Philanthropy Saves “Eyes on the Prize”

I’m unsure of how or why I missed this news, but I am glad to read (per The Chutry Experiment) that the groundbreaking civil rights documentary Eyes on the Prize will begin airing again in Fall 2006. As CopyCense posted in January 2005, the documentary had not been broadcast for more than a decade (nor had it been made available on DVD) because the licensing rights to its massive aggregation of archival film had lapsed in the mid-1990s.

But last summer, Wired News reported that the Ford Foundation and a philanthropist Richard Gilder granted $850,000 to save the project. The money will go toward licensing fees and post-production work. (It also is likely that the footage and the masters tapes will have to undergo some level of professional archival and preservation work, since the 14-part series first aired in 1987.)

According to the Wired News article,

The task of reacquiring rights [to still photos, video footage and music] has fallen on [Blackside lawyer Sandy] Forman and a team of film industry veterans who worked on the Eyes series. They have a formidable job ahead: Blackside used video footage from 82 archives, and approximately 275 still photographs from about 93 archives. About 120 song titles were used as well.

In January, PBS announced that the series would be rebroadcast on the station’s American Experience program.

Perhaps the only sad aspect to this story is that Henry Hampton, the president of Blackside, Inc. (the production company that created Eyes on the Prize) will not see the renewed broadcasts; Hampton died in 1998. He was 58. A 35,000 item collection of Hampton’s work and materials he used to make Blackside’s films is being preserved by the Washington University Library in St. Louis.

The Chutry Experiment. Eyes Back on the Prize. March 25, 2006.

Katie Dean. Cash Rescues Eyes on the Prize.” Wired News. Aug. 30, 2005.


Catherine Foster. Rights Renewed, ‘Eyes on the Prize’ Returns. May 26, 2006.

CopyCense™: K. Matthew Dames on the law, business, and technology of digital content. A business venture of Seso Digital LLC.

Written by sesomedia

03/27/2006 at 07:55

Posted in Uncategorized

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