Critically-acclaimed series from Playtone, Herzog & Co. explores the decade that changed everything
From the Cold War to the war in Vietnam, to the struggles for equality in America’s courtrooms and streets, the assassinations of JFK, MLK, Malcolm X, and RFK, the new politics, music, fashion, and technology of the 1960s reflected a period of monumental social and political change. As the youngest of the “Baby Boom” generation, and several momentous events in the pivotal decade – , including the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Gulf of Tonkin incident, and the Beatles appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show – turn 50 in 2014, THE SIXTIES on CNN takes a close look at the people, events, and discoveries that defined how Americans came to think about their government, their place in the world, and themselves.
Executive produced by multiple Emmy® award-winning producers Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman (HBO’s John Adams and The Pacific) of Playtone, and Emmy® award-winning producer Mark Herzog (History’s Gettysburg) of Herzog & Co. (HCO), the landmark era of the 1960s is explored through their provocative and compelling 10-part CNN Original Series, THE SIXTIES, launching on Thursday, May 29, at 9:00pmET and PT.
“The 1960s represents different things to different people, but those turbulent years were undeniably consequential – altering virtually every aspect of modern American life for the generations that have come afterwards. Given their extraordinary series capturing American revolutionary history and World War II, Playtone and HCO are perfect for a production of this broad scope and tremendous ambition,” said Amy Entelis, senior vice president of talent and content development for CNN Worldwide.
Launching with the one-hour special, THE SIXTIES: Television Comes of Age, and continuing for nine consecutive Thursdays, the arc of this sweeping series flows from the ubiquitousness of the new medium of television that documented the decade, traces the most tumultuous years of the freedom movements and the war, illuminates the significance of the triumphant lunar landing, and ends with the Boomers’ countercultural takes on music and mores:
- 5/29: Television Comes of Age (1960 – 1969) – Americans gathered around “the tube,” to be informed and entertained by the news, The Twilight Zone, The Fugitive, I Dream of Jeannie, Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In, and more. Tom Hanks, Sally Field, Dick and Tom Smothers, Carol Burnett, Dick Cavett, Diahann Carroll, Carl Reiner, Vince Gilligan, Petula Clark and others describe how the ground-breaking, rule-breaking, norm-bending dramas, historical events, and sitcoms reflected and influenced who we were. (TRT 60min)
- 6/05: The World on the Brink (1960 – 1963) – The heady days of Camelot were clouded by the political and military tensions between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. Marvin Kalb, Richard Reeves, Robert Dallek, Sergei Khrushchev and more explain how close the Bay of Pigs and Cuban Missile Crisis brought us all to World War III – and how two nuclear superpowers moved from near confrontation to the Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. (TRT 60min)
- 6/12: The Assassination of President Kennedy (1963 -1969) – Max Holland, Robert Dallek, Mark Lane, Robert Caro, Alexandra Zapruder, Vincent Bugliosi, members of the Warren Commission staff, and others trace the timeline of events leading up to that November day in Dallas, and try to explain why the investigations, media coverage, and personalities associated with the tragedy remain so compelling and controversial. (TRT 120min)
- 6/19: The War in Vietnam (1961 – 1968) – From just several hundred advisors at the start of the decade, to more than 550,000 American troops by the end of it, the escalation of the war in Vietnam – and the fighting and the dying – brought social and political polarization back home. It was also televised – and, the more Americans saw of the war, the more unpopular the conflict became. Tim O’Brien, Fredrik Logevall, Karl Marlantes, Neil Sheehan, Andrew Bacevich, George Herring, Tom Hayden, and Philip Caputo discuss the Gulf of Tonkin, and LBJ, for this most complex of American stories. (TRT 60min)
- 6/26: A Long March to Freedom (1960 – 1968) – Selma, Birmingham, and the March on Washington are reexamined by eyewitnesses to history. Diane Nash, U.S. Rep. John Lewis, U.S. Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, Rev. C.T. Vivian, Bob Moses, Diane McWhorter, Taylor Branch, David Garrow, and Isabel Wilkerson give critical context to the lunch counter sit-ins, Freedom Rides, Freedom Summer, integration, and the Children’s Crusade for the moral mission of the Civil Rights Movement. (TRT 120min)
- 7/03: THE SIXTIES – EPISODE MARATHON
