Q&A with Jim Weiner – May 2023

Q&A with Jim Weiner – May 2023

Our Chief Programming Officer Jim Wiener gets asked a LOT of questions, not just by us, but by all of you as well. Once in a while, he likes to sit down and pick a few particularly special questions and answer them for everyone to see. Here is Jim’s latest Q&A with you, the viewers.

We watch the PBS NEWSHOUR every night.  They have the best news reporting.  HOWEVER, we miss the Monday night political discussion with Amy Walters and Tamara Keith very much.  We are disappointed that it has been discontinued since Amna and Geoff took over.  What happened?

Lawrence A., Salem Heights

Timing is everything since your email arrived about a half hour before the return of the Politics Monday crew on April 10.  We also received the news earlier that day from the NEWSHOUR…

A note from Sara Just, Senior Executive Producer:

Dear NewsHour and Politics Monday fans:

We want to thank you for your patience with adjustments to our coverage over the last few months. We hit “pause” on Politics Monday at the start of the year as we tried to ease into the 2024 election cycle. But we have decided that the time has come to “un-pause.” We are delighted to welcome Amy Walter of ‘The Cook Political Report with Amy Walter’ and Tamara Keith of NPR back to the PBS NewsHour tonight, Monday, April 10th.

During this period, we hope you have had a chance to see our friends Amy and Tam as guests on the program to comment on news of the day. We plan to air Politics Monday segment now more frequently as the campaign picks up speed in the coming months.

Last week, we were pleasantly surprised to see Politics Monday return on the PBS NEWSHOUR.  Now, it’s gone. Don’t understand. Do you have an explanation?

Ed C., Hyde Park

D’oh!!   To paraphrase Al Pacino in GODFATHER III:  “Just when I thought they were BACK… they PULL THEM OUT AGAIN!!”

I should have sent you Sara Just’s missive above.  “We plan to air Politics Monday segment now more frequently as the campaign picks up speed in the coming months.” 

So maybe around the mid-terms, Tamara and Amy appeared EVERY Monday, but that won’t be quite the case for a few months.

-Jim Wiener, Programmer

Regarding the series MY GRANDPARENTS’ WAR, I have watched two episodes, and I think the series is tremendous.  I am glad someone thought of having people do research on what their grandparents did during World War II.  Thanks so much.

Linda H., Cincinnati

Glad you enjoyed it.  It’s a smart variation on the FINDING YOUR ROOTS theme.  The first season of MY GRANDPARENTS’ WAR premiered in April of 2021 with just four episodes, and it took another two years… to get another four episodes. 

Hmm.  Clearly the Brits aren’t exactly cranking these out like there’s a war on, but they’ve always been bigger on quality than quantity.  Either that, or they’re facing an acute celebrity shortage.  The first batch was solid with Helena Bonham Carter, Mark Rylance, Kristin Scott Thomas and Carey Mulligan.

Season 2?  Kit Harrington, Keira Knightley, Emeli Sande and Toby Jones.  I love Toby Jones, but other than Ms. Knightley, the star power in year 2 fell off a bit. 

If we have to wait another two years for Season 3, only to get Graham Norton and Russell Brand, I’m filing a complaint.

I had the good fortune of inheriting my father’s WWII scrapbook.  He was in the Army Air Corps in North Africa and up through Italy, supervising crews that loaded bombs and ammo onto B- 17’s.    He was lucky to rarely—if ever– get into harm’s way (and his generation wouldn’t have talked about it anyway).  He  married my mother (a field hospital nurse) in Florence right around Germany’s surrender.   

25 years later, they watched Robert Altman’s movie, M.A.S.H, very controversial in its day for graphic violence, sex and anti-war stance.  My mother, who didn’t like any movie more tawdry than the SOUND OF MUSIC, loved it!  Needless to say, the old man didn’t see THAT coming!  


Is there any chance that THE MAGIC SCHOOL BUS will ever be replayed?  Our son is grown, but it was a favorite.  As a scientist, I loved the way it presented scientific information to children in an understandable format.

Susan M., Franklin

Well, one can never say never, but there are factors that would prohibit this.

Closed captioning is now a requirement for all programs on our air.  This series had 52 episodes and a one hour holiday special.  No captions.  The cost to embed those would be considerable, as would extensive content review (what’s dated) and payment to actors and crew that took part in the production. 

The series is from the late 1990’s, and may look dated or have a pace that is slower by today’s standards.

This was a great series for school-aged kids, but the number of those series in the PBS Kids arsenal (as opposed to pre-school) may be in less demand now.  School-age kids have migrated to the web.

MAGIC SCHOOL BUS would be a viable candidate for a remake, like ELECTRIC COMPANY.   I’ll see PBS folks at a meeting in just over three weeks, so I can raise the question with them.