PBS talks 2009 programming at TCA

'King Lear,' Ken Burns miniseries on slate

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

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

"I haven't seen the taped version," Kerger said, when asked about the possibility PBS would censor the full frontal nudity in the stage performance. 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 TCA press tour at the Beverly Hilton. Others are a 12-hour miniseries on America's national parks from super documentarian 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 high def cinematography. "Latin Music USA," from WGBH Boston, starts with the mambo and the cha cha and moves up to urban fusion genres, such as Spanish rap and reggaeton.

Earlier in the morning, Sesame Workshop announced a new and updated version of "The Electric Company," which ran on PBS from 1971 to 1985. The new show, aimed at improving literacy for kids six through nine, will be a weekly series, beginning in January.