TCA: Matt Damon Gives History A Voice, WWII Is In HD


Nancy Dubuc, EVP/GM of History Channel, touted the network’s upcoming programming slate, emphasizing 10-part series WWII in HD and documentary film The People Speak, July 29 at the Television Critics Association summer press tour in Pasadena, Calif.

Dubuc said the network conducted a  two-year, worldwide search to obtain rare or unseen footage from WWII and convert it to high definition. WWII in HD relays the experience of the war through the eyes of 12 Americans who fought. Their stories will be voiced by well-know, modern day actors. Gary Sinise (CSI: NY) will narrate. The series is set to launch in the fourth quarter of 2009.

The People Speak is a documentary film based on Howard Zinn’s The People’s History of the United States. It will feature celebrities such as Josh Brolin, Marisa Tomei and Matt Damon chronicling the history of the country by dramatically reading  charter documents, letters, diaries and more from historic American figures. There will also be musical performances by Bruce Springsteen, Eddie Vedder, Allison Moorer and John Legend. The readings and musical performances will be woven together with archival footage and interviews. The two-hour film is set to air in the fourth quarter of 2009.

Damon, executive producer of The People Speak, was at History’s TCA panel to discuss the project.

“It’s an optimistic movie because it demonstrates how everyday citizens change the course of history and ultimately you have to reflect on what can you do,” he said. “We screened it at the Museum of Modern Art a few months ago…. It’s a very exciting and empowering experience.”

On pursuing the project for 10 years…

“It was the material. People have their own relationship to this book. I grew up next door to Howard. He has had a huge impact on my life. That’s why I stayed involved. From the moment we had any kind of influence in this town, we tried to get this project off the ground.”

On how far the project has come…

“I have flashbacks [to when it was at] Fox…We’d have meeting and at some point in the middle of these two-hour sessions, we asked if [they] really wanted this. [They ended up passing] Then we were at HBO. The concept at that point was let’s do stand-alone films and make each one a chapter… Eventually HBO just ran out of gas for us. So, this was this third incarnation, and it’s actually the most sensible way to do it.”

On what kept him going…

“I’m an actor. I’m used to be rejected.”