Documentary celebrates America’s best Words
Happy 241st birthday, America. You don’t look a day over 225. Maybe 220 on a good day.
Filmmaker Alexandra Pelosi has put together a fascinating documentary for Independence Day. The Words That Built America airs from 6 to 6:45 p.m. today on HBO and should be mandatory viewing for all patriotic citizens.
The special, narrated by Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David McCullough (John Adams), brings together a diverse group of more than 100 people, including all six living presidents and six vice presidents, for an unabridged reading of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
The Declaration of Independence is read by actors and media figures, including Tucker Carlson, Morgan Freeman, Kid Rock, Robert Redford and Meryl Streep. The Constitution is read by the presidents and vice presidents, Supreme Court justices, U.S. senators (including Arkansas’ own John Boozman), governors and other political figures.
The Bill of Rights is read by middle-school students from the United Nations International School.
As the title indicates, these are the documents that provide a blueprint for America and define our nation. For many, the special will be a handy way to finally hear the words of the documents they may never have read.
Pop quiz: Which document begins “We the People?”
If you answered the Constitution, congratulations on remembering the lessons from your eighth-grade civics class. Here is the preamble in its entirety with the odd spelling, capitalization and all:
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
For the record, the Declaration of Independence begins, “When in the Course of human events …”
Another pop quiz: Quick. Name the six living vice presidents.
Yeah, I had trouble, too. They are Joe Biden, Dick Cheney, Al Gore, Walter Mondale, Mike Pence and Dan Quayle.
If you don’t subscribe to HBO, you can access the special at HBO.com and the HBO YouTube channel.
A Capitol Fourth, 7 to 8:30 p.m. today on AETN and PBS. Encore immediately following.
The annual live concert from the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol celebrates America’s birthday and features performances by Dan Aykroyd, Jim Belushi, The Beach Boys with John Stamos and Mark McGrath, The Four Tops, Trace Adkins, Sofia Carson and Chris Blue.
The Beach Boys. The Beach Boys may be live at A Capitol Fourth, but if your cable provider has the AXS channel, you’re in for an even bigger treat.
Today wraps up a threeday AXS tribute to The Beach Boys with a marathon of specials beginning at 1 p.m. Here’s the schedule.
1 p.m.: Brian Wilson and Friends: Live From the Venetian. The concert features performances by Wilson, Al Jardine, Blondie Chaplin, Ricky Fataar, Mark Isham, Sebu Simonian and Nate Ruess.
2:25 p.m.: The Beach Boys: An American Band. This is the 1985 concert documentary with home movies and archived footage as well as clips of classic concerts and TV appearances. The special tells the band’s tale from its inception to Dennis Wilson’s tragic death in 1983.
5:35 p.m.: The Beach Boys 50 — Live in Concert. Highlights from the 50th anniversary tour include 21 of the band’s greatest hits including “Good Vibrations,” “California Girls,” and “Fun Fun Fun.”
6:50 p.m.: The Big Interview: Mike Love. Band co-founder Love joins Dan Rather to discuss his run-in with Charles Manson, Transcendental Meditation, and the creative process behind some of the band’s biggest hits.
7:50 p.m.: The Beach Boys 50 — Doin’ It Again. Highlights from the band’s recording of their first album of new material in 20 years.
8:50 p.m.: The Beach Boys: An American Family. The 2000 miniseries takes a look at the Wilson family and recreates some of the defining moments in the Beach Boys’ legacy.
Snowfall, 9 p.m. Wednesday, FX. The new ensemble drama is set in 1983 Los Angeles and deals with the beginnings of the crack cocaine epidemic. There will be 10 episodes that follow the stories of several characters whose lives intersect.
Filmmaker Alexandra Pelosi has a unique documentary on HBO today that will come in handy for those who can’t recall their eighth-grade civics classes.