc family has done several shows i thought were really rich and experimental in ways that don't fit into this antihero categories that not everybody may have seen but are also like powerful artistically. >> rose: there's this. john malone attracts attention because he's been huge and successful and has gone away and come back, bought up a bunch of european cable systems and is now penetrating america and others. his interest he says is in broad band. that's why i'm buying up a all these cable channels, some sense of that's where the fure is
and that's where i want to be. >> i wouldn't dbt him ever under any circumstance at any time and if i knew where he was going i would inves he's been quite ahead at every turn. >> we're talking about what's in the pipes. pes is a pretty good business. be a good business. and if he's saying that broadband is going to be the new pipe and whether it comes over coax or hever it comes, if you own the pipes you're going to be able to set up a good toll booth. a especially at a time when all this great stuff is coming through. >> that's true. >> it seems so and there's a scale tkpwhe it, too. , of course. >> rose: also this question. with netflixomi and and opening up its own bank there's going to be a l more competition for the best that there is and it's going to cost
a lot more. >> that is true. you know, from my perspective, you're asking -- from a writer's perspective, a show creator's perective has that changed things? for the placyou want obviously money is a factor the budget you made. but as an arst i want to work somewhere that respect what is i do. lets me do what i want to do with the minimum of interference that just sort of hires people that they believe in and gets out of your way and that's the question i would ask fir and foremost. >> se: for your opening episode you spent, what, $5 million on board stpwhaubg. >> that was am tiesed over the rest of the series. it was an expensive plot but that number got blown out of whack cause of that set. >> but admit going forward that the broader sort of rule will be in television that people like josh are not going to come over your shoulder with a bunch of
stupid notes because if they do you can go a different -- >> which is terrific if that's true. >> rose: don't tread on me. >> i see that with -- i say that with love because you have to best shows on t.v. but i don't think it's because you got in there with your own two dirty little hands and made them. >> it's not. we didn't and we really did put people like terence in the driver's seat and benefited enormously from that. and e hands-off no notes or light notes or good conversation. >> good conversation. >.>>ose: one last question: is anything in the popline of televisiotelltechnology that mit what we're talking about here today? >> io think that when -- i know i said this before but think about how many things live in your t.v. set that you love that you don't know about. and so when we're able to
actually see intoit and see what's in there, a huge long tail of contents is going to come up and it's going to be like the "new rker" stacking up on your night stand. (laughter) and you're gng to be going -- look at all this great stuff i haven't gotten through and i think it's going to become wch way to lk. >> rose: we haven't talked about this. we talked about the comparison with novels and dick kens and all of that and it made television feel a certain way earlier. here's a quote. somebody had written about the fact that it was the best of dickens, are we going to -- is it going to have an impact all this creative flow having is he going do something to books and other? >> will t.v. affect other kinds of art? that's an interesting question. i don't -- i often feel like the's this incredible tension
between fiction writers and television writers that are different economic structures and there's a certain kind of -- there's a moment when it seems like a lot of fiction writers were about to enter television and books wre getting picked up. don't know wheer it will flow backwards? what do you guys any. >> i don't know. they seem sort of -- what i read seems to be on it own -- in its own little world and i tend to read the stuff that's critically acclaimed. >> rose: but you see hbo, for example, take "game change" or take "doubling down" all of those, they're quick to grab them. >> well, thehey're quick to grab them and develop them but a lot of them haven't gone on the air. there was a little bit of a gold rush that seemed to be -- but, you know, it's hard to say. i'm curious whether there will be -- are there fantastic series that have come out of, like, a great book? >> just comic books, that's all. i'm half joking but "the walking dead" gave birth to -- >> that have come out of a novel. i haven't -- maybe i'm n thinking of one but i can't
think of something that's been a novel turned into a television show that's been a major breakthrough and as much as novels and television shows get compared they're completely different formats. television is hugely collaborative. television is visual, television these do with production. >> very different writing. not every novelist cantranslate into it. >> one of the things if you're thinking about technology think about the fact that we have two screens now or many of us. there's one screen. what happens when the second screen gets smushed into the first? and when we control the crawl at the bottom of our television and if i want to hear emily wisecracking during "girls" i can just -- that's going to be my feed. her and her buddies. >> this kills me. i tet all the tie. i tet during "scandal." i don'tweet during "girls" and i don't twe during mad men because ieel like it's visual and want to watch it. sometimes ding the commercials
look and see but there's no topping it. >> thankou, emily, thank you, terence, thank you, david, thank you, josh. back in a moment. stay with us. >> and we're losing the battle within the african american community. it's not because of the ku klux klan, it's because we've internalized our own oppression and until we return to the values that those of us my age in this room understand and all people of color understand and all people in this room understand that you have to pursue all of the learning and knowledge that you possibly can. that's the only way to liberate yourselves and individually and your people. >> rose: henry louis gates, jr., is here. he is a professor at harvard university and one of our best scholars in african american history. he returns to pbs with the new six-part documentary where he takes viewers on an engaging historical tour. the series is called "the african americans: many rivers to cross." and here is a look.
