QUEST: Science and Sustainability from Wisconsin to the World

We are proud to be part of the QUEST public media project, because it gives us an opportunity to continue to go out and find stories of science and sustainability to share with our viewers. And, as a national project, those stories of good work being done in and around our state get shared with viewers across the country.

This Thursday night at 7, three all-new episodes of the series premiere on Wisconsin Public Television and they feature innovations and good work from Wisconsin in the preservation of forests and heirloom fruits and vegetables.

The first new episode of QUEST, “Keeping it Cool: Otters, Cars and Old Forests,” airs at 7 p.m. and features an in-depth look at an initiative aimed at exploring ways of building resilient forests in Wisconsin by looking to the forest-management processes followed by the state’s Menominee tribe. University of Wisconsin-Madison forestry professor David Mladenoff and his team’s research is featured in the segment produced by WPT’s Andy Soth.

Two additional QUEST episodes, featuring reports on bicycle technology, new energy possibilities and the future of bees broadcast at 7:30 and 8 p.m. The third episode at 8, “Wolves, Seeds and Bees” features another WPT report from La Crosse, where the La Crosse Public Library and librarians Cindy Mischnick and Kelly Becker have started a new program to save and share heirloom vegetable seeds in their community in an effort to help preserve genetic diversity in our food crops.

Watch both segments below and tune in to explore these topics and more from our QUEST partners across the country. Visit to find web exclusive reports and more.

Our friends at Wisconsin Public Radio are also part of the project and are airing a series of Wisconsin-based sustainability reports during Morning Edition and Central Time throughout the week. The Larry Meiller Show has also featured special talk-topics this week, including a discussion on the importance of electronics recycling. Listen to that report online now to learn why those outdated gadgets cluttering up your house should be recycled and where.

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Turn It Up! The Music of Muscle Shoals

Tonight at 9 on Wisconsin Public Television, Independent Lens takes us to the banks of the Tennessee River in Alabama and into the small nondescript home of FAME Studios. On the surface, it seems unlikely a place to make an impact in the broad spectrum of American music. But, what an impact it’s had. Don’t believe me? Then I suggest you settle in and watch the fantastic documentary tonight and hear from the likes of Aretha Franklin, Bono, Gregg Allman, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Percy Sledge about the music they made there and the influence that the tunes flowing from this small southern studio had on their lives and the soundtrack of ours.

Watch a quick preview of the film now and then scroll down to the bottom of this post, strap on your headphones and spin a Spotify playlist from our friends at Independent Lens of  just some of the hits that originated in Muscle Shoals from Etta James, Wilson Picket, the Rolling Stones, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Paul Simon, Otis Rush, Taj Mahal, Clarence Carter and more. You’ll be in the groove in no time, tapping your toes and wishing you were on that muddy river bank right now.

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‘Food Patriots’ Seeks Healthy Food for All

This week on Director’s Cut, I sit down with Jeff and Jennifer Spitz to discuss their documentary “Food Patriots.”

“Food Patriots” explores the idea of changing the food industry one purchase at a time by buying healthy, local and organic groceries. The idea is simple: the more healthy food you buy, the more suppliers see a demand and then hopefully healthy foods become more affordable to everyday ‘patriots.’


Jeff directed, Jennifer produced and their two sons went along for the ride. The story was inspired when their son Sam, a former Badger football player, got sick after eating chicken salad at a restaurant and almost died. The entire family now advocates for healthy eating. I think after watching this film, you will feel like you know this unique closely knit family.

Food Patriots Logo

Jeff and Jennifer got some really insightful interviews from experts, politicians and farmers. [Video Clip: Jeff and Jennifer talk about gaining access] They also followed a group of intercity farmers in Chicago that use abandoned lots to grow their own food.

Their subjects are inspiring leaders that don’t preach or insult ‘processed foodies’ but walk the walk and do what they believe in. This film has characters you really respect and can get behind, and leaves you with a smile on your face and an appetite for healthy eating. Not a bad way to start the weekend.

Meet the Spitz family Friday night on Director’s Cut. The interview, followed by the film, airs at 10 p.m. Hope to see you!

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The Address Still Resonates in Wisconsin and Beyond

Tonight at 8 on Wisconsin Public Television, Ken Burns’ new film, The Address,  explores the power that Abraham Lincoln’s 150-year-old Gettysburg Address has today in shaping the aspirations and achievement in a group of students grappling with learning challenges.

Anticipation of the film – and its message – sparked a new project that has grasped the minds of people across the United States and inspired them to record their own recitation of the address. That includes these 7th and 8th graders from Trinity Lutheran School in Oshkosh.

Now, you can join the “Learn the Address” project, too. Watch more videos of fellow Wisconsinites reciting Lincoln’s words at this link and upload your own video to be part of a nationwide collection that includes politicians, celebrities, artists, actors, students and folks just like all of us.

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Director’s Cut Returns for a Seventh Season

Still from the film Desperation Boulevard

Still from “Desperation Boulevard”

Tonight on Director’s Cut I’ll sit down with Greg Glienna, the writer-director of “Desperation Boulevard.” This is a funny movie about aging actress Joan Sweeney, former child star now trying to put herself back in the limelight and willing to do anything to be a star again. Comedian Judy Tenuta (Joan) is surrounded by a nice ensemble cast including Michael Lerner, hilarious as Joan’s agent.

I should add a disclaimer here that Greg is one of my writing partners. We co-wrote MGM’s “A Guy Thing” (Jason Lee, Julia Stiles, Selma Blair) as well as a few other scripts that are sitting on studio shelves collecting dust. Greg also started the “Meet the Parents” franchise. When he was a stand-up comic in Chicago he made “Meet the Parents” on a shoestring budget. Meet the Parents PosterAfter some critical acclaim, Universal Studios saw the film and remade it. Greg’s indie is hilarious and darker than the studio version with Ben Stiller, which Greg also co-wrote.

Greg also wrote and directed “Relative Strangers” with Danny DeVito, Kathy Bates, Ron Livingston and yours truly in a minor role as a meat delivery guy. ‘Strangers’ seems to air every hour on the hour on Comedy Central.

Greg has made a career out of putting characters in extremely awkward and funny situations – much to the delight of audiences. To Glienna, comedy is tragedy that happens to other people and “Desperation Boulevard” certainly has its share of hilarious awkwardness. Oh and by the way, if you look closely you’ll see me throwing Joan Sweeney out of the studio after a painful audition. That was my first actual role – if that counts as a role – after moving to L.A. Greg, if you’re reading this, I still haven’t seen dime in royalties!

Join us Friday night at 10 for Director’s Cut on Wisconsin Public Television for the first episode of our seventh season. Director’s Cut Presents follows at 10:30 with “Desperation Boulevard.” Hope to see you!

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