Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

`Cold War' Captures Epic Story

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

`Cold War' Captures Epic Story

Article excerpt

For some viewers, the only history lessons they tolerate each

week are those inane Jane Pauley questions on MSNBC's Time &

Again: "Tony Orlando topped the charts and J.R. Ewing almost

bought the big one on Dallas. What year was it?"

Most of us prefer a little more depth, which is one reason

A&E's Biography series has such a loyal following. (Is it just

me, or have there been way too many titles lately like The Fatal

Attraction of Adolf Hitler ?) Cable's The History Channel is

proof there is interest enough for an entire network.

It's not overstatement to call Cold War, currently airing on

CNN, a landmark historical record. Starting with last night's

debut and continuing in 23 one-hour episodes at 8 p.m. Sundays

until the April 4 conclusion, the production is billed as the

most important production of CNN's 18 years on the air. Like

PBS' Vietnam: A Television History, it captures an epic story

with exhaustive research and focus on both the people and the


Actor Kenneth Branagh narrates Cold War, which sets out to

challenge the simplistic notion of two superpowers grappling at

the edge of a nuclear precipice. While Part 1 laid the

groundwork for the U.S.-Soviet Union standoff, subsequent

episodes trace the division of the planet.

John F. Kennedy, Fidel Castro, Henry Kissinger and Mikhail

Gorbachev are discussed, the latter responding to unscripted

questions. Former U.S. Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and

George Bush are among those interviewed, as well as such

top-ranking Communists as Gen. Wojceich Jaruzelski, who, in

1981, imposed martial law on Poland. Union leader and later

President Lech Walesa tells of his country's battle to overthrow

Communist rule.

But filmmakers are also careful to include the ordinary people

on the front lines between the Cold War years designated as 1945

to 1991. Among those who survived the Cold War and tell their

stories are soldiers in Afghanistan, factory workers in Germany,

peasants in Greece, anti-war protesters in the United States and

Gulag prisoners in Siberia.

The idea to do Cold War came from CNN founder Ted Turner during

the 1994 Goodwill Games in St. Petersburg, Russia. The directive

was to chronicle the conflict between East and West during the

46-year span and how it has impacted the world. The production

incorporates archival footage as well as hundreds of hours of

new tape. More than 500 interviews were conducted.

Part of the educational outreach is an interactive companion on

the Internet, The Web site allows users to find

and research further information, from archival documents to

transcripts of key interviews. Users will get a glimpse of the

current mood at key Cold War locales. Maps, time lines,

bibliographies and profiles of players and organizations will

also be available.

Turner, appearing at this summer's network press tour, said he

has always been a student of history. And one of the areas that

interested him was looking at the Cold War from an unbiased

viewpoint. …

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