KCET Offers Something Special, from TV Shows, Burbank Studio and its Great Cinema Series

Photo by Ryan Miller/Capture Imaging

Pete Hammond, host of KCET’s Cinema Series.

Throughout its 48-year history, KCET has been proud of the important role it has played in the cultural and educational enrichment of all of Southern California. Over the years our local very independent public television outlet has presented a wide range of award-winning programming, as well as some of the finest shows from around the world.

It is a donor-supported institution, and among the entertaining ways it raises funds is with the quarterly KCET Cinema Series screenings, held in the spring and the fall at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences in North Hollywood. The series hosted by the renowned film expert Pete Hammond, who is one of the best interviewers in the business, previews eight major new films prior to their first run local release. An extra treat is the screening of a classic James Coburn film, because the James and Paula Coburn Foundation is the main sponsor of the series, along with the E. Hofert Dailey Trust.

Hammond thrilled everyone at the beginning of the current NoHo KCET Cinema Series when he announced that on Tuesday, April 9, at 7 p.m. the “James Coburn Classic Night” would feature the 40th anniversary screening of The Last of Sheila. Film fans know this cinematic gem. It is a star-studded murder mystery from Warner Bros. Pictures, directed by Herbert Ross. But the surprising credit is that The Last of Sheila is the first and only screenplay by Anthony Perkins and Stephen Sondheim.

The story set in the ’70s centers around an intricate game of murder among wealthy vacationers orchestrated after the death of gossip columnist Shelia Green. Sheila’s widower, a movie producer played by the great James Coburn, assembles a group of friends aboard his yacht named Shelia. The cast of characters is classic. They include a washed up director (James Mason), a self-absorbed agent (Dyan Cannon), a beautiful movie star (Raquel Welch), her untrustworthy husband (Ian McShane), a struggling writer (Richard Benjamin), and his heiress wife (Joan Hackett).

A discussion about the film will follow the screening, along with a Q&A with co-stars Dyan Cannon and Richard Benjamin, plus others connected with the movie are expected to attend. Even if you don’t have a season pass to the Cinema Series, call (747) 201-5800 for information and reservations. Tickets are available for the special James Coburn Classic Night on April 9, and the last two screenings: April 16 for The Reluctant Fundamentalist followed by a Q&A with the director Mira Nair; and the April 23 screening will be announced soon. It’s always a great night out at the movies with Pete Hammond and KCET.

KCET’s award-winning SoCal Connected, the hard-hitting prime-time nightly news program that examines the issues of Southern California that matter most in our daily lives, has a scheduling change. Starting the week of April 1, the show goes on its annual hiatus and has new times – Fridays at 9:30 p.m. and repeating on Sundays at 6:30 p.m.

“SoCal Connected is going on hiatus as Season Five ends this week, although we will continue to be on the air twice a week with some original programming and the best of the season,” said Bret Marcus, executive producer, SoCal Connected and senior vice president, News and Factual Programming, KCETLink. “As happens every year, there are questions about the show’s future. And the answer is always the same, SoCal Connected depends on public funding and we don’t know at this time what that funding will be. We are very proud of what we have accomplished this year, and hope the show will be back for Season Six.”

“During our fifth season we initiated more changes than ever before,” said Marcus. “SoCal Connected moved from airing one night to five nights a week. Radio personality, Madeleine Brand, joined host Val Zavala on a nightly basis as a special contributor.”

This season so far, SoCal Connected has received the most prestigious award in broadcasting, the duPont-Columbia University Award for Investigative Journalism, as well as two Golden Mike Awards. It is a show worthy of our support.

In other news at the studio, it was announced that KCET has won the 2012 Broadcast Engineering Excellence Award for the station’s new state of the art broadcast facility. Last April KCET relocated from its historic Sunset lot to The Pointe in Burbank, a new LEED GOLD certified building across from NBC. Now KCET’s studios are equipped with the latest technologies, all new equipment, and resources for optimal broadcast transmission and production efficiency. “This was a fantastic opportunity to conceive, design and build a media facility from the ground up,” said Gordon Bell, KCET’s Senior Vice President of Engineering and Operations. “It was a privilege to head up a team of so many talented individuals and work with some of the most respected companies in the broadcast technology industry.” They are proud to be part of our community.