PBS – Ken Burns: Jackie Robinson

Jackie Robinson, a two-part, four-hour film directed by Ken Burns, Sarah Burns and David McMahon tells the story of an American icon whose life-long battle for first class citizenship for all African Americans transcends even his remarkable athletic achievements. “Jackie Robinson,” Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “was a sit-inner before sit-ins, a freedom rider before freedom rides.”

It achieved a solid 1.7 Nielsen overnight rating for the premiere.

As one of a number of copywriters, I produced a number of scripts to be considered for a 30 second series sell, under the creative direction of Derrick Chamlee and John Ruppenthal. Our goal was to find something about this particular documentary that separated it from all the other Jackie Robinson films that have been produced.

One key feature we had was that Rachel Robinson had been interviewed numerous times for the documentary, something many of the other films lacked. I found that describing the bond between Jackie Robinson and his wife brought out an aspect about the icon many people did not know about.