In recent years, controversies about death and dying have become more public, more frequent and seemingly more intractable. Should someone with a debilitating disease have the option to end his or her life? Should a spouse or parent of someone in a vegetative state have the ability to terminate medical care? If someone hasn't provided written instructions, who decides? Should it be legal for physicians to assist patients in dying? Or should they be prosecuted? What role, if any, should the government play in any of these decisions?
A new TV series is looking for first-person stories that shed light on how individuals have grappled with these issues, and how their experiences have tested or challenged their values and beliefs. Tentatively titled "Stories," the series will gather personal stories on a range of issues. It's being developed by Marc N. Weiss, creator of the long-running PBS series P.O.V. and Tom Yellin, an experienced network news and public affairs producer, and President of The Documentary Group.
This site will explore how our most personal experiences have shaped what we believe about death and dying, and about the decisions we make for ourselves, for loved ones, or for patients at the end of life. The site welcomes stories from patients, their families, loved ones and friends, and doctors and healthcare professionals.
This project has been created by Web Lab www.weblab.org, an online laboratory designed to use the Web to engage people in new ways on a wide range of public and private issues, in collaboration with The Documentary Group (www.thedocumentarygroup.com), a production company founded by the core members of PJ Productions following the death of their colleague and partner, legendary broadcaster Peter Jennings.
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Marc spent a lot of time in old media -- a lot of time -- before new media came along to make life interesting again. Beginning in 1969 -- and well into the 90's -- Marc was involved in the production, distribution, programming and promotion of independent documentaries. He created P.O.V., the award-winning public TV series, in 1987 and was its executive producer through 1995, when he founded P.O.V. Interactive, one of the first sites to experiment with what's now called Web 2.0 -- encouraging user-generated content.
A site Marc produced in 1996, Re: Vietnam: Stories Since the War received wide media coverage and was nominated for several international awards. Twelve years later, the site still comes up high on the list of Google search results for "Vietnam stories." Inspired by the success of that site as a meeting ground for people with widely divergent perspectives on the legacy of the war, Marc founded Web Lab in 1997.
In addition to his responsibilities at Web Lab, and involvement in several independent documentatries now in production, Marc is a development consultant to David E. Kelley Productions, originators of popular TV series such as Boston Legal, Allie McBeal, and The Practice.
Tom Yellin is the president and executive producer of The Documentary Group, a company that produces theatrical documentaries, primetime programs for ABC News, and documentaries for other broadcasters and distributors.
TDG’s recent credits include Frontline: Ten Trillion and Counting, which aired on PBS in March, 2009; China: Inside Out, an ABC News primetime special; Babyland, a special edition of 20/20 for ABC; and a series of educational videos for the The Annenberg Foundation. Last year, TDG’s Operation Homecoming was nominated for an Academy Award and STEEP, a film about the risk and exhilaration of big mountain skiing, was released by Sony Pictures Classics in over 100 movie theaters across the country.
Before the formation of PJ Productions, Tom was an executive producer at ABC News. He created the Peter Jennings Reporting series with Mr. Jennings in 1989. He was also the executive producer of “ABC 2000”, which featured 23 hours of millennium coverage. In 1999, he was the executive producer of the twelve-hour series “The Century”.
Tom was the executive producer of Day One, a primetime ABC News magazine, from 1991 thru 1995. Peter Jennings Reporting, Day One and Tom’s other programs have won numerous broadcast and journalism awards, including the Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia University Award, the George Foster Peabody Award, the News Emmy Award, the Gabriel Award and the Polk Award.
Before helping to create The Documentary Group, Kayce Jennings was Vice President of PJ Productions and also senior producer on documentaries including State of the Union and Out of Control: AIDS in Black America, a recipient of the George S. Peabody Award.
Kayce began her career in the early 1980s at ABC News in London. It was there that she first worked with Peter Jennings and Tom Yellin. A producer for Nightline, she covered Europe, the Middle East and Africa. In 1986, she relocated to ABC News’ Atlanta Bureau, where she concentrated on the southern United States, the Caribbean, Latin America and national politics. Two years later, when World News Tonight with Peter Jennings launched its ground-breaking series, "The American Agenda," Kayce was one of its pioneering producers, focusing on social policy issues. The work received numerous awards.
In 1993, she re-joined Tom Yellin as a producer on his prime time news magazine Day One, then moved to 20/20, working with anchor Barbara Walters and correspondents Lynn Sherr, Deborah Roberts, Bob Brown, among others. She left ABC News to help found PJ Productions and then, in 2006, TDG.
Kayce also has deep connections to the not-for-profit world, serving on the boards and working closely with a number of organizations.
Kayce was married to Peter Jennings, and is co-editor of the recently published oral biography Peter Jennings: A Reporter's Life.
Hannah Rosenzweig is a New York-based documentary filmmaker.
In 2006, she founded Intention Media Inc, a company that produces media on social and political issues. Intention Media’s clients include documentary film companies, non-profit organizations and political campaigns. She has worked on projects for the History Channel, the Sundance Channel and PBS. She has produced media for health organizations including the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Project Sunshine, Austin Child Guidance Center, Web Lab and Scenarios USA.
Hannah documented Hillary Clinton’s 2008 campaign for President and she is currently producing an independent film about a woman’s battle to change health care delivery for children in Italy after the death of her 13 year-old daughter. Hannah holds a Masters in Public Health (MPH) from Columbia University and a BA in History from Oberlin College. She has worked and studied in the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Brazil, South Africa, Mozambique and Italy.