Doc­u­men­tary cel­e­brates Amer­ica’s best Words

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NWA OUTDOORS - MICHAEL STOREY The TV Col­umn ap­pears Sun­day, Tues­day and Thurs­day. Email:

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 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.

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