Anyone for Tennyson?

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2/26/2009
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Anyone for Tennyson? is a series of fifty programs of poetry-in-performance that ran nationally on the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) from 1976–1978. The winner of numerous awards, it was produced by the Nebraska Educational TV Network in Lincoln in association with the Great Amwell Company of New York City. Over the three seasons, more than 700 poems by more than 300 poets were presented. The program was built around The First Poetry Quartet consisting of Cynthia Herman, Jill Tanner, George Backman and Paul Hecht. Mr. Hecht's role was later played by Norman Snow and Victor Bevine. To this ensemble were added numerous guest stars including Henry Fonda, Jack Lemmon, Claire Bloom, Vincent Price, William Shatner, Irene Worth, James Whitmore, Fred Gwynne and Jim Dale. Programs were often shot on locations appropriate to the poets or poetic themes being presented. The Shakespeare program was filmed in and around Stratford-on-Avon and Wordsworth and Coleridge in England’s Lake District. Walt Whitman’s Civil War poetry was taped on the battlefield at Gettysburg, and American Indian Poetry was shot in Taos, New Mexico and the Black Hills of South Dakota. Producers and continuity writers for the series were William P. Perry and Jane Iredale. Marshall Jamison was executive producer and director of the majority of the programs with Ron Nicodemus also directing during the first season. Dr. Ron Hull was the executive-in-charge for the Nebraska Network, and Dr. Laurie Zwicky was the literary advisor. Dr. Zwicky also developed a college credit course built around the programs. Many of the programs have continued to be seen on video and DVD, including a four-hour DVD anthology called “The Poetry Hall of Fame” hosted by William Perry.
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