Although Americans are very familiar with the exterior appearance of the White House, very few have seen the inner workings and wonders of this unique residence. That will change on December 14, when C-SPAN debuts its newest original production, “The White House: Inside America’s Most Famous Home.”
The idea for this new project was inspired after C-SPAN presented a documentary about the U.S. Capitol last year, and received an enthusiastic audience response. “Following that, we wanted to produce another original documentary with even greater impact,” said Connie Doebele, C-SPAN’s Senior Producer. “The White House was our first choice. We wanted to give the public an unprecedented and dramatic view of America’s executive mansion.”
C-SPAN approached First Lady Laura Bush’s office with this idea, and the First Lady agreed to help. The production team was granted unprecedented access, and filming began. “The timing couldn’t have been better,” according to Joanne Wheeler, C-SPAN’s Vice President of Education. “As the nation anticipates the inauguration of a new president, this program will help students become more connected to America’s most famous home.”
To make the most of this opportunity, C-SPAN Classroom will help teachers share the story of the White House with their students through the distribution of free lesson plans, designed to be used with C-SPAN’s “White House Week,” December 14-20. C-SPAN Classroom members will be notified when resources are available. Membership is free, and educators can register at www.c-spanclassroom.org.
Also available is a website dedicated to the documentary, www.c-span.org/whitehouse, which includes a video trailer and detailed information about additional special programs that will be broadcast during White House Week.
“This is a first,” remarked Connie Doebele. “Viewers will witness Teddy Roosevelt’s vision to build the West Wing in 1902, President Truman’s addition of the Truman Balcony, and Jackie Kennedy’s redecorations. And because it was all shot in HD, it will really come alive.”
Rooms in the White House private residence that have long been off-limits are presented in the documentary, including the president’s private study and the Solarium. “Historically the Solarium is a phenomenal room,” says Ms. Doebele. “It’s where President Nixon told his family he was resigning, where Ronald Reagan recuperated after the assassination attempt, and where the Eisenhowers played cards before they grilled on the roof. This room has rarely been seen by anyone except the actual residents of the White House. Once you have that perspective, you realize how special it is to be invited in.”
Inviting viewers in to American politics is what C-SPAN does best. Since its founding in 1979, C-SPAN has been funded entirely through fees paid by cable and satellite television companies, and exists to offer dynamic opportunities for citizens to learn about their government. This dynamism is summed up best in C-SPAN’s mission statement: to provide public access to the political process. According to figures from the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, C-SPAN is succeeding. Its programming is watched by 52 million Americans of diverse political ideologies, representing wide-ranging interests and ages.
Across this spectrum, the White House is revered as a national and historic treasure, and it is the most recognizable home in the United States. Now, through C-SPAN’s new documentary, millions of Americans will come to know this incredible mansion better then they ever have before.
“The White House: Inside America’s Most Famous Home” kicks off White House Week on C-SPAN at 9 pm EST on December 14.
For more information please visit www.cspanclassroom.org or call (800) 523-7586.