Sprout’s latest program to entertain and educate children comes from Randi Zuckerberg. If the name sounds familiar you have either read her best-selling book, “Dot.” or you are thinking about her brother, Jeff Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook.
The new series is in line with her book about an 8-year-old girl who is super curious about the world and uses technology to learn and explore. She’s joined by friends and her dog, Scratch. The character, book and TV series are the product of Zuckerberg working in the tech world for almost a decade.
“I actually didn’t set out to write a children’s book. I was writing Dot Complicated, which was my business book at the time, and I was spending so much time out on the road, speaking, speaking with parents, and no matter what I would get on stage and talk about related to tech and business, everyone afterward wanted to talk to me about their children, about their 2 to 5 year olds and how tech savvy children are,” Zuckerberg says. “So I thought, oh, my gosh, I need to write a book about modern childhood because I’m sitting here, writing a book about being a tech expert – I’m going to get lapped by my 2 year old. And when I looked, there was really nothing else out there like Dot.’
Once the book was a success, Zuckerberg teamed with the Jim Henson Company to create the series. Halle Stanford, Executive Vice President of Children’s Entertainment for The Jim Henson Company, parent feedback was used to create the series. Part of that feedback came from her and Zuckerberg as they are both mothers of preschoolers.
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“Dot.” is aimed at young children, a demographic that has spawned arguments and conversations as to when they should be introduced to technology. Even Zuckerberg, who comes from a very tech savvy family, has no clear idea of when a child should be introduced to the tech world.
“I talk to parents all the time, and it’s a struggle. On one hand, tech-life balance should skew so far towards life for children. On the other hand, you don’t want children to not have access to those tech tools and be behind their peers, especially girls,” Zuckerberg says.
Broadway’s biggest sensation, “ Hamilton,” is the focus of the documentary, “Hamilton’s America,” scheduled to air as part of the “Great Performances” series on PBS.
The documentary looks into the creation of the show, revealing Lin-Manuel Miranda’s process of adapting Hamilton’s story into groundbreaking musical theater. The film includes newly shot footage of the New York production with its original cast, trips to historic locations and interviews with prominent personalities including President Barack Obama.
Original cast member, Daveed Diggs, knew “Hamilton” was something special because of the multiple times he got to meet the President in connection with the musical. To him and the rest of the original cast, “Hamilton” was just a production they wanted to perform as strongly as possible.
“I think as an artist working on it, you were just in there really committed to try and tell this story the best way possible. Everyone in that room was there because we fell in love with this thing that Lin wrote,” Diggs says. “So there was this kind of intense focus in there always. Even long after we opened, our assistant director is giving us notes every day.
“We’re always in there, trying to make it better, make the jokes funnier, make the beats land better, because it deserved it.”
Great Performances: Hamilton’s America
- 9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 21 PBS (Channel 18.1)
- Saturday, Oct. 22, Sprout