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Two More ‘Journey’ Specials Ordered

Mar 8, 2004  •  Post A Comment

NBC Enterprises has ordered two new half-hour specials of the growing nationally syndicated franchise “The Remarkable Journey.” This is the first season for “Journey” under the NBC Enterprises umbrella, where it is now being produced by Access Entertainment News Productions, the production company behind entertainment newsmagazine “Access Hollywood,” which NBC Enterprises distributes.

The addition of the two specials raises the projected season output to four one-hours and two half-hours. The current, second special is cleared in 83 percent of the country.

The syndicated specials were handled by Hearst-Argyle Television until that company shuttered its Boston production facility last June. At that point NBC Enterprises took over the specials franchise, which was hosted by NAACP President and CEO Kweisi Mfume. “Access Hollywood’s” Shaun Robinson has since been added as a co-host.

The specials focus on people who have excelled in medicine, politics, education, sports, literature or entertainment despite barriers.

The two new 30-minute specials recount moments in history that have had an impact on generations of Americans. The first special, “A Change Is Gonna Come: Landmark Decision-Brown vs. Board of Education,” is timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the end of legalized racial segregation in public schools. The special will debut between May 31 and June 27 on local TV stations across the country. It originates from New Orleans, Topeka, Kan., and Baltimore.

The second special will be timed to coincide with the opening of the National Freedom Center in Cincinnati. “Ticket to Freedom: The Story of the Underground Railroad” will premiere between July 19 and Aug. 13 in syndication and is designed to give voice to risks of the unsung heroes of the Underground Railroad.

“The people at `Access’ clearly have put their heart and soul behind producing these specials and telling these important stories,” Mr. Mfume said. “Ed Wilson and NBC Enterprises have helped raise this project to another level, and there have been a lot of stations who have supported us for a long time who helped make this possible.”

Meanwhile, series co-creator Emerson Coleman, VP, programming, Hearst-Argyle Television, has confirmed that the Hearst-Argyle stations will run “The Remarkable Journey” programs in either prime time or prime access.

“We wanted to make a statement on the importance of these shows,” he said. “We think we’ll have some of our colleagues contribute in that same manner and upgrade the programs from where they have existed before. We are asking stations to not just throw it on a weekend morning and instead work on making access available for this show.”

In addition, the show will produce a series of vignettes to begin airing in April to not only tell a story but also serve as a promotional opportunity for stations and drive people to the show’s new Web site.