Iconic women who have transformed America, a comprehensive story that’s never been told
By Valerie Milano
Pasadena, CA (Hollywood Today) 2/26/2013 – “I’m particularly proud to present MAKERS because I feel that this is part of my story as well. I believe all women in America have lived some part of this story in one way or another. I realize that, as president and CEO of a major American television network, I would not have had this job 30 years ago. Now there are a number of women running channels and networks, and this is extraordinarily important and heartening. But I remember, as a girl, being aware that I didn’t have quite the same opportunities. But I also recognized that there were changes that were happening around me and that I envisioned a future in a much different way than my mother had or my grandmother had. So I feel a personal connection to this documentary and this project, and I know that many men and women, actually, will feel the same way” says Paula Kerger, President and CEO of PBS in a recent interview, with Hollywood Today, about presenting the MAKERS documentary this season. We’ve heard the individual stories of some of America’s most iconic women before but we’ve never heard how their struggles crossed paths or came together in their moments in history. Makers: Women Who Make America is a story 50 years in the making. The Civil Rights Movement inspired women everywhere to form their own movement to advance women’s rights. Until hearts, minds and laws started changing women’s jobs were only wives, mothers and housekeepers. It wasn’t until women like Gloria Steinem, Marlo Thomas, Aileen Clarke Hernandez, and Barbara Burns pushed the boundaries of what it meant to be a woman that the country started realizing that women were human and deserved the same basic rights as men.
This story emerged when Dyllan McGee, founder and executive producer of MAKERS, went to Gloria with the idea of creating a story on her life. Thankfully, she politely rejected McGee and said that there was a much bigger story; there was a collective that had never been told. McGee explains, “…I couldn’t believe it had never been told. And indeed, in researching it, no one had ever done this. So we partnered with PBS and AOL and Simple facial skincare, and we created this, “first of its kind” really, project in a digital first platform. We started a year in advance with a hundred interviews with groundbreaking women of all walks of life that we put online in these short two to three minute video segments. And that gave us a huge and ever growing collection that we then built the documentary from the bottom up. And the site launched a year ago. It has 1.5 million Americans are coming to it each month. We’ve had 35 million video views. And what’s exciting to all of you, and again almost half of our audience is men. And so we’ve been thrilled with that.”
Marlo Thomas, television groundbreaker of the 60s and 70s, discusses the importance of Makers: Women Who Make America, “You know, I think what’s important about this documentary, is that there are so many myths about what the women’s movement was about, what its goals were, what its intentions were, what they were fighting for. Women were not, I mean I was there, we were not fighting so that all women could leave their homes and go to work. We were fighting for choice, choice in every single situation: choice over our reproduction systems, choice over our education, choice over our health, choice over our worklife, choice over who we married if we chose to marry, choice over who we loved if we choose to love. So the myth is that in the Phyllis Schlafly book of mythology was that in fact we would all be standing side by side with men at urinals. But she was insistent we were going to end up doing that and that our daughters would be sent to the front lines to fight and, of course, that any woman who stayed home was a complete shame, that that was a bad choice. Feminists never, ever said that. And that’s why I love this documentary, because it really does set the record straight. What did we want? How did we fight for it? Where did we succeed? Where did we stumble? Where are we now? This is a myth that has driven me crazy for 40 years.”
Tune into this groundbreaking documentary tonight, 2/26 on PBS at 8pm PST.