02-19-2017  7:59 pm      •     
Shirley Neal and Louis Gossett Jr. attend the LA premiere of "Under The Gun" at Samuel Goldwyn Theater on Tuesday, May 3, 2016 in Beverly Hills.(Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Media attention to gun violence tends to be doled out in predictable, limited ways: when a mass shooting happens, when the anniversary of such a tragedy is marked or when the use of deadly force by law enforcement or citizens is questioned.

But the headline-driven nature of the coverage is starting to shift, with documentary filmmakers, TV networks and others attempting to reach beyond the heat and anger of the moment in search of more nuanced — and sometimes more pointed — scrutiny of a crucial American issue.

With "Armed in America," PBS is giving over much of its prime-time schedule Monday and Tuesday to a pair of documentaries and town-hall discussions. Epix's "Under the Gun," debuting May 15 from executive producer Katie Couric and director Stephanie Soechtig, examines why those on opposite sides of stricter gun laws can't find common ground.

These follow a number of other in-depth projects, including a CNN town hall debate in January in which President Barack Obama discussed his gun control measures and proposals, and HBO's 2015 "Requiem for the Dead: American Spring 2014," which told the stories of some shooting victims from that period.

Even "CBS Sunday Morning," not typically hard-edged, devoted a 90-minute episode in March to "Guns and America," which included reports on the increasing number of female gun owners, a Chicago program that enlists veterans to help teenagers avoid gun violence, and the lingering impact of a childhood shooting.


Documentaries on the University of Texas at Austin campus shooting in 1966 and the aftermath of the 2012 Newtown, Connecticut, school attack are planned by PBS, with airdates yet to be announced.

We've arrived at "a tipping point, where this conversation isn't just immediately defined by the aftermath of mass shooting but there's a steady stream of conversation that's actually ratcheting up in terms of intensity," said Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

"Under the Gun" was one of several films on the subject screened at this year's Sundance Film Festival, including director AJ Schnack's "Speaking is Difficult." It's an ongoing film compendium of mass-shooting locations overlaid with related 911 calls.

"I think it's great that filmmakers are addressing this topic and are going to come at it from a bunch of different perspectives," Schnack said. "It gives people permission to ignite those conversations in their communities and with their families and elected officials."

The National Rifle Association did not respond to a request for comment on the wave of programming.

Driving the attention is both the shock of massacres and the nation's overall firearms toll: The U.S. gun homicide rate is 25 times higher than that of 22 other developed countries with similar income levels, according to a study published online in February in the American Journal of Medicine.

While the topic and its anger can be daunting, PBS has displayed a willingness to address it. The public TV service aired a weeklong exploration of Newtown and held town hall meetings after the 2014 Ferguson, Missouri, police shooting of Michael Brown and the 2015 church killings in Charleston, South Carolina.

"As a broadcaster, our intention is to provide programs that we think focus on the most critical issues facing our country," said Marie Nelson, PBS' vice president of news and public affairs. The two films airing next week as part of the "Independent Lens" series were carefully chosen, she said.

"Oftentimes, the discussion about gun violence is very weighted by the politics and noise that surround the issue," she said, while "The Armor of Light" and "Peace Officer" detail personal experiences and beliefs.

"Peace Officer," airing 9-10:30 p.m. EDT Monday and directed by Scott Christopherson and Brad Barber, profiles a former sheriff, William "Dub" Lawrence, who established Utah's first SWAT team. After the unit killed his son-in-law three decades later, he painstakingly examines the growing "militarization" of police in America.

"We want audiences to empathize with both sides and spend some time in their shoes, so they understand what it's like to be on a SWAT raid or be a citizen on the receiving end of those raids," Christopherson said.

"The Armor of Light," airing 8-9:30 p.m. EDT (check local listings for both films), focuses on two evangelical Christians with differing political views who both are confronting gun violence. One is the Rev. Rob Schenck, who questions whether being pro-life means opposing guns as well as abortion; the other is Lucy McBath, mother of a teenager shot to death in Florida.

"Where does conscience fit into the (gun control) conversation? Where does spirituality fit into the conversation?" said Abigail Disney, the film's director. "I can't think of a conversation that needs these things more."

The pre-taped town halls that follow each film were moderated by Michel Martin of National Public Radio, which will simulcast the discussions. The two-night event also will stream on pbs.org/armedinamerica, PBS said.

"It's so important for all of us as Americans who care about the safety of each other, and nobody is pro-gun violence," Couric said. "This is such a critical time to have a rational conversation."
Disney — the granddaughter of Roy O. Disney, brother of Walt Disney — echoed that call.

Start a conversation with those you may disagree with "and start it from the right place. Don't start it with statistics or legislation," she said. "Start it from your heart and your deepest beliefs."
AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr contributed to this report from Park City, Utah.

