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PBS stations picking up Austin Film Festival's locally produced 'On Story'

Matthew Odam

The Austin Film Festival has always prided itself as being a champion of the screenwriter. Last spring, the festival produced the television show "On Story" to give viewers an inside look at some of the panels that are a key part of the annual event. The 12-episode first season, which aired on Austin's KLRU last year, featured festival highlights of screenwriters and directors discussing the craft of storytelling.

Now the rest of the country will get a front-row seat to one of Austin's hallmark entertainment events. The first season of "On Story" has been picked up by 70 PBS-affiliated stations in 41 markets, including Denver and New York City. Episodes began airing in markets from San Francisco to Savannah, Ga., earlier this month.

TV programmers say the show fits their markets well, as does "Austin City Limits."

"The Denver / Boulder metro area — like Austin — has a thriving creative class," said Brad Haug, director of programming for Colorado Public Television. "Artists, writers, dancers, chefs, scientists and high tech entrepreneurs all exchange challenging new ideas here. 'On Story' provides an important opportunity for our viewers to gain insight into the creative process. This crosses boundaries."

AFF director and "On Story" producer Barbara Morgan said it was always her dream that the show would be picked up by other stations, but she never expected the show to gain so much momentum so soon.

"I guess it's an endorsement, in a way, of the festival's mission," Morgan said. "It makes me feel that when people actually get to hear the writers speak, they respond like they do at the festival. We always knew the festival was great content, and now I feel like the general public, who may not be coming (to AFF) just because they don't want to be filmmakers, is going to get to see it, and they will hopefully feel the same way."

Though her name is on the show, Morgan is quick to give credit to the talent.

"The brains are people like Larry Kasdan and Randy Wallace and John Lee Hancock and people like that who have come in to speak," Morgan said.

AFF is already in production of Season 2 of "On Story," with episodes to begin airing April 28 as part of KLRU-Q's Night at the Movies lineup. Flagship station KLRU will air Season 2 after the run on KLRU-Q. The first episode focuses on the theme "Writing Great Characters" and features 2006 AFF honorees Sydney Pollack, David Milch and Shane Black.; 912-5986