Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Living between Two Worlds Makes for Powerful Show

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Living between Two Worlds Makes for Powerful Show

Article excerpt

JUNE Cross' story sounds like "Ricki Lake," but it makes an impressive "Frontline."

Born to a white mother who gave her up and a black father she never knew, Cross grew up between two worlds, living most of the year with a black family in Atlantic City, N.J.

Then, in the summer, young June went to Hollywood, where she spent time with her mother and stepfather, actor Larry Storch. Even then, though, her mother never acknowledged that June was her child. Cross is now a "Frontline" producer, and she exposes both her old wounds and her hope for healing in an absorbing two-hour installment called "Secret Daughter" (9 tonight on Channel 9). "This is my mother's house in Los Angeles," Cross explains in the program's opening. "I'm here to talk her into something that may be against her own best interests. I want her to go on national television to tell the world she is my mother." From that beginning, "Secret Daughter" goes on to explore not just Cross' search for identity but also the emotions of race in America, from the black club circuit of the 1940s to the O.J. Simpson trial. Cross also bares her own emotions, and her mother finally begins to talk frankly about the pressures (what Storch calls "the interracial thing") that led her to disavow her child. Talking frankly about race is what Cross hopes viewers will all do after seeing "Secret Daughter." "The challenge for every one of us is to keep this conversation going," she says. Great photos, cute animals, life-and-death struggles - must be a National Geographic special. "Okavango: Africa's Savage Oasis" (7 p.m. Wednesday on Channel 5) more than lives up to expectations, with especially gorgeous photography, particularly handsome critters and a compelling theme: How the ebb and flow of the Okavango River in southern Africa shapes life in its delta. Photo buffs will be interested to know that the beauty of "Okavango" is due in part to the decision of producers Tim and June Leversedge to shoot in 35-mm format. It's a first for a National Geographic nature special, and meant dragging bulky and sensitive equipment into swamps and out of the path of a wildfire. …

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