As you noted, Philadelphia has had a number of transitions from the Cradle of Liberty to the Biddle Age to the Workshop of the World to the Age of Reform under Richardson Dilworth and Joe Clark. What’s the next great transition for Philadelphia?
Now, Philadelphia’s emphasis is on its wonderful cultural assets – art, food, music, dance, etc. The Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Barnes Foundation and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and other arts, for example, are part of the city’s Miracle Mile.
If there’s to be a “New” Philadelphia my hope is that Philadelphia will be an international city. I hope, through this film and other projects, the city can have an “international” brand. I’m helping Philadelphia’s effort (through my chairmanship of USA250) to be the host of the Nation’s 250th year celebration in 2026. USA250 wants to promote events based on six pillars.
1. Democracy and Citizenship.
2. Metropolitan Sustainability.
3. Creative Spirit. Arts and Culture.
4. Competition, Teamwork and Sportsmanship.
5. Human Capital Investment.
6. Entrepreneurship and Innovation.
Philadelphia has had different tensions throughout its life. The heart of Penn vs. the mind of Franklin. Green Country Town vs. a City. Race and Religion. Neighborhoods vs. the City as a Whole. You’ve commented elsewhere on Competition vs. Collaboration. How do you incorporate those tensions in your film?
Yes, all of those tensions have made up the fabric of the city. We try to put an emphasis on story-telling in my feature episodes. I’m conscious that in the 21st century people watch television with a remote control and with a smart-phone. If we lose their interest, even for a second, the viewer will move elsewhere. The tensions are the stories that we try to capture. They’re what make the stories exciting.
What is the long-range plan for series?
We’ll have a full set of episodes, webisodes, shortcuts, and educational resources. Our principal outreach from that point forward will be digital. We have a very aggressive initiative to imbed the website history of Philly. We sometimes call it the Philadelphia History Channel, into other websites. Amy Cohen, our educational director is constantly outreaching to teachers and conducting professional training for how to use media in the classroom. We will continue to do community screenings which will enable us to have the entire history of Philadelphia available for whichever subjects or time frames audiences in different parts of the region may be interested in.
Chronologically, the aim is to cover 1600 to 1995. What’s left is 1871 to 1944. There are three episodes left. I don’t think we’ll try do anything to try to change it. We will put on a DVD box set. We will probably sell it. It will be online at no cost. Sets will show up in retail stores and online.