PBS is tad leery of its nude 'Lear'


A nude King Lear might be dandy for the Royal Shakespeare Company, but PBS isn't sure.

PBS president and CEO Paula Kerger said Saturday that it was too early to say whether public television stations will show Ian McKellan in the altogether when he appears in a filmed version of the performance, slated for broadcast in winter or spring 2009.

"I haven't seen the taped version," Kerger said. Besides, she added, "it's not what I think about it, it's what the FCC will allow."

"King Lear" was one of several highlights for 2009 announced by Kerger at the Television Critics Assn. summer press tour at the Beverly Hilton. Others include a 12-hour miniseries on America's national parks from Ken Burns in the fall and a four-hour series on Latin music, "Latin Music USA," including interviews and performances by many of the biggest names in the genre, starting Jan. 21.

The Burns miniseries, broadcast over six nights, traces the birth of the national park idea through its fruition with archival material and HD cinematography. "Latin Music USA," from WGBH Boston, starts with the mambo and the cha cha and moves to urban fusion genres, such as Spanish rap and reggaeton.

Sesame Workshop also announced a new and updated version of "The Electric Company," which ran on PBS from 1971-85. The show will be a weekly series, beginning in January. (partialdiff)