PBS Announces Winter/Spring 2011 Lineup

This Winter/Spring 2011 season, PBS celebrates True Originals — innovators, artists, scientists, political leaders and ordinary citizens who dared to advance, challenge, improve, invent and explore. From the inspiring stories of those who risked their lives for a cause to the early television pioneers to the innovators who seek to make things better, PBS presents a new season of original programs that enrich lives and expand horizons.

For true originals – how about AMERICAN MASTERS “Jeff Bridges: The Dude Abides” (Wednesday, January 12 at 8:00 p.m. ET)? Or PIONEERS OF TELEVISION (Tuesdays, January 18-February 8 at 8:00 p.m. ET), which looks at the inception of four popular genres: science fiction, crime dramas, local kids’ TV and westerns.

Science takes a starring role this season on PBS with NOVA “Making Stuff” (Wednesdays, January 19-February 9 at 9:00 p.m. ET), hosted by New York Times technology columnist David Pogue. NOVA scienceNOW tries to answer some really big questions like “Can We Live Forever?” and “How Smart Are Animals?” (Wednesdays, January 19-February 23 at 8:00 p.m. ET). And on February 9, PBS presents a special three-hour block dubbed “The Smartest Night on Television,” when NOVA “Smartest Machine on Earth” joins the lineup at 10:00 p.m.

If drama is your cup of tea, then PBS offers three new MASTERPIECE CLASSICS hosted by Laura Linney. “Downton Abbey” (Sundays, January 9-30 at 9:00 p.m. ET), set in an Edwardian country house in 1912, features an all-star cast including Hugh Bonneville, Dame Maggie Smith and Elizabeth McGovern. Or go below stairs with an updated version of the beloved “Upstairs Downstairs” (Sundays, April 10-24 at 9:00 p.m. ET) with Jean Marsh reprising her Emmy-winning role as Rose along with a cast of new characters. “Any Human Heart” (Sundays, February 13-27 at 9:00 p.m. ET), William Boyd‘s adaptation of his acclaimed 2002 novel, stars Matthew MacFadyen, Gillian Anderson, Hayley Atwell, Kim Cattrall and Jim Broadbent.

Three American masters plus three great performers add up to one amazing night of stories and music on AMERICAN MASTERS “Troubadours: James Taylor, Carole King and the California Scene” and GREAT PERFORMANCES “Harry Connick Jr. in Concert on Broadway” (Wednesday, March 2 at 8:00 p.m. ET and 9:30 p.m. ET).

For profiles in courage, watch Stanley Nelson‘s acclaimed film FREEDOM RIDERS (Monday, May 16 at 9:00 p.m. ET). The powerful and inspirational story of the more than 400 black and white men and women who risked their lives to challenge segregated travel facilities in the South in 1961, debuts on AMERICAN EXPERIENCE. Or INDEPENDENT LENS “Bhutto” (Tuesday, May 10 at 10:00 p.m. ET), the incredible life story of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who evolved from pampered princess to polarizing politician only to be struck down by assassins in 2007.

Henry Louis Gates returns with BLACK IN LATIN AMERICA (Tuesdays, April 19-May 10, 8:00 p.m. ET), an exploration of what happens when African and Hispanic worlds meet.

Programs premiering on nature include a brand-new series hosted by the energetic and enthusiastic creature exploring brothers, Martin and Chris Kratt in the new PBS KIDS GO! series WILD KRATTS (January 3) and NATURE “Bears of the Last Frontier” (Sundays, May 8-22 at 8:00 p.m. ET).

Finally, on the 150th anniversary of the beginning of America’s Civil War, PBS presents an encore presentation of Ken Burns‘s entire landmark 1990 series THE CIVIL WAR (Sunday-Thursday, April 3-7 at 8:00 p.m. ET).

Additional information on PBS Winter/Spring 2011 lineup is available at http://www.pbs.org/about/news/archive/2010/pbs-winter-2011/.