A “live” interview filmed at Hope College with four of the nation’s Founding Fathers filmed will be featured on PBS stations around the country during Fourth of July weekend.
The first episode in the new series “Inventing America: Conversations with the Founders,” the program will highlight the origins of the Declaration of Independence. The episode, “Making a Nation,” has been made available to about 350 PBS stations via the National Educational Telecommunications Association (NETA).
Viewers should check the schedule of the PBS station in their area for broadcast times. It will air in West Michigan on WGVU-Life on Monday, July 4, at 5 p.m.; on WGVU and WGVU HD on Monday, July 4, at 11 p.m.; and on WGVU and WGVU HD on Tuesday, July 12, at 3 a.m. It is also available online at pbs.org/video/2365527882/.
“Making a Nation,” which is about 60 minutes long, runs as an interview with three of the Declaration’s signers—Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin—and one delegate to the Second Continental Congress, John Dickinson, who refused to sign, revealing the conflict behind the historic event. While imagined and presented as a retrospective, the conversation is based on fact, using the Founders’ actual words. The moderator is Dr. Marc Baer of the college’s history faculty.
Created by Holland resident Milton Nieuwsma, a two-time Emmy Award winner, the program was developed as a joint project of Hope College and WGVU Public Media. Jefferson, Adams and Franklin were portrayed by Bill Barker, Sam Goodyear and John Hamant respectively, all of whom are actors with Colonial Williamsburg, and Dickinson was portrayed by actor Rodney TeSlaa of the Greater Grand Rapids area. Executive producer was Darell Schregardus of Davis, California, and the director was emeritus theatre faculty member John K.V. Tammi. Both Nieuwsma and Schregardus are 1963 Hope graduates.
“Inventing America: Conversations with the Founders” was filmed as a pilot for a potential limited-run PBS series focused on the story of the American republic, with the format modeled after Steve Allen’s classic “Meeting of Minds” series, which aired on PBS from 1977 to 1981. An early cut was shown at the Knickerbocker Theatre and on WGVU last July. A second episode will be filmed on campus in December, and a third potentially in March.