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Margaret Mitchell: American Rebel newsreel

Newsreel for premiere of "Margaret Mitchell: American Rebel" documentary.

When Pam Roberts, GPB executive producer, proposed creating a documentary about the life of Margaret Mitchell, there were more than few of us who gulped. The enigmatic Mitchell, and of course Gone With the Wind, is so closely tied into the identity of Atlanta and Georgia that telling this story in a entertaining yet nuanced way was not going to be easy. Mitchell was an incredibly private person, and finding the source material for her story was a huge challenge.

Clearly, Roberts and her crew succeeded. The documentary was nominated in five Emmy categories, and came home with the statue for each one. The PBS program American Masters picked the documentary up for national distribution and has now been seen by millions of people.

One of things that made this documentary so special is the use of historical re-enactments. If you work at GPB, it’s quite a kick to see some of your co-workers in period clothing in some of the scenes. In the case of Carl Zornes, one of our senior software developers, he’ll always be able to cherish seeing his daughters playing the young Margaret Mitchell in some of the early scenes.

Just before airing on GPB television, a premiere gala was held at the Georgian Terrace hotel in Atlanta. If you aren’t familiar, this building is right across from the Fox Theater on Peachtree Street, and it is the hotel where cast from the Gone With the Wind movie stayed during its Atlanta premiere. (Sidenote, contrary even to what most Atlantans think, the movie itself did not premiere at the Fox in midtown but rather at the long-gone Loew’s Grand downtown).

The GPB New Media team thought it might be fun to recreate the much-watched newsreel of the movie premiere for the Margaret Mitchell: American Rebel documentary. Take a look:

We enlisted Andrew MacCartney, Education and New Media team manager, to write the script and to provide the voiceover. Andrew is a bit of ham (he tells us he starred as the color brown in his third-grade play) (Ed Note: since posting this, he reminded us that this was his fifth-grade play, which raises even more questions), so it required very little audio manipulation to get him to sound like this. As always, the ever-capable video goddess Victoria Bostic handled the editing and creative. And everyone was involved in creating the web site.

Because of the rights issues involved with distributing the program nationally, we are not able to let you watch the whole program online at the moment, but you can buy the DVD and see the trailer and other features on the web site. The program re-airs on television often (usually around pledge drive time) so keep an eye on the schedule.

Andrew MacCartney provided the voiceover for the newsreel.