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The Truth About Nonfiction

January 18, 2009 8:40 PM

In case you missed the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences’ Jan. 8 “What Is Nonfiction?” panel in North Hollywood, it’s now being streamed on the ATAS Web site, www.emmys.tv. Panelists for “What Is Nonfiction?” included what ATAS governor Daniel H. Birman, who produced the panel, dubbed the “rock stars of nonfiction”: HBO Documentary and Family President Sheila Nevins, TLC President and General Manager Eileen O’Neill, National Geographic Channel Executive VP of Content Steve Burns; History Executive VP and General Manager Nancy Dubuc; “American Masters” executive producer Susan Lacy; and “American Experience” executive producer Mark Samels. Surprisingly, the event drew a packed house, even though it wasn’t that long ago that nobody in Hollywood gave a hoot about nonfiction programming. “But things changed a little bit,” Mr. Birman said. “This poor stepchild of drama now probably employs half of this town … [making] us the new 800-pound gorilla.”

—Tom Gilbert

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