WKAR Launches Cancer Project Bringing New Ken Burns Film to mid-Michigan

Jan 16, 2015

Ken Burns Presents Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies includes screening, story sharing and broadcast series.

Cancer patient Olivia

WKAR has launched a community engagement project in conjunction with the upcoming series from Ken Burns, Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies. The project in mid-Michigan includes story sharing, local resource information, a preview screening with community conversation, and broadcast of the six-hour series over three evenings this spring.

Ken Burns
Credit courtesy

Produced by Ken Burns and directed by filmmaker Barak Goodman,  Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies, will air March 30, 31 and April 1 on WKAR-HD, with additional broadcasts on WKAR World and online viewing via the WKAR video portal at video.wkar.org.

Siddhartha Mukherjee, author
Credit courtesy

Recently listed by the New York Times as one of "20 Shows to Watch this Winter," the series provides a comprehensive look at cancer, including its history, treatment, and research. It is based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning book by Siddhartha Mukherjee, M.D., The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer (Simon & Schuster 2010).

“Cancer touches nearly everyone in this country and public media can play a vital role in educating Americans about this disease,” says WKAR TV station manager Susi Elkins. “WKAR has a long-standing commitment to community engagement and bringing people together to explore issues that have an impact personally and collectively. We hope that by opening up discussion around this frightening disease, we can help patients, families and caregivers find the help and information that they need while trying to cope.”

Community partners joining WKAR in the project include American Cancer Society/Lakeshore Division, Karmanos Cancer Institute at McLaren Greater Lansing, MSU Breslin Cancer Center, MSU College of Nursing, and Sparrow Cancer Center [updated 2/9/15].

The WKAR project in mid-Michigan launches with an invitation to those who have been touched by cancer to share their story online via the Story Wall at cancerfilm.org, the national website for the film series.

WKAR will also be offering a resource guide to cancer-related services in mid-Michigan. The resource guide is expected to be available in early February.

In the week before the broadcast premiere, WKAR and partners will host a special preview screening with community conversation featuring a panel discussion with questions from the audience. The screening is tentatively scheduled for March 26, at WKAR.

As the March broadcast premiere draws near, mid-Michigan radio listeners are encouraged to tune in to 90.5 for related stories and features on WKAR's Current State (9 a.m. weekdays) and Morning Edition (5 a.m. weekdays) and All Things Considered (4 p.m. weekdays) from NPR.

Updates on the film and the outreach project in mid-Michigan will be available here at WKAR.org. The site will also feature links to cancerfilms.org, the series' website, which includes the Story Wall, plus digital short films produced by Ken Burns and features stories with actors Maura Tierney and Terrence Howard, among others. The website is intended for the vast cancer community of patients and survivors, family members, caregivers, scientists, clinicians and other health care providers, but also the public at large.

Social media connections include the Facebook page (www.facebook.com/CancerFilm) and Twitter (@CancerFilm or #CancerFilm).

Executive producer Ken Burns stated, “My work as a filmmaker is directly linked to the death of my mother from cancer when I was 11. From the age of three, I watched her suffer and struggle with this awful disease, forever creating for me a desire to explore the past and to listen deeply to the stories that we all have to tell.”

Barak Goodman
Credit courtesy

Barak Goodman, who in addition to directing the film serves as the series producer, observed, “This is such a rich, historic and still tragic story that it challenges us as filmmakers every day. But it is also a moment of great optimism that at last we may be turning the tables on this disease. I want people to come away from our film with less fear and more hope about the future of cancer.”

Series episodes will also be available for on demand viewing in the PBS App on Roku, XBox 360, Apple TV, on iPad/iPhone, and at video.wkar.org following each episode broadcast.

“Ken Burns Presents Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies, A Film by Barak Goodman” is made possible by project supporters Genentech, Cancer Treatment Centers of America, Siemens, David H. Koch, Bristol-Myers Squibb, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Kovler Fund, The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, the American Association for Cancer Research, the American Cancer Society, The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C), a program of the Entertainment Industry Foundation, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and PBS.