PBS answers call for more 'War' Latinos


The war over "The War" is over and a truce has been declared. After pointed criticism by Latino groups that the much-awaited documentary on America during World War II made too little mention of Latino contributions, exec producer Ken Burns added nearly a half-hour of new material.

"We honored what was legitimate about their concerns," Burns said during the PBS portion of the Television Critics Assn.'s summer press tour at the Beverly Hilton. "We've done more than we were asked or expected to," he said. "We were planning to add additional stories before this was a controversy."

The original docu, about 14 1/2 hours long, was completed about 18 months ago. The additional material will be put at the end of the first, fifth and sixth episodes. "War" will be shown in seven parts, beginning Sept. 23.

Earlier in the session, PBS president and CEO Paula Kerger denied that public television set a bad precedent by altering a docu in response to concerns of particular groups. By finishing the docu early and showing parts of it, Burns "had an opportunity to listen and consider their perspective," she said.

Despite a recent federal court decision that said the FCC had gone too far in its efforts to fine broadcasters for use of obscene language, PBS will distribute two versions of "War." Public TV stations can choose the original or a version in which the salty remarks of veterans were sanitized. "We'll give stations an opportunity to choose what is appropriate for their communities," Kerger said.

In other PBS announcements:

  "Masterpiece Theatre" will have a new look, a new opening and a new host in January, though no one has yet been selected. Beginning Jan. 13 and for four months, the veteran PBS drama series will broadcast adaptations of all six Jane Austen novels, including four new productions.

  Tom and Ray Magliozzi, known as Click and Clack on public radio's "Car Talk," will bring their combination of humor and auto advice to PBS in summer 2008. A total of 10 half-hour shows have been ordered.