>> who were the slave traders? >> the slveraders were great warriors, strong men,hiefs. >> and here's the cupboard that sam hid in. >> an adult male got in here? he'd have to be decemr split. >> desperate. as charlestonslept, robert smalls, a slave, plotted his escape aboard a ship. he's elected to office just three years after the civil war ends. >> robert smalls epitomizes america. come from nothing and to be a success. >> to be le to have made that leap from this impoverished childhood to now being the wealthiest african arican woman in america. >> why would anybody be overwhelmed at a 34-room house. >> (laughs) i don't feel overwhelmed.
>> there is still opposition to integration here, but integration is bei accomplished. >> i remember being in the car with federal marshals. i do remember them chanting, 2, 4, 6,8, we don't want to integrate. >> we would go to lunch counters as a gro and we would just sit and wait to be served. >> i'm sorry, our management does not allow us to serve anythinge in here. >> in 1960 a lot of stuff came together and exploded. the whites came into the neighborhood and just started fighting and beating us up. >> mr. carmichael are you as committed to the nonviolent approach as dr. king is? >> no, i'm not.
>> thelack panther as an organizing symbol was very hot. >> you remember back then that's when the afros hit us, i had a big afro, everybody had a big after trow. >> me, too. >> i'm convinced that what we did started a process that has an african american in the white house. >> we prepared to takehe oath, senator? >> i am. >> my reaction was "we did it. they said weouldn't, we did." >> i had to be there. but i had to walk away fromhe throngs of people because the people that i felt the closes to -- some of them couldn't be there. >> i know. >> and i had my mment and then
i went back and listened to the first black president take the oath of office. (laughs) ♪ many rivers to cross but i can't seem to find ♪ my way over >> i tell my students i would have flunked slavery. how could you survive everything and have hope? build a family, fall in love? ♪ many rivers to cross, but just where to begin ♪ i need more time >> rose: he has also recently advised director steve mcqueen on his acclaimed film "12 years a slave." i'm pleased to have skip gates back at this table. welcome. >> thank you, charlie, nice to be back. >> rose: where did this idea first come to you. because it's something you think would have been done before. >> in retrospect it really started when i was 17 years old,
senior year of high school sitting in the living room of my parents in piedmont, west virginia, watching our little black-and-white t.v. and up jumps the first black documentary i ever saw. it was bill cosby's "black history, lost, ston or strayed." and it was one of those life changing events. i know wese that -- we overuse thaterm, it's a clay shea but it changed my life. i didn't know anything about black history up to this time. and a year ler when i went to yale the first course i enrolled in was the survey course in afterr american history taught by willm mcfeeley. >> rose: does every major university today have an african american studiesrogram? >> every one worth its salt. >> they all have some courses -z which was a big difference than when you and i were students, of course. >rose: and do you believe that your scholarly work there just finds another place, another sreb you in terms of the kinds of series you do on public tell stphreugs.
>> absolutely. i can tell by walking down the street who stops me. if i'm doing a "roots show," finding your roots, a lot of middle aged white pele, asians, spanic people and black people will stop me and say something about it. make suggestions about who should be on next. for this show black people from the upper middle-classes to working class stope and say "you're doing a good job, you're representing the race." there's nothing that feels as good as that. saying your mama wld be proud. so i wanted to tell the whole story no one incredibly as you said is trying to te the whole story of the african american people. since bill cosby in 1968. >> rose: we've told baseball, jazz, politics, civil rights. >> segments. >> rose: but not the whole story. >> right. you do slavery, you do reconstruction, you do the harlem pbs sans but tell 5g00 years -- it took me seven years. i started seven years ago and i wrote to 40 historians and asked
them to give me the indispensable stories that had to be included for any sophisticated survey of african american's historyhese people sent back a thousand stories. then i said, you know, you can't put that many stories in a documentary. you can do ten, maybe 11 in an hour's program. so we worked for several years to pear that down to 70 stories and each one is exemplary of -- you can't the story of every one runaway slave. you can't tell the story of every lynching. you can't tell e story of every black person who performed nobly in a war you pick one that's emblematic. >> robert smalls was a 23-ar-old slave pressednto service for the confederacy aboard a warship called "the planter." for nearly a year he quietly observed the movements of the ship and its crew. just before dawn on may 13, 1862 smalls took his chance.
