[09/24/09 - 02:29 PM]
History(Tm) Announces Wwii in Hd
The 10-hour series, narrated by Gary Sinise, premieres Sunday-Thursday, November 15-19 at 9-11 pm ET/PT.

[via press release from History]


10-hour series to premiere over five consecutive nights Sunday-Thursday, November 15-19 at 9-11pm ET

Gary Sinise to narrate

Other top names from film and television lend their voices to bring this extraordinary project to life


HISTORY's visually astonishing landmark series WWII in HD presents the story of the war ? viewed through the eyes of 12 Americans who fought in or contributed to the war effort. With original, color footage, never before seen by most Americans, the 10-hour series is narrated by Emmy Award winner Gary Sinise (CSI: NY). One of the network's most ambitious projects to date, WWII in HD premieres on HISTORY on Sunday�Thursday, November 15�19 at 9�11 pm ET/PT.

To create this series, HISTORY launched an exhaustive worldwide search for color footage. As a result, WWII in HD draws upon more than 3,000 hours of World War II footage unearthed from archives and private collections across the globe. HISTORY preserved and restored this footage ? some of which has not been seen since the 1940s ? and converted it to HD for unprecedented clarity.

Diaries, journals, interviews and Dolby "soundscape" are incorporated to enhance these striking visuals. WWII in HD thus transforms a war that many Americans know only through black-and-white newsreel footage into something viscerally real, relatable and newly relevant. One of the goals is for viewers to experience what the war looked and sounded like to those who were actually there.

The series follows the 12 Americans throughout the war. Their in-the-moment accounts, culled from original sources and new interviews, are delivered with emotional impact by some of Hollywood's top talents. The veterans themselves also appear, recounting their experiences firsthand.

As part of HISTORY's multi-media partnership with the Library of Congress and its collection of nearly 140 million items, HISTORY will incorporate original Library of Congress audio recordings from World War II into the series.

The 12 Americans who served in the war represent an array of wartime experiences. Viewers will hear the story of war reporter Robert Sherrod, as well as Army nurse June Wandrey who served from the beginnings of the war in North Africa to the liberation of the camps in Germany. They will meet Shelby Westbrook, a young African American from Toledo, who became a member of the famed Tuskegee Airmen; Jimmie Kanaya, the son of Japanese immigrants, who served in the U.S. Army and was imprisoned in Europe; and Jack Werner, a Jewish �migr� who escaped from Austria before the war and wound up fighting in the Pacific Theater rather than against the man and people he despised, Hitler and the Nazis.

Their individual war stories will be voiced by the following actors:

Jack Werner: Justin Bartha
Rockie Blunt: Rob Corddry
Richard Tregaskis: Tim DeKay
Archie Sweeney: Mark Hefti
Jimmie Kanaya: James Kyson Lee
Charles Scheffel: Ron Livingston
Shelby F. Westbrook: LL Cool J
Robert Sherrod: Rob Lowe
Bert Stiles: Josh Lucas;
Jack Yusen: Jason Ritter
June Wandrey: Amy Smart
Nolen Marbrey: Steve Zahn

Executive Producers for HISTORY are Michael Stiller and David McKillop. WWII in HD is produced for HISTORY by Lou Reda Productions. Executive Producers for Lou Reda Productions are Lou Reda and Scott L. Reda. Producer is Liz Reph. Director is Frederic Lumiere. Executive Producer is Matthew Ginsburg.

HISTORY� and HISTORY HD� are the leading destinations for revealing, award-winning original non-fiction series and event-driven specials that connect history with viewers in an informative, immersive and entertaining manner across multiple platforms. Programming covers a diverse variety of historical genres ranging from military history to contemporary history, technology to natural history, as well as science, archaeology and pop culture. Among the network's program offerings are hit series such as Ax Men, Battle 360, How The Earth Was Made, Ice Road Truckers, Pawn Stars and The Universe, as well as acclaimed specials including 102 Minutes That Changed America, 1968 with Tom Brokaw, King, Life After People, Nostradamus: 2012 and Star Wars: The Legacy Revealed. HISTORY has earned four Peabody Awards, seven Primetime Emmy� Awards, 12 News & Documentary Emmy� Awards and received the prestigious Governor's Award from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences for the network's Save Our History� campaign dedicated to historic preservation and history education. Take a Veteran to School Day is the network's latest initiative connecting America's schools and communities with veterans from all wars. The HISTORY web site, located at www.history.com, is the definitive historical online source that delivers entertaining and informative content featuring broadband video, interactive timelines, maps, games, podcasts and more. Press Only: For more information and photography please visit us on the web at www.historychannelpress.com.



