Friday, April 2, 2010

"Who Do You Think You Are" Renewed for a Second Season

It's official -- according to a press release on Dick Eastman's Genealogy Blog, "Who Do You Think You Are?" Renewed for a Second Season. The announcement was made today by Paul Telegdy, Executive Vice President, Alternative Programming, NBC and Universal Media Studios. 

"All of these new series have demonstrated increasing popularity and generated far-reaching interest among viewers," said Telegdy.

The original, British version of the show, which premiered in 2004, is now on its eighth series, prompting a huge surge of interest in genealogy in that country.


Saturday, March 27, 2010

A Little Perspective

A recent article on by noted genealogists Sharon Tate-Moody, "New TV show inspires, but remember: It's TV," offers some perspective, especially for beginning researchers, on the current, "Who Do You Think You Are," television series. As the author points out, it all looks so easy, "celebrities do seem to find their forefathers without a lot of effort," but, hey, this is television. "Many hours, days, weeks, perhaps months, went into finding the materials culled into the hourlong (minus commercial time) episodes." The article offers a few practical pointers for new researchers, balancing "real" reality from TV reality.

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Friday, March 12, 2010

All Things Irish

Included here in honor of St. Patrick's Day, those interested in Irish genealogy may enjoy The The Small-Leaved Shamrock blog, selected by Family Tree Magzine as one of the top 5 heritage blogs. Focused on the author's personal family history, this blog links to others of the author's blogs, including the Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture blog, of more general interest.

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Beating the Search Engines and Inside "Who Do You Think You Are"

The ProGenealogist Blog this week, "Be Smarter Than a Search Engine," provides tips for combating the limitations of some search engines. It is hard sometimes to find just the right keyword; in many cases, you know the information should be there, but how to get to it is another question. And we'd all like to learn more about how to pull out those hidden bits and pieces we don't even know about.

As a side note, ProGenealogists in its March 3 blog revealed the company's involvement in the NBC production of "Who Do You Think You Are," and ProGenealogist CEO Natalie Cottrill appeared in the first episode with Sarah Jessica Parker. The blog offers a video of this first segment and indicates it will be posting "individual webpages for different episodes providing “behind-the-scene” insights that will better explain just how we found the clinching document or story that was presented in the show."

What I like about these webpages, covering two episodes, so far, is that it does provide some insight into the research process that can help others doing genealogy. And, if you're lucky, the show might touch on something relevant to your own genealogy -- maybe you had a Gold Rush ancestor and did not know "as many as ten people died for every mile traveled along the route."

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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

"Who Do You Think You Are" - American Style

The "Who Do Think You Are" website launched today, setting the stage for the show's premiere. The American version of the popular British family history TV series, will feature seven celebrities as they journey back in time to discover more about their ancestors. Lisa Kudrow (Friends), the show's executive producer, will be featured, along with Sarah Jessica Parker, Spike Lee, Matthew Broderick, Susan Sarandon, Emmitt Smith, and Brooke Shields. The program is a partnership between NBC and Tune in to NBC on Fridays at 8 PM Eastern (7 PM Central), beginning March 5. The show has become almost an institution in the UK, generating an overwhelming interest among the general public to know more about their own ancestry -- not a bad thing. Even if you're not a celebrity aficionado, and I am not, the show is sure to be of interest to family history researchers. See a preview of the new series.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

What Good Is Genealogy?

In her article, "What Good Is Genealogy?," author Judy Rosella Edwards writes, "This is a common question. My answer is that it gives us a chance to correct the past, where necessary, and create a better future." That answer is at the heart of a movement that has grown out of one New England family's search into their own genealogy, as documented in the PBS movie "Traces of the Trade."

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Monday, January 5, 2009

U.S. "Who Do You Think You Are" closer yet?

We've heard it was in the works, but didn't know when it would air -- like the old joke, "It's coming . . . it's coming . . . ahhh . . . it's gone." Well, maybe not. Word is out, it is coming, but "in the spring," is about as specific as it gets.  According to a piece on Radar, Lisa Kudrow will feature in NBC's first episode of "Who Do You Think You Are," American style. 

The 46 year-old Friends star is making her US TV comeback by both producing and appearing in the show, which is based on the BBC version. Kudrow explained the show's premise to Parade magazine: "They (the producers) chose six people, all celebrities... and they trace our family trees and film us against those actual backgrounds." About her own very moving experience, Kudrow added: "They took me back to Belarus to find a cousin who survived the Holocaust but is dead now. . . It was not a vacation." The show -- an adaptation of the UK series is expected to air -- you guessed it . . .  in the spring.


Friday, November 7, 2008

BBC offers WW I family history series

November 11 is Veteran's Day, known also as Armistice Day, a day marking the "symbolic" end of World War One. The signing of the armistice or treaty between the Allies and Germany took place at 11 o'clock in the morning, the "eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month." Although hostilities continued in other regions after the armistice, November 11 has continued as the day to celebrate the end of the war, and has become a day to honor all members of the armed forces.

In anticipation of this anniversary, BBC One is offering "My Family at War", a series combining family history with events of World War I. As reported on Scottish Genealogy News and Events, the program, similar in format to the popular "Who Do You Think You Are," features celebrities discovering their ancestors' roles in the war, ranging from Dan Snow's discovery that a relative was a general who ordered men to their deaths at the Somme, to Kirsty Wark's emotional discovery of a letter written by her great uncle prior to going over the top, The celebrities are ably assisted by top military historian Paul Reed on their quests. Paul regularly writes for Your Family Tree magazine and has also been acting as the series consultant since May.

Not available in the US, the three most recent episodes are available in the UK on the BBC web site, My Family at War, for a limited time, "12 days left to watch," as of Nov 6. Episode Four airs November 14.

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Monday, July 30, 2007

"Warts-and-all journey into the past"

The old adage, you can pick your friends but you can't pick your family certainly holds true for genealogy. We often find ancestors with less than admirable traits or behaviors, and yet, as hard as it may be to confront the issues, we may come to a greater understanding as we view our ancestors within a historical context. While this does not excuse them, it may help us come to terms with that part of our history. An interesting article on EUX.TV, "Family history TV digs up German past including Nazis, takes a look at the popular British family history TV series when it is transported to Germany:

The BBC programme, Who Do You Think You Are?, premiered in 2004 and gained such big audiences that a fourth series is set to air this September. In each programme, a famous actor or TV personality discovers what their ancestors did in two World Wars, then explores places where forebears lived in the 19th century and meets up with previously unknown cousins. Transposing the programme to Germany creates a problem. Discovering a rabid Nazi in the family tree is often enough to put people off any further inquiries. "Still, there were no inhibitions on the two shows which were aired this month by public channel ZDF. . . . [as] 1.26 million people or 8 per cent of the viewers watched his warts-and-all journey into the past."

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