while the ship's officers slept ashore, he and his fellow slave crewmen pulled anchor and ease i"the planter" into chaeston harbor. >> they had prearrang to meet their family members and to pick them up and then come back down the peninsula and they begin the process--nd this is in the wee hours of the morning-- of sailing out of the harbor. they are embarked now on an extremely dangerous journey. >> rose: are your ultime heroes fo you people in the forefront of the civil rights movement? people who have had some distinguished career in politics or finance. or are they the cultural heroes where african americans have had such a stunning coribution? >> well, my ultimate heroes are my parents. cornel west and i had a
conversation once we talked about the absurdity of our parents. i was born in 1950, cornell was born in 1953, but our parents never made us el that there were limits to our imagination, limits to what we could achieve. think about that. and i was born four years before "brown v. board" and they never made me feel that i couldn't be a doctor or couldn't b a lawyer or whatever it was that i wanted. that takes a kind of special person who understands about deferred gratification, who believes in the future believes in the coming generations and knows that they have to propp theirhild, give them armament against the forces that would seek to delimit them or hurt them because of their race or color more to the case of jewish people becse of their religion. so it's that generation that are my heroes. then when i think about the
slaves the other thing i was talking to tavis smiley and he says what would give our people hope? not the people who through affirmative action like me are doing very well. >> rose: will give them hope now? >> now. but the people who were in the underclasses as some scholars say. the lower working classes. or the nonworking classes. and you think what gave our slave ancestors hope? they didn't know there would be an emancipation proclamation. they didn't know there would be a civil war yet they built families. do you know that there were only 388,000 africans brought to the united states in the whole history of the slave trade. you know how many were brought to brazil? >> rose: stphoup >> fivemillion. >> rose: wow! >> the 42 million african americans today grew-- that's what the phrase was, we're going to grow our own slaves-- out of this body of 388,000. so that means these people despite the fact they were slaves believed in the principles of democracy in this great republic. they believed hope against hope
that they could make out of a way and that one day there be a white guy from north carolina interviewing ablack boy from west virginia and he'd be teaching at harvard. >> rose: you've always accused me -- >> of being a brother and i'm pleased to announce i'm doing your d.n.a. in our next series and we're goingo out you, other. you're going to take a pay cut. sorry, charlie, you're going to be canceled. >> what is it you want to be or dorr? >> what i want to be or do? i'm doing what i want to do. i would love to be able to continue to teach my day job as a professor. i love to teach. i'm a university professor so i can teach two courses a year. >> rose: it's a big university, right? >> when my dear friend larry, we team teach a large lecture course, introductionto african american studies and i teach a graduate course in the english department because my ph.d. is in english literature from the university of cambridge. but my weekend job, my night job is a documentary filmmaker.
