PBS has announced that television personality and journalist Meredith Vieira will host THE GREAT AMERICAN READ, a new eight-part television series launching on PBS stations with a two-hour special event on Tuesday, May 22, 2018. In THE GREAT AMERICAN READ, Vieira will take viewers on a journey across the country to uncover the nation’s 100 most-loved novels, the people who love them and their authors.
As host of the series, Vieira will tie together the overarching themes of our national love of literature and guide viewers on a search to discover America’s best-loved book. Vieira is known for co-hosting NBC News’ “Today” and serving as moderator of ABC’s “The View.” Throughout her career, she has gained national recognition for her reporting on such programs as “The Meredith Vieira Show,” “60 Minutes” and CBS News. She entertained the nation with her role as host of the popular syndicated quiz show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” and has won 14 Emmys for her work, engaging and educating the American public with hard-hitting news stories and heart-warming programming.
“It is a privilege to partner with PBS to bring THE GREAT AMERICAN READ to viewers across the country,” said Vieira. “The power of reading is extraordinary – it allows us to escape to new worlds, introduces us to a diverse range of people, opens our minds to different ideas, and allows us to keep learning no matter our age or background. THE GREAT AMERICAN READ offers a forum for readers to express what titles and stories they’re passionate about and share how novels impacted their lives. I am honored to be a part of this discussion.”
“We are thrilled to have Meredith join us on this national quest to discover ‘America’s Most-Loved Novel’, said Bill Gardner, VP of Programming & Development for PBS. “Meredith brings a unique warmth and journalistic sensitivities that make her the perfect host for our exploration of American culture and our shared experiences as reflected by our favorite books.”
“As a fixture in American households for decades, Meredith’s voice is the natural choice to guide the audience through this unique and multi-platform journey to find the most beloved novel,” said Jane Root, founder and CEO of Nutopia. “We are confident she has the ability to inspire viewers to read, vote and share their personal connections to the stories we explore in THE GREAT AMERICAN READ.” Jane Root also serves as an executive producer on PBS’ CIVILIZATIONS.
Many key authors, celebrities and notable figures in the entertainment, sports, news and literary worlds will join Vieira in lending their voices and passion to THE GREAT AMERICAN READ. Margaret Atwood, Jenna and Barbara Bush, Chelsea Clinton, Junot Díaz, Morgan Freeman, Lauren Graham, John Green, Gayle King, George R. R. Martin, Shaquille O’Neal, Sarah Jessica Parker, Jason Reynolds, Gabrielle Union, Ming-Na Wen and many others will share their personal stories and connections to their favorite titles throughout the series.
Following the two-hour launch event of THE GREAT AMERICAN READ, and throughout the summer, viewers will be encouraged to read and engage in the conversation by participating in local events, and by visiting the interactive website and voting for their favorite book on the list at pbs.org/greatamericanread. The series will return in September with a recap and additional themed episodes exploring the nominated books, leading up to the reveal of “America’s Best-Loved Novel” on Tuesday, October 23.
To complement THE GREAT AMERICAN READ, PBS KIDS will host PBS KIDS READ as part of an annual summer learning initiative for children ages 2-8 and their families. PBS KIDS READ will encourage reading and related activities through a variety of resources for children and parents, including social media engagement, digital games and tools, and downloadable activities. In addition, PBS member stations across the country will host literacy and learning events in local communities throughout the summer months.
PBS will partner with its nearly 350 local member stations in support of THE GREAT AMERICAN READ through grants designed to support active creation, distribution and promotion of the series, as well as through the formation and strengthening of local partnerships.
Funding for THE GREAT AMERICAN READ is provided by The Anne Ray Foundation and PBS.
THE GREAT AMERICAN READ is a production of Nutopia for PBS. The program is executive produced by Jane Root, Michael Cascio, Bob Kirsh and Charles Marquardt; co-executive produced by Rebecca Ratliff Cameron; line produced by Rachael Jerahian; and produced by Nilam Agrawal-Desai, Katherine Linton, Kate Chumley, Justine Simonson, Michelle Smawley, Siobhan Lockhart, Annie Wong and Tomek Gross. Bill Gardner, VP of Programming and Development, is executive in charge for PBS and Bethany Latham is project director.
Amplifying the on-air and online series content will be a fully illustrated companion book, The Great American Read: The Book of Books, which will include information about the 100 novels, author profiles, rare images of original manuscripts and more, plus a foreword by THE GREAT AMERICAN READ host Meredith Vieira, to be published by Black Dog & Leventhal in August 2018.