*Documentarian Ken Burns, who has put his stamp on such topics as the civil war, national parks, jazz, the Central Park Five and most recently prohibition and the Dust Bowl, will next year turn his attention toward baseball pioneer Jackie Robinson.
Set for the fall of 2015, the PBS documentary will span four hours and attempt to dig beneath the legend that fans saw on the field.
“He has been so smothered in myth that it’s really hard to get at the real person,” said Burns at the TCA Press Tour on Monday in Pasadena.
“It was really important for us to know where he came from. So some more attention will be paid to his upbringing here in Pasadena. He was born in rural Georgia, but his mother escaped and came to Pasadena.
“The legend has it that they were allowed, his brother and he were allowed to swim in the town pool after which the city fathers drained the pool and re filled it again. I haven’t been able to verify that, but this is one of these apocryphal stories that comes down.”
Below, Burns reveals more details about the upcoming documentary – including his post-baseball career in civil rights.
Other Ken Burns documentaries in the pipeline include the 14-hour “The Roosevelts: An Intimate History,” about Theodore, Franklin, and Eleanor Roosevelt; the six-hour “The Story Of Cancer: The Emperor Of Al Maladies,” based on the book The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography Of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee, M.D.; “Vietnam,” planned for the 2016-17 TV season; “Country Music,” planned for the following season; and “Ernest Hemingway” in 2019-20 season.
Next for Burns is “The Address,” which follows a school in Vermont that each year has students with learning disabilities memorize the Gettysburg Address delivered by President Lincoln on Nov. 19, 1963. The film is short by Burns standards – just under two hours – and airs April 15 at 9 p.m. on PBS. Watch a clip below.