- 7/10: The British Invasion (1964 – 1967) – “The lads from Liverpool” led a musical cultural exchange that impacted everything from fashion to sexual mores to politics. Graham Nash, Smokey Robinson, Dave Clark, Michelle Phillips, and Mickey Dolenz recall what it was like to make the music that mirrored the souls of the young and the restless. Jann Wenner, Nelson George, David Wild, Tom Hanks, and Mikal Gilmore describe how The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, The Dave Clark Five, The Animals, The Who, and others reinterpreted and reintroduced American music to Americans – and how the song sheets of the Boomers did so much more than provide a soundtrack for the generation of change. (TRT 60min)
- 7/24: The Space Race (1960 – 1969) – Astronaut and NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, astronauts Buzz Aldrin, Mike Massimino and Dave Scott, and Walter Issacson, Douglas Brinkley, Tom Wolfe, Andy Chaikin, and Tom Hanks describe the greatest adventure story of all time. The “giant leap” pushed the boundaries of exploration to an unprecedented frontier, inspiring inventions and imaginations around the world for generations. (TRT 60min)
- 7/31: The Times, They are A-Changin’ (1960 – 1969) – Gloria Steinem, Robert Kennedy, Jr., former U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, Cecile Richards, Marlo Thomas, Douglas Brinkley, and Gail Collins discuss how feminism, civil rights, environmentalism, conservatism, and the gay rights movements were fueled by deep yearnings for freedom by a generation unwilling to wait. (TRT 60min)
- 8/07: 1968 (1968) – Tom Hayden, Gloria Steinem, Lance Morrow, Evan Thomas, Dan Rather, Morley Safer, Tim Naftali, and Mark Kurlansky discuss how one of the most dramatic years in American history was punctuated by a Soviet incursion into Czechoslovakia, devastating assassinations, turning points in the wars in Southeast Asia, a decisive and televised end to the Johnson Administration, violence at the Democratic National Convention, and the election of President Nixon. (TRT 60min)
- 8/14: Sex, Drugs, and Rock N’ Roll (1960 – 1969) – American culture changed fundamentally from the beginning to the end of the 1960s as the tastes, morals, and politics of the Baby Boomer generation came to define America. Jann Wenner, Grace Slick, David Wild, Leonard Steinhorn, Tom Wolfe, Douglas Brinkley, Tom Hanks, and more describe how beatniks, Haight-Ashbury, Andy Warhol, Timothy Leary, hippies, and Hell’s Angels became counter-cultural touchstones that still resonate today. (TRT 60min)
The premiere of THE SIXTIES on CNN/U.S. on May 29 follows the strong ratings successes of two earlier special presentations from this wide-ranging series. The Assassination of President Kennedy aired in November of 2013, as part of CNN’s commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the nation’s 35th president, and was seen by 21.0 million total viewers, with 8.2 million viewers in the coveted 25 to 54 age demographic group. The British Invasion aired in February 2014, to mark the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, and was seen by 14.5 million total viewers, with 5 million viewers in the 25 to 54 age demographic. Both episodes will encore during the 10-episode run of THE SIXTIES as the network revisits the decade’s indelible impact on civil rights, music, technology, politics, and pop culture – bringing new insights to the landmark events and extraordinary people that shaped our history and character as Americans – and changed the world. Viewers can find more information on THE SIXTIES by visiting www.cnn.com/thesixties and by following @CNNOrigSeries via Twitter.
About CNN Originals and CNN Worldwide
CNN develops original content through strategic partnerships and commissioned productions for television. Amy Entelis, senior vice president of talent and content development for CNN Worldwide, and Vinnie Malhotra, senior vice president of development and acquisitions for CNN Worldwide, oversee the acquisition strategy of documentaries for CNN. Malhotra manages the day-to-day operations and works directly with filmmakers to develop original projects. Other CNN Original Series include Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown, Morgan Spurlock’s Inside Man, Chicagoland, and Death Row Stories.
CNN Worldwide is a portfolio of two dozen news and information services across cable, satellite, radio, wireless devices and the Internet in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide. Domestically, CNN reaches more individuals on television, the web and mobile devices than any other cable TV news organization in the United States; internationally, CNN is the most widely distributed news channel reaching more than 271 million households abroad; and CNN Digital is a top network for online news, mobile news and social media. Additionally, CNN Newsource is the world’s most extensively utilized news service partnering with hundreds of local and international news organizations around the world. CNN is division of Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., a Time Warner Company.