PBS press tour highlights Downton, Nas on Finding Your Roots

By Dru Sefton

The stars of Downton Abbey aren’t the only luminaries whom journalists will chat with during PBS’s portion of the Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour today and Wednesday.

Other big names at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, Calif., include rapper and songwriter Nas, director Spike Lee, Oscar winner Geena Davis, actor Nathan Lane and television legend Dick Cavett.

Finding Your Roots Nas

Rap artist Nas learns about his family’s history this season in Finding Your Roots on PBS. (Photo: PBS)

The twice-yearly tour is a chance for broadcasters to woo more than 200 reporters with news of their upcoming schedules, deploying sizzle reels, high-profile appearances, question-and-answer sessions and, of course, food and drinks.

PBS President Paula Kerger will greet journalists during her executive session at 10 a.m. Pacific time. Later today, the press conference for Season 5 of Downton Abbey, PBS’s blockbuster series on Masterpiece, will feature Lady Edith (Laura Carmichael), Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery), Anna Bates (Joanne Froggatt) and Tom Branson (Allen Leech), as well as Executive Producer Gareth Neame and Masterpiece’s Rebecca Eaton. It will conclude with cocktails, dinner and a ballroom reception.

The second season of Finding Your Roots, hosted by Harvard’s Henry Louis Gates Jr., brings stars including Def Jam Recording artist Nas to the stage. He and fellow rapper LL Cool J trace their ancestral histories this season.

Spike Lee will appear for the Independent Lens presentation of Evolution of a Criminal, a documentary by filmmaker Darius Monroe, also the subject of the film. Monroe was 16 when he robbed a bank; 17 years later, he takes responsibility and reveals to the audience the motivations behind the crime. Lee executive-produces.

Other featured content at the tour includes Dick Cavett’s Watergate, marking the 40th anniversary of President Nixon’s resignation; an American Experience biopic of showman Robert Ripley, Ripley: Believe It or Not; and an American Masters presentation, Bing Crosby: Rediscovered, with appearances by the crooner’s widow Kathryn Crosby and children Harry, Nathaniel and Mary.

Here’s the entire Press Tour schedule, from the PBS Pressroom.

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