The search for World War II�era original, color film was only one of the daunting tasks that HISTORY took on in making WWII in HD.

A team of historians and researchers scoured the world to find compelling personal stories from veterans who served in every branch of the armed services and who fought in every theater of operation, from Okinawa to North Africa to the Allied push into Germany.

Thus, the team read hundreds of World War II diaries, many unpublished and donated to U.S. military museums, and interviewed dozens of surviving veterans before selecting 12 individuals who became the heart and soul of WWII in HD.

It is through the eyes of these 12 � a group that includes an Army infantryman, a Navy seaman, a Marine, a Tuskegee fighter pilot, an Army nurse and two war correspondents � that the narrative of the war unfolds.

Six of the veterans profiled in WWII in HD are still alive and they tell their experiences onscreen. The filmmakers also cast some of the top talent in Hollywood to provide voiceover narration for the 12 protagonists' individual war stories.

The veterans profiled in the series are:

� Army sergeant Jack Werner (voiced by JUSTIN BARTHA) � A Jewish �migr� who fled Austria, then joined the U.S. Army so he could fight Hitler's "Jew-hating" regime. He served in the Pacific theater.

� Army infantryman Rockie Blunt (voiced by ROB CORDDRY) � The push into Germany brought him face to face with the incomprehensible horror of Nazi concentration camps.

� War correspondent Richard Tregaskis (voiced by TIM DEKAY) � A reporter from New Jersey, he jumped at the chance to report on the war from the front lines.

� Army corporal Archie Sweeney (voiced by MARK HEFTI) � Drafted in peacetime 1940 from a small town in upstate New York. After Pearl Harbor he was sent to serve in North Africa.

� Army medic Jimmie Kanaya (voiced by JAMES KYSON LEE) � His parents were in a Japanese internment camp while he heroically treated wounded soldiers in Italy and France as an Army medic in the 442nd Regimental team.

� Army captain Charles Scheffel (voiced by RON LIVINGSTON) � A hardworking all-American from Oklahoma, he trained with a British army unit before being sent to North Africa and Europe.

� Tuskegee fighter pilot Shelby Westbrook (voiced by LL COOL J) � A self-sufficient young man with a deep inner strength, he was keen to sign up for the nation's first all-black air corps.

� Time magazine correspondent Robert Sherrod (voiced by ROB LOWE) � An experienced reporter at the start of the war, he was stunned by the reality of the Japanese enemy he encountered in the Pacific.

� Air Force bomber and fighter pilot Bert Stiles (voiced by JOSH LUCAS) � His short stories had caught the attention of publishers before the war's outbreak. Despite mixed feelings about war, he signed up to fight.

� Navy seaman Jack Yusen (voiced by JASON RITTER) � The ultimate rookie when he joined in 1943, his ship sank off the coast off the Philippines, leaving him drifting for 72 hours in shark-infested water.

� Army nurse June Wandrey (voiced by AMY SMART) � A fun-loving, independent young woman from Wisconsin, she battled Nazis as well as hunger, exhaustion, weather, sickness as she cared for the sick and dying.

� Marine corporal Nolen Marbrey (STEVE ZAHN) � A young man from Huntsville, Alabama, whose brutally honest and graphic descriptions of his experience reveal the shocking bloody realities of the war.


American film footage of the Second World War was captured primarily by motion picture cameramen assigned to Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard signal photographic units. While this footage was captured mainly in black and white, some combat cameramen shot large quantities of color footage.

Some people may be surprised to learn that 16mm color film of the 1940s offers resolution that rivals the quality of today's high definition. Yet locating this footage for use in WWII in HD was often a challenge.

Many of these materials have changed hands over the years. They were in private collections or were donated to military museums � stored and forgotten.

Ultimately, the two-year, worldwide search paid off. Hundreds of hours were obtained of rarely- and never-seen footage, documenting activity in every theater of conflict for the war. Now they can be seen for the first time in decades, and in many cases, for the first time ever.

The material used for WWII in HD now represents one of the largest military film collections in the world. Footage in poor condition was able to be painstakingly cleaned, digitally transferred, detail-logged and stored in preservation canisters. Even film in near-pristine condition could be improved (scratches removed, color corrected, detail enhanced) using modern technology.

The result is a treasure trove of unforgettable imagery, from pulse-pounding aerial combat sequences over Europe to heartwarming shots of a GI sharing water from his canteen with a frightened Japanese child to the truly chilling sight of Hitler playing with children and tousling their hair. It's all there onscreen: history reassembled, history preserved.

With WWII in HD, HISTORY has created a vividly presented canvas that paints the definitive portrait of World War II.

  [september 2009]  


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