Thinking Inside the Box | Column | 9/16/2011

Uploaded by MPTV1036 on 16.09.2011

Hi, Ellis Bromberg with more ?Thinking Inside the Box? on
We?ve urged you before not to miss the latest mini-series or documentary by Academy Award-nominated
filmmaker Ken Burns and his longtime associate Lynn Novick. You?ve enjoyed JAZZ and BASEBALL,
THE NATIONAL PARKS and of course THE CIVIL WAR ? and many others on Milwaukee Public
Television. These days, Burns and Novick are working on new films about the Dust Bowl,
the Roosevelts, Jackie Robinson, and the Vietnam War, which you?ll see in coming years.
But how about a program that covers: single-issue political campaigns, questions over the patriotism
of certain immigrant groups, suspicion about a presidential candidate?s religion, unfunded
congressional mandates, an attempt to legislate morality through an amendment to the Constitution,
and a group of people who feel they?ve lost control of their country and want to take
it back.
Sounds like the lineup on the nightly news ? but what it really is is a description of
PROHIBITION, the newest Burns-Novick three-part documentary series. I think it?s one of their
best, and it premieres Sunday night, October 2, at 7 o?clock on Channel 10.1.
It is a fascinating, uniquely American story ? well-told, I might add ? beginning in the
19th century when religion and morality start playing a significant role in politics. Alcoholism
was a growing problem in American society, bankrupting families, leading to abuse of
women ? and parallel to Women?s Suffrage, the Temperance movement evolved into the Prohibition
movement, which dealt with alcoholism in the most extreme way possible: the 18th amendment
to the Constitution prohibiting the manufacture and sale of liquor. And then, because of its
unintended consequences, the passage of the 21st amendment to repeal it just 14 years
later. It?s the only instance in U.S. history of the repeal of a Constitutional amendment.
The film also deals with the battle between urban areas and small towns, the rise of bootlegging
and racketeering, and the explosion of jazz music and speakeasies.
There is one line in the film which references four so-called ?wicked? companies: Schlitz,
Blatz, Miller, and Pabst. And when you hear it, you realize the disproportionate effect
Prohibition had on our city of Milwaukee. On I REMEMBER, host Jim Peck explores Prohibition
and Milwaukee with historian John Gurda. That?s Monday evening, October 3 at 6:30 on Channel
And one more event to mention ? I hope you?ll be able to join us for MPTV?s special Pre-PROHIBITION
party, Friday night, September 30, in the Miller Pub at the MillerCoors offices on Highland
Avenue, in Milwaukee ? featuring great food and drink from Saz?s and MillerCoors, and
flapper-era music by the Bootless Betties. It?ll be great fun ? and you can buy tickets
for it right here on
And I?ll be back soon with more ?Thinking Inside the Box.?