LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Less than a week after HBO yanked Oliver Stone (news)‘s documentary on Fidel Castro (news - web sites), PBS said it’s tackling the life of the controversial Cuban dictator.
WGBH Boston has started production on a two-hour political biography of Castro, who has led Cuba since 1959, for the PBS “American Experience” series. Producer Adriana Bosch plans to interview Cuban public officials, former political prisoners and Castro friends and family members as well as world leaders.
Bosch is an experienced documentarian whose “American Experience” biography on Ronald Reagan (news) won a George Foster Peabody Award. The Castro documentary is slated to air next year.
“There is a need for an objective, well-researched documentary on Castro,” Margaret Drain, executive producer of “American Experience,” said in a statement. “For nearly 50 years, he has commanded our attention ... yet he is unknown to most of us. Current events in Cuba make this film particularly relevant.”
Indeed, Castro’s recent crackdowns persuaded HBO last week to pull “Comandante,” the Stone documentary, which was originally scheduled for broadcast in May. The Cuban government earlier this month executed three men convicted of hijacking a ferry in an attempt to get to the United States.
Stone, the “Platoon” director who spent three days with Castro in February 2002, was expected to offer a largely flattering portrayal. “We should look to him as one of the Earth’s wisest people,” Stone told reporters at this year’s Berlin International Film Festival in February.
HBO has not yet rescheduled the program and is discussing having Stone return to Cuba to get more updated material. “Given the recent events in Cuba, the (documentary) has become incomplete,” an HBO spokesman said Monday.