Jul 9, 2013 by


Movie Premieres on Hallmark Channel September 20 as Part of “Walmart and P&G Present Walden Family Theater”, A New Series of Family Movies Created by Walmart, P&G, Walden Media and ARC Entertainment

Hallmark Channel and Walden Media announced today a partnership with Cable in the Classroom (CIC) designed to offer educators a new framework for teaching their students about the Civil Rights Movement with a customized curriculum created around the new Hallmark Channel original movie, “The Watsons Go To Birmingham”, premiering on Friday, September 20 (8:00pm ET/PT, 7:00 C). Adapted from Christopher Paul Curtis’ award-winning book The Watsons Go To Birmingham 1963, published by Random House Children’s Books, the film follows an African American family on a profoundly life-altering road trip from Flint, Michigan to the racially charged tinderbox that was Birmingham, Alabama in the summer of 1963, where real-life events ignited the Civil Rights Movement and forever changed the course of American history.

Developed by Walden Media, in partnership with Zaner-Bloser Educational Publishers, and designed for students, grades 4-12, “The Watsons Go To Birmingham” Teacher Guide offers parents and educators a turnkey lesson plan, streaming video resources, and archival photographs, giving fresh context to the stark injustices and boiling tensions that incited the Civil Rights Movement. Using the themes and messages explored in the movie as a narrative backdrop, the Guide is based on the Zaner-Bloser Voices Curriculum and was written in collaboration with a team led by   Professor Robert Selman of the Harvard Graduate School of Education. “The Watsons Go To Birmingham” Teacher Guide, which will be free of charge on a dedicated Hallmark Channel microsite and the Walden Media website www.walden.com , integrates social-emotional learning, literacy, writing, and character education designed to reinforce critical thinking and deep comprehension skills; support the goals of Common Core State Standards; and encourage active student participation. CIC will promote the teacher resources as part of “Back to School” offerings.

“’The Watsons Go To Birmingham’, based on a deeply compelling work of historical fiction, is an entertaining and insightful look, through the eyes and experiences of one ordinary family, at the outset of the crusade for Civil Rights,” said Bill Abbott, president and CEO, Crown Media Family Networks. “We are incredibly proud of this movie and honored to work with Cable in the Classroom to extend its educational value beyond our viewers’ living rooms and into classrooms, where we hope it will capture the minds and spirits of students nationwide.”

“We’re very excited to bring teachers and students to ‘The Watsons Go To Birmingham’ with the Hallmark Channel in the best of ways –by helping them enjoy, read and study Christopher Paul Curtis’ beautiful novel in preparation for the screening of what we believe will be an entertaining and moving film for the entire family,” said Randy Testa, vice president, education and professional development, Walden Media.

“We applaud Hallmark Channel and Walden Media for bringing to the foreground this historic chapter in the Civil Rights Movement for the next generation of activists,” said Helen Chamberlin, deputy executive director, Cable in the Classroom. “CIC is delighted to help roll out this curriculum to students and teachers across the country as part of the 50th anniversary of Civil Rights Movement.  It’s another great example of quality programming and resources provided by a cable network in partnership with Cable in the Classroom.”

“At ToniK we seek to make movies that entertain and inform.  Therefore, we are especially thrilled with the partnership with CIC to be able to offer educators and families a unique tool to teach the many important messages and themes about a period of American history that arises out of ‘The Watsons Go To Birmingham,’” said Tonya Lewis Lee, who adapted the story for the small screen and served as executive producer on the film.

“The Watsons Go To Birmingham” is presented by ARC Entertainment, Walden Media, Walmart and Procter & Gamble and is a Tonik Production. Louis J Grieci III, Clint McClain, Janet M. Morrison, Aaron Tucker, Jim Bechtold, Trevor Drinkwater, Brad Liebow and Brian Wells serve as executive producers and Philip Kleinbart, Nikki Silver and Tonya Lewis Lee serve as producers. Based on the book, The Watsons Go To Birmingham 1963, by Christopher Paul Curtis, published by Random House Children’s Books, the teleplay is by Tonya Lewis Lee and is directed by Kenny Leon.  “Walden Family Theater” is designed to further fill the void on TV for quality family entertainment.

