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PBS Names Arts Head; "Playhouse" Goes Dark

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The man behind "Broadway '97: Launching the Tonys" is now behind all of the Public Broadcasting System's drama and performing arts programs. PBS has named Glenn DuBose, the producer of the Tony preview and lately managing director of Thirteen/WNET New York's cultural and arts programming department, as the network's new director of drama, performance, and arts programming.

The theatre-savvy producer attains his post, ironically, at a time when PBS is losing its most prominent theatre-related program: The network has decided to cease funding of "American Playhouse," citing the program's heavy financial demands and erratic ratings.

DuBose will oversee the drama and performing arts genres as well as cultural documentaries. His most recent handiwork, among the more than 60 programs he has produced for Thirteen/WNET, was "Broadway '97: Launching the Tonys," the one-hour awards and informational program which preceded CBS's two-hour network presentation of the Tony Awards. The PBS program--the network's first rendezvous with the Tonys--was widely regarded as a success.

"Everybody was very positive. Response was good, both from the participants and the press," DuBose told Back Stage. He said he hoped PBS would repeat its performance next year, but that much depended on CBS's involvement in the Tony broadcast. CBS's contract to present the consistently low-rated theatre awards show expired this year. And, although this year's Rosie O'Donnell-piloted program won higher-than-usual ratings, the renewal of the relationship is not a certainty.

Giving Drama a Look

DuBose will spend his first weeks on the job evaluating all of PBS's arts programing, both current and upcoming. He will then devise a plan for the next five years.

"I've been charged to figure out what we do have and what we're lacking in," said DuBose. "Certainly American drama is an area that I'd like to look at, given my background. Drama is a form that needs serious attention." DuBose also has a hand in the CBP Initiative, a program focusing on the dramatization of classical novels.

Prior to his Thirteen/WNET tenure, Dubose was an independent producer in New York City, the chairman of the drama department and humanities division at Chabot College in Hayward, Calif., and producer-director of California's Cabrillo Theatre Festival.

He was also executive producer of "City Arts," the New York-based weekly TV arts magazine which frequently covered the performing arts in 10-minute segments. DuBose won seven local Emmys for his work on that program.

Curtain Down on "Playhouse"

Whatever DuBose's plans for theatre-related broadcasting, they will not, for the time being, include "American Playhouse."

"For all intents and purposes, 'American Playhouse' is closing down," said Ward Chamberlain, vice president in charge of programming at WNET, and chairman of the board and executive producer of the drama series. Chamberlain said that funding for "Playhouse" had ceased, causing the 15-year-old program to close down temporarily. A few completed programs--including, most significantly, the nine-hour, real-life documentary "An American Love Story"--will air during the next two seasons under the series' banner. After that, though, the "Playhouse" will present no more.

Chamberlain said the program had become "too heavy a burden for PBS to carry" financially. Over the years, the series presented 204 programs, at a cost of $244 million. Additionally, noted Chamberlain, "American Playhouse" had performed "erratically" in the ratings.

Some noted "Playhouse" productions include Terrance McNally's "Andre's Mother," Frank Galati's adaptation of John Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath," Paul Auster's "The Music of Chance," and Armisted Maupin's "Tales of the City." The series was co-produced by Thirteen/WNET New York, WNET Los Angeles, and W

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