Adam sits down one-on-one to talk with Ken Burns about his latest documentary, ‘Baseball: The Tenth Inning.’ It’s a continuation of his previous Baseball documentary, and covers everything from 1992 to yesterday. Adam compliments Ken on several of his previous documentaries, and Ken talks about editing everything up until the last second. They also talk a bit about Mark Twain, and other documentaries they’ve enjoyed over the years.
Ken discusses growing up loving baseball, but realizing he knew very little about the sport. He says that he likes to look at each new project as an immersion into something new. He talks about his upcoming projects, including specials on the dustbowl era, prohibition, and the Vietnam war. Adam finds out more about the documentary process, and the guys talk about some of their favorite baseball moments. Ken says it’s crucial to tell a story when you make a documentary, and especially with baseball it has to be more than just statistics or who won.
After some discussion about the debilitating effects of steroids, Adam talks about his own career playing baseball in high school. This leads him into a story about filling in for Tommy Lasorda to be the Grand Marshall of Mardi Gras, and also an in depth comparison of baseball to softball.
Adam finds out more about a ‘normal day’ for Ken Burns, which seems to revolve around either being on the road promoting, or locked in an edit bay ‘trying to make something better out of the footage.’ Ken discusses how unique it is to have a series on PBS where you can have over two hours of uninterrupted content, and talks about how they raise money and research their topics. They also talk about some of the more complex themes that Ken has had to discuss over the years, and the ‘vow of poverty’ he took to become a documentarian.
One of Ken’s upcoming projects is about prohibition, but Ken says it’s really about right wing single issue campaigns that grow out of control. They talk about smear campaigns, and all the unintended consequences of prohibition; including organized crime, female alcoholism, and all sort of other social transformations. Ken also offers a reason for the world’s obsession with alcohol, and relates everything to escapism. Lastly, the guys discuss the sensitive subject of race issues here in America, and Adam is very impressed with Ken’s opinions and wealth of knowledge.
Executive Producer: Donny Misraje
Producers: Mike Dawson & Mike Lynch
Audio: Katie Levine
Writer: Mike Lynch
Build and Edit: Katie Levine
Show Summary: Matt Fondiler