WDYTYA Conference Call With Lisa Kudrow

Who Do You Think You Are?

This afternoon, I had a chance to participate in a conference call hosted by NBC/Universal with Lisa Kudrow and Dan Bucatinsky (Executive Producer) of the Who Do You Think You Are? television series premiering on March 5, 2010. And I actually was able to speak with both Lisa and Dan! And without embarassing myself!

The call was open to mostly media contacts and journalists so that we could get more information about the show, the series, the production factors etc.

Before I get to my question, here are some interesting tidbits from the call:

  • The producers began with a list of approximately 75 potential celebrities
  • This list was whittled down to about 15 celebrities
  • Out of the 15 celebrities there was one scheduling conflict and the other seven did not produce stories compelling enough for television
  • The term “alternative reality” was used to describe the concept of television documentary as entertainment
  • While the BBC version of WDYTYA has 59 minutes without interruption, the US version has roughly 40 minutes with frequent breaks; in addition, a US television show has “breaks, recaps, and coming-ups” which can often detract from the documentary format

One of the most interesting comments during the call, in my opinion, was made early on by Lisa Kudrow when she was asked how it felt to be standing in the same places where her ancestors lived and where they died.  She stated that doing so, “doesn’t allow you to keep an emotional distance” so you are forced to process your feeling and emotions about that portion of family history.

As for my question: I told Lisa and Dan that the genealogy blogging community was so excited about WDYTYA that many of us might spontaneously combust before March 5th.  And then I asked if they believed that WDYTYA could be the Roots of the 21st century and have the same impact.  Both of them believed that this series could have that impact and Dan added that as he and others watched each episode, “it became addictive.”

Let’s hope that WDYTYA is addictive to a wide spectrum of television viewers in the US.  Genealogy and family history are happy addictions after all, right?

© 2010, copyright Thomas MacEntee

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16 thoughts on “WDYTYA Conference Call With Lisa Kudrow

  1. Like what you learned, and sad that they felt some
    peoples genealogy not exciting enough for tv. I hope they at least shared it with the person.
    Hope this can be developed into a less broke up event I think. I know we can not miss an advertisement for anything. Thanks for sharing. Blessings

  2. Wow! I hope you are correct about the Roots comment. Roots was one of the things that got me interested in genealogy (first the book, then the show) and I was only a teenager. Maybe these TV shows will infuence a whole new generation of young people. Starting my genealogy at a young age was the best thing I ever did. I can’t imagine waiting for retirement, when all those interesting great aunties and grandpas have already passed on…

  3. Thanks for the update, Thomas! I don’t suppose they explained why it took so long to bring this to air? ;)

    “While the BBC version of WDYTYA has 59 minutes without interruption, the US version has roughly 40 minutes with frequent breaks; in addition, a US television show has “breaks, recaps, and coming-ups” which can often detract from the documentary format”

    Sigh. Well yes the US version has a hard act to follow if you’ve ever seen the UK version, but I’m looking forward to it all the same!

    LOL at “many of us might spontaneously combust”. It’s like that, it is.

  4. Thanks so much Thomas! I am not normally a jealous person, but I gotta admit to a twinge of it when I learned you got to visit with Lisa Kudrow AND learn some of the facts before it aired! But thank you for sharing!

    Way to go, though, and Congratulations! (And many thanks for your help, too!)

  5. I’m so excited about the airing of this exciting show! So happy that you got to participate in the conference call. I really enjoyed Lisa Cooke’s interview with Lisa Kudrow on GEMS poscast! So you keep up the good work, Thomas. And thanks for sharing it with the rest of us!

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