Tony® Award winner and Grammy® Award nominee Anika Noni Rose (“The Good Wife,” “Dreamgirls,” “The Princess and the Frog”) stars along with three-time Tony® Award nominee and Grammy® Award nominee David Alan Grier (“Porgy and Bess,” “PEEPLES,” “In Living Color”), Skai Jackson (“Jessie”), Wood Harris (“The Wire,” “Remember The Titans”), LaTanya Richardson (“The Fighting Temptations”), Pauletta Washington (“Beloved”), Bryce Jenkins (“Easy A,” “Have A Little Faith”) and Harrison Knight (“We the Party”).

“The Watsons Go To Birmingham” is produced by Walden Media, ARC Entertainment and Tonik Productions, LLC in association with WalMart and Procter & Gamble. Nikki Silver and Tonya Lewis Lee serve as executive producers. The film is produced by Phil Kleinbart, written by Tonya Lewis Lee, based on Christopher Paul Curtis’ novel, The Watsons Go To Birmingham 1963 published by Random House Children’s Books, and directed by Kenny Leon.

About Hallmark Channel
Hallmark Channel, owned and operated by Crown Media Holdings, Inc., is a 24-hour basic cable network that provides a diverse slate of high-quality entertainment programming available in high definition (HD) and standard definition (SD) to a national audience of 87 million subscribers. Hallmark Channel is the nation’s leading destination for quality family programming with an ambitious slate of original TV movies and specials, as well as some of television’s most beloved sitcoms and series, including The Golden Girls, The Waltons, Little House on the Prairie, and Frasier. The channel is also home to a range of lifestyle programming, anchored by Home & Family, a daily two-hour live show shot in a fully functional house located on the Universal Studios lot. Hallmark Channel’s sibling network, Hallmark Movie Channel, available in HD and SD, focuses on family-friendly movies with a mix of original films, classic theatrical releases, and presentations from the acclaimed Hallmark Hall of Fame library.

Hallmark Channel on Social Media: Facebook, Twitter (Join the conversation at #HeartofTV), Pinterest, GetGlue, YouTube

About Walden Media
Walden Media creates films and books for the whole family to enjoy together. Past award-winning films include: “The Chronicles of Narnia” series, “Holes,” “Nim’s Island,” “Charlotte’s Web,” the Sundance Audience Prize Winning documentary “Waiting for ‘Superman” and the recent hit “Parental Guidance.”

About ARC Entertainment
ARC Entertainment, founded in 2010, is a fast growing, fully integrated production and distribution company providing both physical and digital distribution and sales services entertainment-based products.   ARC Entertainment has a robust distribution platform which enables it to monetize Content through key revenue streams such as Theatrical Distribution, SVOD, VOD, PPV, Digitally and Physical DVD.  The Company has unparalleled relationships with major national retailers and a management team with a history of success in the Entertainment and Consumer Products industries.

About ToniK Productions
ToniK Productions was founded by award winning producers Tonya Lewis Lee and Nikki Silver. The Company will create and produce quality entertainment content for film and television, developing original projects and adapting some of today’s top novels and biographies. For more information on ToniK Productions, please visit www.tonikproductions.com.

About Random House
Random House Children’s Books is the world’s largest English-language children’s trade book publisher. Creating books for toddlers through young adult readers, in all formats from board books to activity books to picture books, novels, ebooks, and apps, the imprints of Random House Children’s Books bring together award-winning authors and illustrators, world-famous franchise characters, and multimillion-copy series. The company’s website, Kids @ Random (www.randomhousekids.com) offers an array of activities, games, and resources for children, teens, parents, and educators. Random House Children’s Books is a division of Random House, Inc., whose parent company is Bertelsmann, a leading international media company.

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