Winner 1997

The American Experience: The Presidents


This ongoing series of documentaries for public television has made a significant contribution to our knowledge of the life and times of presidents in the 20th century. Each program is an exquisite production; together, they represent a rich and valuable body of work, presenting a perfect blend of cinematic technique, historical perspective and compelling narrative. From “Nixon” and “The Kennedys,” produced by Elizabeth Deane to “Ike” and “Reagan,” produced by Austin Hoyt and Adriana Bosch, and “FDR,” “TR,” “LBJ,” and “Truman,” produced by David Grubin, The American Experience: The Presidents series has brought history and the presidency to life. Series host David McCullough brings a lifetime of experience as historian, biographer and teacher to bear in excellent introductions to each episode. This impressive effort began in 1990 under the outstanding and dedicated stewardship of Judy Crichton as executive producer, who retired in January 1997, when long-time collaborator and senior producer Margaret Drain took the helm. With full commitment from Peter McGhee, WGBH vice-president for national programming, The American Experience has set out “to do for history what NOVA has done for science.” With The Presidents (and other programs recognized today and in recent years by the Peabody Awards), it is clear that goal is being met in superior fashion. Much as the presidencies themselves provide a framework for modern American history, these films stand for time as a major part of the public record of these very public lives. In recognition of this outstanding achievement, a Peabody goes to The American Experience: The Presidents series.