Thinking Inside the Box

When the Beatles -- and the Roosevelts -- Came To Wisconsin!

by Ellis Bromberg, General Manager of MPTV

Hi, Ellis Bromberg, "Thinking Inside the Box" on and MPTV Mobile.

I can't tell you how excited I was to go to Miller Park on July 16, just last year, to see the great Paul McCartney perform! The day after the concert I wrote this to a friend:

"McCartney was amazing! He's 71 years old, but looks younger than any of us. The evening was steamy hot, but he played for 2 1/2 hours straight. He was in great voice, he was the lead vocal and guitar or piano on every number without a break, and as best as we could tell, not a sip of water! It was the largest attendance ever for a non-sporting event at Miller Park."

It was truly one of the most memorable concerts of my life -- but even it paled in comparison to what was arguably the most famous concert ever in the city's history: Friday night, 8:00, September 4, 1964, at the old Milwaukee Arena. That was the first night Paul McCartney played Milwaukee along with the other Beatles, John, George, and Ringo. The most expensive tickets? $5.50. And if that wasn't enough, you also got to see the Exciters, Jackie DeShannon, Clarence Frogman Henry, and the Bill Black Combo as opening acts. The Beatles first number that night? "I Saw Her Standing There."

Now, I was an 11-year-old kid living in New York, and I wasn't at the Milwaukee concert. But never fear: MPTV is going to take us all back 50 years through the eyes and ears of some of the 12,000 folks who did attend that concert -- including show emcee, Milwaukee's "fifth Beatle," legendary disc jockey Bob Barry -- for the premiere of our new documentary, THE BEATLES INVADE MILWAUKEE, Monday night, September 1 at 9:00 on Channel 10.

It's going to be so much fun -- and we've even arranged for two free screenings of the documentary, open to the public, at the Milwaukee Theatre, Wednesday evening, August 27 at 6:00, and we've just added a second one at 7:00. Both include a talk-back session with Bob Barry, with program producer Raul Galvan, and other special guests. Now, the theater is right next to what is now the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena, and if you come to the screening, you'll have a chance to walk over to the arena, which is the actual site of the 1964 concert.

THE BEATLES INVADE MILWAUKEE is one of the big premieres on MPTV in September. Also coming your way is Ken Burns' newest film, THE ROOSEVELTS: AN INTIMATE HISTORY, about two of our most famous presidents, Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt, and Franklin's first lady, Eleanor. The seven-night and 14-hour mini-series premieres on Channel 10, Sunday night, September 14, at 7:00, and runs the entire week, through Saturday, September 20. Ken Burns says this may be his best work ever, so it's truly "must see" television!

Now, since we're talking about visits to southeastern Wisconsin, all three Roosevelts had memorable stops here. In 1912, former president and Progressive Party nominee Theodore was the victim of an unsuccessful assassination attempt outside the old Gilpatrick Hotel in Milwaukee. The bullet lodged in the manuscript in his coat pocket, and after the incident, Teddy calmly went over to the Milwaukee Auditorium, took out the speech, and gave the presentation. Franklin Roosevelt paid a visit to Milwaukee during his first presidential campaign in 1932, and ten years later to the Allis Chalmers plant in West Allis. And Eleanor came to town in 1936 to see the construction of the Village of Greendale, one of America's first "Greenbelt" planned communities, a New Deal project she and Franklin championed.

THE ROOSEVELTS: AN INTIMATE HISTORY is the first major documentary TV series to weave the individual stories of Theodore, Franklin, and Eleanor into a single narrative. It is an epic tale about one of America's most famous political families, but it's also a human story about love, betrayal, family loyalty, personal courage, and the conquest of fear.

So, THE BEATLES INVADE MILWAUKEE and THE ROOSEVELTS: AN INTIMATE HISTORY, two extraordinary programs among many excellent ones coming your way in September. I urge you to join us for them on Milwaukee Public Television. And I'll be back soon with more "Thinking Inside the Box."