Last Friday's papers were all over Katie Couric's visit. And that very morning, The Early Show broadcast live from Civic Center Park, extolling the Front Range as the Napa Valley of microbrews (the timing was a bit unfortunate, given former Senate candidate Pete Coors's imminent date with a judge on a DUI bust). Meanwhile, lost in the crowd waving signs at the CBS cameras were members of a homegrown group about to get a global audience.
But you know what they say about a prophet in his own land...
At the same time the two CBS contingents hit town, a pair of international journalists arrived at Denver International Airport, here to plan coverage of an international event taking place at the University of Denver in mid-September that involves the largest gathering of Nobel Peace Prize Laureates outside of Oslo -- ever. The Nobel Laureates are coming to mark PeaceJam's tenth anniversary, continuing their work with kids and announcing a ten-year Global Call to Action ("A Nobel Calling," July 6).
"We've had numerous meetings with these guys in London," explains PeaceJam co-founder Ivan Suvanjieff, "and they finally got so excited that the BBC said, 'Go over there, do a site visit, see how much there is there.'"
And so Neil Parkinson, head of content for the 270-million-household BBC World (take that, Katie!) and Narendhra Morar, director of programming, flew to Denver. "And they found out there's a lot of there here," explains Suvanjieff. "It seems like we're going to be working in perpetuity together."
"They can't believe the access we have to the Nobel Peace Prize Laureates," says PeaceJam co-founder Dawn Engle. "There are more and more ideas coming out all the time."
The BBC will send a crew here next month to start preparing for the events at DU September 15-17. The BBC is dedicating all of September to "Peacemakers," kicking off the month with one-minute spots that PeaceJam has already produced out of its office in Arvada, using video of the Nobels that Suvanjieff and Engle have collected at PeaceJam events around the world. Those spots have already been sent to the BBC, and "they say they're 'fab,'" Engle reports. During the PeaceJam anniversary weekend, BBC World will show a PeaceJam documentary -- even as it films seven different programs featuring the Nobels: two episodes of World Debate and five of Hard Talk, its top-rated show. That's on top of regular coverage on BBC World News (which airs in Denver on Channel 12), on the BBC radio network (the largest in the world) and on the BBC website. And that's just the start: BBC World has also commissioned a thirteen-part series based on PeaceJam that will debut next September, with plans in the works for a companion book, a DVD and international sales. Says Suvanjieff, "This really launches it to an entire global platform."
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From Denver, Colorado.
CBS isn't completely unaware of PeaceJam. Suvanjieff met Couric when she came to the fifth-anniversary observance of Columbine: Survivor Richard Castaldo got involved early with PeaceJam and continues to volunteer. "He'll be working on soundtracks for various BBC products," Suvanjieff says.
A prophet in his own land. -- Calhoun