The surprise that PBS execs saved for last at its Showcase conference was Carrier (working title), a 10-hour close-up doc series on the crew of the U.S.S. Nimitz with a propulsive rock soundtrack. PBS plans to air it sometime in 2008.
Series Director Maro Chermayeff, who was a producer and director of PBS’s six-episode Frontier House in 2002, described Carrier as “a cross between Top Gun, High School and Prison.” The filmmakers concentrated on a few members of the crew, which has an average age of 19.
The series will give viewers "a total immersion in the high stakes world of the nuclear aircraft carrier — The USS Nimitz," Chermayeff said in an e-mail to Current.
The project, developed and headed by Mitchell Block, also includes a 90-minute feature doc for theatrical release before broadcast.
“I like that, frankly,” PBS programmer John Wilson told Current, referring to the theatrical run. “Given the emerging appetite for tight, well-made documentaries, there’s a good chance of wide release. That really softens up the beachhead ... when it comes to TV.”
Series co-creators Block and Chermayeff share executive producer credit with a trio from key funder Icon Productions — actor Mel Gibson, Bruce Davey and Nancy Cotton. Series producers are Deborah Dickson, who is also directing the feature, and Jeff Dupre, senior story producer. Three field producers also worked on the series, according to Block: Matthew Akers, Michelle Smawley and Pam Yates.
Dickson, an Oscar-nominated documentarian who directed the American Masters profile of Gore Vidal, promised that PBS stations will have the option to choose an FCC-friendly version “with no swearing sailors.”
PBS agreed to distribute the program after production was complete, Block said. [Contrary to the report in Current's print edition, the producers did not accept funding from the CPB/PBS Challenge Fund, he said.]
Wilson has seen a rough cut of the whole series, and it isn’t rough. “It’s one of the finest rough cuts I’ve ever seen,” he said.
Popular rock fills the soundtrack, Wilson said. He said the band on the Showcase clip reel is The Killers.
Web page posted May 29, 2007, corrected Oct. 9, 2007
Copyright 2007 by Current Publishing Committee