PBS announced on Saturday (July 21) that tireless documentary warrior Ken Burns is bringing “The Roosevelts: An Intimate History” to the network in 2014.
“The Roosevelts: An Intimate History” will be a seven-part, 14-hour documentary focuses on Theodore, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, weaving all three narratives into a single film for the first time.
States Burns, “The Roosevelts have played significant roles in other stories we’ve told before, from the National Parks to World War II. It’s impossible, in fact, to visit many parts of the American experience without encountering their presence. But beyond simply sharing a bloodline or political success, they each shared a passionate belief that America is at its strongest when everyone has an equal chance. And on a personal level, they each struggled to overcome their own fears while maintaining a public face of courage.”
“In ‘The Roosevelts,’ Ken delves into these three larger-than-life figures in a way that’s never been done before, exploring not only the characteristics that made them such tremendously influential and strong leaders, but also their interpersonal relationships and human, vulnerable qualities,” states Paula Kerger, president and CEO of PBS. “It’s a wonderful story and we’re very excited to present it to our viewers.”
Burns will direct “The Roosevelts,” while Geoffrey Ward will script.
The project has already lined up a top-notch voice-over cast led by three-time Oscar winner Meryl Streep, who will narrate for Eleanor Roosevelt from her [Eleanor’s, not Meryl’s] personal letters and writings.
“As we’ve seen time and time again, Ms. Streep is a magician,” Burns adds. “Here, she completely transformed herself into Eleanor Roosevelt, simply through her voice. It was remarkable to witness. The entire cast delivers what I consider to be some of the finest voice-over work we’ve ever been fortunate enough to present.”
Joining Streep are Paul Giamatti as Theodore Roosevelt and Edward Herrmann as Franklin Roosevelt. Herrmann, of course, received Emmy nominations for playing FDR in the telefilms “Eleanors and Franklin” and “Eleanor and Franklin: The White House Years.”
The supporting cast of “The Roosevelts” includes Patricia Clarkson, Adam Arkin, Philip Bosco, Keith Carradine, Kevin Conway, Ed Harris, John Lithgow, Josh Lucas, Carl Lumbly, Amy Madigan, Carolyn McCormick, Pamela Reed, Billy Bob Thornton and Eli Wallach.
Burns’ next PBS production, “The Dust Bowl,” airs on PBS on November 18 and November 19. “The Central Park Five” will air on PBS in 2013 or 2014. And PBS already announced that Burns’ “Vietnam” will air in 2016.