No Degrees Of Kevin Bacon


Is public broadcasting still necessary? On that subject, there are apparently no degrees of separation among the unlikely trio of Kevin Bacon, Barbara Bush and Jimmy Carter.

Those are just three of the luminaries who will offer video valentines to PBS and NPR for a new campaign from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), the body that doles out federal money to noncom broadcasters.

The campaign, which CPB is encouraging stations to join by collecting and sharing their own testimonials, comes on the heels of Congress’ proposed 50% cut to CPB’s budget and a provocative New York Times story that questioned the necessity of publicly-funded arts and news programming in a diverse multichannel universe. (A CPB source, however, says the campaign has been in the works for more than year; the proposed cut and Times story just provided “a good news hook” for the unveiling.)

With the tagline “My Source,” the spots feature the likes of developer Steve Wynn and country star Brad Paisley explaining why PBS or NPR is their source for inspiration or education or entertainment.

Bacon, for example, is apparently a big fan of Charlie Rose, and talks about knowing he had really made it as an actor when Rose interviewed him on his show.

Actress Julia Stiles and documentary filmmaker Ken Burns—who certainly can count PBS as a source of fame and fortune—also will appear.

The videos are still being edited for debut at an annual CPB leadership conference, where even more will be taped, and will air on member stations during pledge week and breaks in primetime programming.  They will be aggregated on a web site,,  for uploading and sharing among stations. The site launches a beta test this week. CPB will also make an online “testimonial collection tool” available for stations to put on their sites and collect their audio, video, and text, but it will not be up and running until next month.