PBS to air Burns' national parks series next year

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) " Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns' new series celebrating America's national parks and detailing their history will air in fall 2009, PBS said Saturday.

"The National Parks: America's Best Idea," is a 12-hour, six-part film that traces the origins and growth of the national parks system over 150 years.

The series will feature Burns' trademark blend of archival photos, interviews and what PBS called "breathtaking images" of the national parks system. Tom Hanks, Andy Garcia and John Lithgow are among the actors who lend their voices to historical figures in the series. The narrator is actor Peter Coyote.

Those who fought to preserve the parks saw in them a "visual, tangible representation of God's majesty," Burns said in a statement released by PBS at a meeting of the Television Critics Association.

The series details the crass opportunism as well as the lofty ideals that became part of the national parks story, Burns said.

"The National Parks," produced by Florentine Films and public TV station WETA Washington D.C., is directed by Burns and produced by him and writer Dayton Duncan, who wrote a companion book for the series.

Burns, among the nation's highest-profile documentarians since his series "The Civil War" created a sensation, has agreed to air his work exclusively on PBS until 2022, the network said last year. His other films include "The War," a 14-hour series on World War II, and "Baseball," an 18 1/2-hour series on the sport's history.


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