Winner 1997

Divided Highways: The Interstates and the Transformation of American Life

Florentine Films/Hott Productions, WETA-TV, Washington, DC

Many of the milestones of post-World War II America have been duly acknowledged, documented, and presented with the Peabody, including such events as the arms race, the space race, desegregation and the “baby boom.” This novel production offers the inquisitive American something even more concrete—a treatise on interstate highways. A delightful essay on the history of the interstate highway system, the program describes how freeways have transformed the continent in physical, sociological and psychological ways. The creation of new cities, the division and destruction of neighborhoods, and the evolution of fast-food, are living proof of the everlasting power of pavement. Exquisitely co-produced and directed by Lawrence R. Hott, and Tom Lewis, co-producer and writer (and upon whose book the show was based), Divided Highways shows President Dwight D. Eisenhower cutting the ceremonial ribbon along the first interstate, and continues the joyride through the next four decades. The program benefits from standout cinematography by Allen Moore, snappy music by Richard Einhorn and smooth narration by George Guidall, making the journey as thoroughly enjoyable as it is enlightening. Editor Diane Garey and assistant editor Susan Orlosky make important contributions to the pace and rhythm of the piece while humorist Dave Barry headlines an eclectic array of “road warriors,” who include Fred Rogers, Julia Child, and Molly Ivins. For providing an informative yet leisurely and nostalgic ride through a 3,000-mile swath of Americana, a Peabody goes to Florentine Films, Hott Productions and WETA-TV for Divided Highways.