Tuesday roundup: Headlee joins GPB, revamped History Detectives premieres July 1

By Andrew Lapin

Headlee will anchor GPB’s first Atlanta-based original program.

• Celeste Headlee is joining Georgia Public Broadcasting to host a one-hour news and information show on WRAS, the Atlanta station GPB will broadcast on as part of a channel-sharing agreement announced May 6. The show, which is not yet titled, is the first original program GPB has announced for the station. Headlee, the former host of Public Radio International’s The Takeaway, produced two pilot episodes and launched a crowdfunding campaign for an independently produced news program, Middle Ground, in September 2013; the campaign was unsuccessful.

• PBS will premiere July 1 the first episode of History Detectives: Special Investigations, its revamp of the decade-old History Detectives series. The show’s four-episode initial run features stories investigating World War II–era musician Glenn Miller; a serial killer in Austin, Texas; the sinking of a Civil War–era steamship; and the disappearance of Detroit labor organizer Jimmy Hoffa. PBS announced it would be reinventing the show in July 2013, in part due to flagging ratings.

The network is pairing the show with the new three-part series Time Scanners, in which host Dallas Campbell and a team of laser-scanning researchers from the University of Arkansas “reveal physical and forensic mysteries of the ancient world’s most iconic structures,” according to a press release.

• Michael F. Beach is the incoming vice president of distribution for NPR, overseeing the Public Radio Satellite System. Beach will start May 27, reporting to Marty Garrison, NPR vice president of technology operations and broadcast engineering. Beach joins NPR from international satellite-service provider Intelsat S.A. He will replace Pete Loewenstein, who retired in December.

• Documentary filmmaker Olly Lambert has won this year’s annual Peter S. McGhee Fellowship, awarded by Boston’s WGBH to a mid-career filmmaker who “has shown exceptional promise in non-fiction broadcast television.” Lambert has produced films for WGBH’s Frontline including 2007’s “Afghanistan: The Other War” for the Frontline/World spinoff program and, most recently, 2013’s “Syria: Behind the Lines.” Lambert is also a filmmaker-in-residence with the BBC’s current affairs program Newsnight.

• Longtime Wait Wait . . . Don’t Tell Me! scorekeeper Carl Kasell received another retirement gift of sorts: a guest spot on Fox’s The Simpsons. Kasell and host Peter Sagal appeared on the program’s May 11 episode (Hulu Plus account required) as themselves when Lisa and a friend listened to the show.  The show’s hosts were foisting Kasell’s customized voicemail message onto a reluctant House minority whip. “That’s OK, really,” the whip said. “It’s not optional,” Kasell growled.

  • Aaron Read

    It appears that Headlee’s initial Kickstarter attempt to fund “Middle Ground” did fail, but a second, more modest crowdsourcing attempt through Indiegogo WAS successful. However, I would have to assume that her new job means that “Middle Ground” is being shut down?

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