Recently Published by The Skanner News

  • Default
  • Title
  • Date
  • Random
  • WASHINGTON (AP) — One month after the inauguration, the stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of Donald Trump's White House still is a hard-hat zone. Skeletal remains of the inaugural reviewing stands poke skyward. Random piles of plywood and cables are heaped on the ground inside crooked lines of metal fencing. The disarray outside the president's front door, though not his fault, serves as a metaphor for the tumult still unfolding inside. Four weeks in, the man who says he inherited "a mess" at home and abroad is presiding over a White House that is widely described as itself being a mess. At a stunning pace, Trump has riled world leaders and frustrated allies. He was dealt a bruising legal blow on one of his signature policies. He lost his national security adviser and his pick for labor secretary to scandal. He's seen forces within his government push back against his policies and leak confidential information. All of this has played out amid a steady drip of revelations about an FBI investigation into his campaign's contacts with Russian intelligence officials. Trump says his administration is running like a "fine-tuned machine." He points to the rising stock market and the devotion of his still-loyal supporters as evidence that all is well, although his job approval rating is much lower than that for prior presidents in their first weeks in office. Stung by the unrelenting criticism coming his way, Trump dismisses much of it as "fake news" delivered by "the enemy of the people" — aka the press. Daily denunciations of the media are just one of the new White House fixtures Americans are adjusting to. Most days start (and end) with presidential tweets riffing off of whatever's on TV talk shows or teasing coming events or hurling insults at the media. At some point in the day, count on Trump to cast back to the marvels of his upset of Democrat Hillary Clinton in the November election and quite possibly overstate his margins of support. Expect more denunciations of the "dishonest" press and its "fake news." From there, things can veer in unexpected directions as Trump offers up policy pronouncements or offhand remarks that leave even White House aides struggling to interpret them. The long-standing U.S. policy of seeking a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Trump this past week offered this cryptic pronouncement: "I'm looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like. I can live with either one." His U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, the next day insisted, "We absolutely support a two-state solution." Trump's days are busy. Outside groups troop in for "listening sessions." Foreign leaders call or come to visit. (Or, in the case of Mexico's president, cancel out in pique over Trump's talk about the planned border wall.) After the president signed two dozen executive actions, the White House was awaiting a rush order of more of the gold-plated Cross pens that Trump prefers to the chrome-plated ones used by his predecessor. Trump hands them out as souvenirs at the signing ceremonies that he points to as evidence of his ambitious pace. "This last month has represented an unprecedented degree of action on behalf of the great citizens of our country," Trump said at a Thursday news conference. "Again, I say it. There has never been a presidency that's done so much in such a short period of time." That's all music to the ears of his followers, who sent him to Washington to upend the established order and play the role of disrupter. "I can't believe there's actually a politician doing what he says he would do," says an approving Scott Hiltgen, a 66-year-old office furniture sales broker from River Falls, Wisconsin. "That never happens." Disrupt Trump has. But there may be more sound and fury than substance to many of his early actions. Trump did select Judge Neil Gorsuch to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, a nomination that has drawn strong reviews from conservatives. But the president is regrouping on immigration after federal judges blocked his order to suspend the United States' refugee program and ban visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries, which had caused chaos for travelers around the globe. Some other orders on issues such as the U.S.-Mexico border wall and former President Barack Obama's health care law are of limited effect. Trump says his early actions show he means to deliver on the promises he made during the campaign. "A lot of people say, 'Oh, oh, Trump was only kidding with the wall,'" the president told a group of police chiefs recently. "I wasn't kidding. I don't kid." But the Republican-led Congress is still waiting to see specifics on how Trump wants to proceed legislatively on top initiatives such as replacing the health care law, enacting tax cuts and revising trade deals. The messy rollout of the travel ban and tumult over the ouster of national security adviser Michael Flynn for misrepresenting his contacts with Russia are part of a broader state of disarray as different figures in Trump's White House jockey for power and leaks reveal internal discord in the machinations of the presidency. "I thought by now you'd at least hear the outlines of domestic legislation like tax cuts," says Princeton historian Julian Zelizer. "But a lot of that has slowed. Trump shouldn't mistake the fact that some of his supporters like his style with the fact that a lot of Republicans just want the policies he promised them. He has to deliver that." Put Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in the camp of those more interested in substance than style. "I'm not a great fan of daily tweets," McConnell said Friday, referring to the "extra discussion" that Trump likes to engage in. But McConnell was quick to add: "What I am a fan of is what he's been actually doing." He credits Trump with assembling a conservative Cabinet and taking steps to reduce government regulation, and promised: "We like his positions and we're going to pursue them as vigorously as we can." The challenge may be to tease out exactly what Trump wants in the way of a health care plan, tax changes and trade policy. At his long and defiant news conference on Thursday, Trump tried to dispel the impression of a White House in crisis, squarely blaming the press for keeping him from moving forward more decisively on his agenda. Pointing to his chief of staff, Reince Priebus, Trump said, "You take a look at Reince, he's working so hard just putting out fires that are fake fires. I mean, they're fake. They're not true. And isn't that a shame because he'd rather be working on health care, he'd rather be working on tax reform." For all the frustrations of his early days as president, Trump still seems tickled by the trappings of his office. When New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie visited the White House last week to discuss the national opioid epidemic over lunch, the governor said Trump informed him: "Chris, you and I are going to have the meatloaf.'" Trump added: "I'm telling you, the meatloaf is fabulous." ___Follow Nancy Benac on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nbenac
    Read More
  • FDR executive order sent 120,000 Japanese immigrants and citizens into camps
    Read More
  • Pruitt's nomination was strongly opposed by environmental groups and hundreds of former EPA employees
    Read More
load morehold SHIFT key to load allload all