‘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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A Sesame Street Throwback Thursday

“Throwback Thursday” has become a thing on the Internet, so want to take part. Here’s one of the best ways we could think of to dive back in public television time.

Take a peek at this great photo from the very first cast of Sesame Street in 1969. Orange Oscar! Mister Hooper! Jim Henson and Frank Oz on the ground as Ernie and Bert! I love it! Want more? Watch the first season’s show open at the bottom of this post and sing along to the song that is still familiar after all these years.

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UW and Your Inner Fish

The new three-part series Your Inner Fish premieres tonight following all-new episodes of Nature and NOVA, and the series has strong connections to the University of Wisconsin. The executive in charge of the project is Sean B. Carroll, Allan Wilson Professor of molecular biology, genetics and molecular genetics at UW-Madison.

Additionally, John Hawks, associate professor of anthropology at UW-Madison, was an advisor to the series and UW-Madison graduate, Laura Helft, is a senior researcher at Tangled Bank Studios, the production company behind the series.

In a UW-Madison article, which details Carroll’s involvement in the series, Carroll discusses the series saying, ”There is a lot of discovery there, in the context of essentially how our bodies have modified over the years from our fishy ancestors.” Tonight’s episode, for example, traces the ancestry of our own hands and arms back to the fins of Tiktaalik, a primeval fish that crawled onto land.

University Place, Wisconsin Public Television’s lecture series, has recorded episodes with the other scientists involved with Your Inner Fish. In 2010, John Hawks talked on the existence of the Neanderthal during the course of human evolution. And in a 2011 lecture, then Ph.D. candidate Laura Helft gave a whirlwind tour of plant pathology called “When Microbes Attack, Plants Fight Back.”

The thought-provoking night of TV begins at 7 with all-new episodes of Nature and NOVA followed by the premiere of Your Inner Fish. If you need more reason to tune in tonight, I give you Chris P. Bacon, part of Nature “My Bionic Pet.”

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