and this -- "the african americans: many rivers to cross" is my 13th documentary film. i've written 17 books and made 13 films. >> maybe i should strt teaching in my private time. >> but you do teach every night. you do. i watched you last night. you were fantastic. >> rose: you're doing another program called finding your roots. >> season two of finding your roots. this will be our fifth program that deals with genealogy. >> rose: this is the one i'll be on. >> yes. ben affleck is in, sally field, shonda rimes mellody hobson. billy jean king. norman lear. >> rose: what do you do? >> we trac your family tree back to the -- until the records disappear then we do your d.n.a. and your d.n.a. will tell you your percentages of european, native american, and african, charlie. you're from north carolina. lot of strange things happened
at watering places down in north carolina during slavery. do you think you h slaves? do you think you had slaves in the family? >> i doubt it. i doubt it but i don't know. i really don't. i'd like to know. speaking of slaves, you advised the great steve mcqueen, the director, the film director on "12 years a slave." >> rose: didn't he do a brilliant job? it was amazing. do yo know that that book -- i have a series of penguinbooks called "black classics" and we published that edition. >> rose: is that right? of the original book. >> it sold 40,000 copies last mth. >> ro: that's because of the movies. >> yeah, we sold more copies me a month than in 150 years. it was a best-seller at the time but it sold 30,000 copies. >> rose: tell us what it tells. itells the story of a man who was a free man. >>free. he lived inpstate new york. >> rose: what was his name? >> solomon northup. a musician. two fast talking guys come to town and asked him if he wanted to make quick fast money. theyake him to new york, then to d.c., that was a miste because slavery was legal in
washington until 1862. this is 1841. he's drugged and wakes up in a slave pen within the shadow of the capitoland he ends up on a plantation in louisiana. it's a horrible story. he was 12 years a slave and it's such a vivid slave narrative because he has -- had a phenomenal memory and so he gives vivid testimony about the nature of slavery. >> rose: he wrote the book after he was freed? >> came back. he got a white man from canada to write letters t his friends and th cameown and they consulted with the governor. >> rose: from new york? >> and they got him out. >> rose: what's intesting about this is most slave films have to do with going from slavery to freedom. this one is about going from freedom to slavery. and then back. >> there were 101 slave narratives published between 1760 and 1866 a there's only one about aan who is free and kidnaped into slavery and then is free again.
and it's one of the best written of the whole genre. in fact he sold mortar copies of his slave narrative than the great frederick douglass. >> rose: wow. when you look at the series we've just showed you and this idea of crossg the river what do you want us to come away with? >> i want two things. one, how far our people have come over the last 500 yearsnd how far w have yet to go. and the reason is charlie since that terrible day in 196 whe dr. king was s brutally assassinated, the black upper middle-class has quadrupled. that's the good news. the bad news. >> the percentage of black children living at or beneath the poverty line is in the mid-30%. it's almost exactly what it was the day dr. king was killed. so that means that some of us have been able to take advantage the gains made possible by the sacrifices of the pioneers of the civil rights movement but a large percentage of our people
are still left behind and look at the percentage of the number of black men in prison. martin luther king would be shocked if he came back and found that out and i'm hoping that we can have the real conversation about race by integrating the curriculum. every time there's a racial incident our lears talk about a conversation about race. this is a town hall meeting talking about you. people are testifying saying i used to be a racist but i'm better now like an a.a. meetin then two weeks ler there's another racial incident. whe in america are citizens shaped? they're shap in schools. theye shaped in schools invisibly everyday. what do you learn in first ade? my country 'tis of thee, america the betiful, i pledge allegiance to the flag,eorge washington chopped down the cherry tree. your teacher doesn't say "i'm going to teach you how to be a citizen. they just teach you how to be a citizen. we can't say we're going to have a conversation about race. we have to embed that
onveation about race inextricably intertwined in the curriculum. so there can be no american history without african american history. there can be no discussion about the past and future of america, the promise of america without understanding the black presence. so i want this series to be to be a basis-- not the only basis-- but a basis for integrating the curriculum with the full significance and presence of the african amican people over the last 500 years. and counterintuitivety we start this series not in 1619 when the first 20 angolans came to point comfort near jamestown but in 1513 when the first black conquistador named juan garrito-- we have a painting of him-- who was a free black man came to florida with ponce de leone came to florida looking for the fountain of youth. we have his petition for a pension to the king of sin, 1538 which he writes it and says he did this, this, and this and
he was the first person to s wheat in all of the knew world. that's when i knew he was a brother. and he got the pension. so we go all the way from a free black conquistador in 1513 to the secondnauguration of the first black president barack obama in 2013. half a millennium 5,00 years exactly. >> rose: >> rose: thank you for coming. >> thank you, brother. >> rose: fifth and sixth episodes will air tuesday, november 19 and 26th at 8:00 p.m. episode 5 and 6 on tuesday, november 19 and 26 at 8:00 p.m. on pbs. thank you for joining us. see you next time. captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh
announcer: the following kqed production was produced in high definition. ♪ >> must have soup! >> the pancake is to die for! >> it was a gut-bomb, but i liked it. >> i actually fantasized in private moments about the food i had. >> i didn't like it. >> you didn't like it? >> dining here makes me feel rich. >> and what about dessert? pecan pie? sweet potato pie?