The Movement and the Madman – Director Stephen Talbot

Award-winning documentary filmmaker Stephen Talbot’s THE MOVEMENT AND THE MADMAN shows how two anti-war protests in the fall of 1969 — the largest the country had ever seen — pressured President Nixon to cancel what he called his “madman” plans for a massive escalation of the U.S. war in Vietnam, including a threat to use nuclear weapons. At the time, protestors had no idea how influential they could be and how many lives they may have saved. Told through remarkable archival footage and firsthand accounts from movement leaders, Nixon administration officials, historians, and others, the film explores how the leaders of the antiwar movement mobilized disparate groups from coast to coast to create two massive protests that changed history. Director and Producer Stephen Talbot (The Best Campaign Money Can Buy, Sound Tracks: Music Without Borders) joins us for a lively conversation on an untold, but very important chapter in American presidential history that, had it played out as the Nixon Administration wanted, would have doomed hundreds of thousands Vietnamese people to nuclear annihilation, dramatically lower the world’s threshold for the use of weapons of mass destruction and set off a catastrophic reaction in the US population, already veering towards a domestic civil war.


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The Movement and the “Madman” premieres as a Special Presentation of AMERICAN EXPERIENCE on Tuesday, March 28, 9:00-10:30 p.m. ET (check local listings) on PBS, and the PBS App. The Movement and the “Madman” will stream simultaneously with broadcast and be available on all station-branded PBS platforms, including and the PBS App, available on iOS, Android, Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Samsung Smart TV, Chromecast and VIZIO. The film will also be available for streaming with closed captioning in English and Spanish. “The Movement and the “Madman” is distributed internationally byPBS International.

For 35 years, AMERICAN EXPERIENCE has been television’s most-watched history series, bringing to life the incredible characters and epic stories that have shaped America’s past and present. AMERICAN EXPERIENCE documentaries have been honored with every major broadcast award, including 30 Emmy Awards, four duPont-Columbia Awards and 19 George Foster Peabody Awards. PBS’s signature history series also creates original digital content that innovates new forms of storytelling to connect our collective past with the present. Cameo George is the series executive producer. AMERICAN EXPERIENCE is produced for PBS by GBH Boston. Visit and follow us on FacebookTwitter, Instagram and YouTubeto learn more.

About the filmmaker – Born in Hollywood in 1949, the son of actor Lyle Talbot, Stephen Talbot became a child actor, appearing as Beaver’s friend, Gilbert, in more than 50 episodes of the iconic baby boomer series “Leave It To Beaver.” He also appeared in many TV shows of the late ’50s and early ’60s, including “Perry Mason,” “Lassie,” “The Twilight Zone,” “Wanted: Dead of Alive,” “The Donna Reed Show,” and “The Lucy Show.”As an adult, Talbot turned to reporting and documentary filmmaking. He began as a producer and on-air reporter for KQED, the public television station in San Francisco. He had early success with two documentaries that set the tone for his career: “Broken Arrow” (1980) an investigation of nuclear weapons accidents, and “The Case of Dashiell Hammett” (1982), a portrait of the mystery writer. Both films won George Foster Peabody Awards and established Talbot as someone who could do both investigative reporting and biographies. Talbot began producing documentaries for the critically acclaimed PBS series, “Frontline,” in 1992 with his film on the Bush-Clinton presidential race, “The Best Campaign Money Can Buy,” which won a DuPont / Columbia University Award. It was the start of a long association with “Frontline,” where he produced and wrote ten documentaries for the series, including “News War: What’s Happening to the News” (2007) with reporter Lowell Bergman, “Justice for Sale” (1999) with Bill Moyers, “Spying on Saddam” (1999), “The Long March of Newt Gingrich” (1996) and “Rush Limbaugh’s America” (1995) with Peter Boyer, and “The Heartbeat of America” (1993) with Robert Krulwich about the travails of General Motors. Talbot is an Emmy, DuPont and Peabody award-winning filmmaker who has produced, written or directed more than 40 documentaries for public television, primarily for the PBS series Frontline and KQED (San Francisco). He directed the PBS history special, 1968: The Year that Shaped a Generation, as well as producing and writing PBS biographies of authors Dashiell Hammett, Ken Kesey, Carlos Fuentes, Maxine Hong Kingston and John Dos Passos. He was the co-creator and executive producer of the PBS music specials, Sound Tracks: Music Without Borders. Talbot also served as the series editor for Frontline’s international series, Frontline World: Stories from a Small Planet, and the senior producer of documentary shorts for the PBS series Independent Lens. As a student at Wesleyan University, he made his first documentary film about the November 1969 anti-war protests in Washington, DC. Talbot’s recent documentaries include a one-hour biography he wrote for public television about the late San Francisco Mayor George Moscone, “Moscone: A Legacy of Change” (2018) and four documentaries he co-wrote and produced for the NBC series “Bay Area Revelations,” including “Loma Prieta Earthquake: 30 Years Later” (2019) and “Riding the Waves” (2020) about surfing in northern California.