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Verdigris Documentary Watch Party
January 12, 2016 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Written, directed and produced by Inola native Beau Jennings. The Verdigris: In Search of Will Rogers will be broadcast on Tuesday, January 12th, at 7 p.m. on RSU TV. The watch party will be in the Museum’s auditorium, 1720 W. Will Rogers Blvd.
A question and answer panel will follow featuring Jennings and former Memorial director and Rogers’ scholar Steve Gragert. The event is made possible in part by The Oklahoma Humanities Council. Admission is free.
“Beau did a great job with this movie and it will help bring the influence of Will Rogers to a new generation,” said Tad Jones, Museum executive director.
RSU TV is the presenting station for national broadcast distribution by American Public Television. More than 60 public television licensees have already signed on to broadcast the title. Jennifer Sterling, manager of content and community engagement for RSU TV, said this partnership represents a new direction for the independent station.
“We’re committed to working with local independent filmmakers to provide a platform for distribution. It’s a logical extension of our mission to bring the stories and voices that are uniquely Oklahoma to the widest possible audience. The Verdigris is a unique project and we’re proud to have it as our first collaborative offer,” Sterling said.
When singer-songwriter Jennings set out to make his latest album, he thought the subject would be his experiences of his home at the time, Brooklyn. As he worked on the album, he was drawn to his childhood hero, Oklahoma legend Will Rogers, a rancher and citizen of the Cherokee Nation, and at one time one of the most famous people in the world.
He was the first global media superstar of the electronic age, with a newspaper column, radio show and the Number 1 ranking at the box office throughout the 1930s. His sly political commentary wrapped in a folksy homespun delivery was hugely influential and paved the way for present day successors like Steven Colbert and Jon Stewart.
Not content to just imagine where Will Rogers stood, Jennings decided to visit each of the places he had written about. His travels took him from a small boat above the site of the original Rogers ranch in the middle of Oologah Lake, to the isolated beach at Point Barrow, Alaska, where Rogers died with fellow Oklahoman, aviation pioneer Wiley Post in 1935.
As he made his way to the major locales in Rogers’ life, Jennings recorded the songs he’d written along the way. A film crew led by his friend and fellow Oklahoman Bradley Beesley, (Okie Noodling, Sweethearts of the Prison Rodeo), accompanied him on his journey.
The collaboration resulted in an evocative musical and visual tapestry of the diverse landscapes and unique people who shaped and were shaped by Rogers and his legacy. The touching and sometime humorous interviews include a compelling segment with the grandson of the couple who found the wreckage at Point Barrow. The crumbling monument at the crash site can be seen as a symbol of the fleeting nature of celebrity, or a reminder that the influence of character and wisdom withstand the harshest winds of time.
For more information on the watch party or the documentary, contact Jennifer Sterling, manager of content and community engagement for RSU TV, at 918-343-7882 or email@example.com.
RSU TV, the only full-powered public television station licensed to a public university in Oklahoma, provides educational, cultural and general interest programming to an audience of 1.2 million viewers in northeastern Oklahoma, and the Tulsa metropolitan area. The independent station has won numerous awards for its programming and community impact. The primary channel is broadcast over the air on Channels 35.1 and can be found on Cox cable on Channels 86 (SD) and 1086 (HD).