The Watchman: Red Sox Legend Williams Gets PBS Close-Up, CW Imports Legal Drama From Canada

Deputy editor Michael Malone's weekly look at the programming scene
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WNET’s American Masters series offers an extreme close-up of Boston Red Sox slugger Ted Williams when Ted Williams: The Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived premieres on PBS July 23. “Ted was a much more complicated person than the cardboard cutout we’ve all been handed down,” director/producer Nick Davis said. “He had a huge heart.”

(Note: if you have a cardboard cutout of Ted from his rookie year, you have a huge check coming.)

Ted Williams

Ted Williams

Davis noted how Teddy Ballgame spoke out, during his Hall of Fame induction, in favor of Negro Leagues players being considered for the Hall. “He was to the right of Attila the Hun, except for civil rights,” Davis said.

Big Papi Productions, TV arm of former Sox standout David Ortiz, co-produced the documentary. Those talking about Ted include Wade Boggs, Joey Votto and Bob Costas. Costas said Williams still has a ton of respect from today’s players, many who consult his book The Science of Hitting for tips. “Many are well aware of what Ted calls his approach to hitting,” Costas said. “It’s a very scientific approach.”

Costas describes how players in the 1999 All-Star game gathered around Williams. “The level of respect and reverence was incredible,” he said.

Jon Hamm narrates the film. How do you get Jon Hamm involved in your project? “Like how you get the prettiest girl to go to the dance with you,” Davis replied. “You ask.”

On July 25, Burden of Truth starts on The CW. It’s a Canadian show, set in Manitoba. It stars Kristin Kreuk, who leaves a career as a partner in a corporate law firm to solve the case of a mysterious illness affecting female high schoolers in her hometown.

Creator Brad Simpson, who’s from Toronto, said Burden of Truth won’t look overly Canadian to U.S. viewers.

"Burden of Truth"

"Burden of Truth"

“The area feels like the prairie,” he said. “It’s a small mill town, hard-working, blue collar. It feels like Middle America.”

Simpson went to law school in New York, so the legal terms won’t feel off kilter either. “It shouldn’t feel like a foreign story,” he said.

Kreuk, alumnus of CW series Smallville and Beauty & the Beast, is an executive producer.

Simpson (no relation to Brad Simpson, creative force behind The People vs. O.J. Simpson) said he sought a “new take” on legal dramas. “A lot of them are set in law firms or courtrooms,” he said. “In my experience, all the discoveries, the a-ha moments, in a case happen outside the courtroom.”

Simpson actually cites The People v. O.J. as an influence, for breaking up the landmark trial episodically, and Friday Night Lights, too. “We always try to get the Friday Night Lights vibe into our show,” he said.

More from Lead-In: Nets Post Price Gains in Upfront DealsComcast Calls Off Its Fox Asset Hunt

WNET’s American Masters series offers an extreme close-up of Boston Red Sox slugger Ted Williams when Ted Williams: The Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived premieres on PBS July 23. “Ted was a much more complicated person than the cardboard cutout we’ve all been handed down,” director/producer Nick Davis said. “He had a huge heart.”

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