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Thu, Nov. 3 at 7pm – The First Attack Ads: Hollywood vs. Upton Sinclair

Vintage TV
Ajeet Mestry
Vintage TV

In 1934, famed writer and socialist Upton Sinclair swept the Democratic primary for governor of California, leading a mass End Poverty movement. To defeat him that fall, his opponents created one of the dirtiest, and most influential, campaigns in U.S. history, and Hollywood took its first all-out plunge into politics.

Tune in Thu, Nov. 3 at 7pm on the WSIU stations: WSIU 8.1, WUSI 16.1, WSEC 14.1, WQEC 27.1 and WMEC 22.2 or access the WSIU local broadcast livestream online at pbs.org or via the PBS Video app.

About the Program
In The First Attack Ads: Hollywood vs. Upton Sinclair we explore how Sinclair’s grassroots End Poverty in California crusade, in the depths of the Great Depression, was destroyed by the powers-that-be, with most of the Hollywood moguls lending a hand.

This is the first film to focus on the revered MGM producer Irving Thalberg ordering the creation of the first “attack ads” to appear on a screen, a forerunner of today’s toxic media-based politics. The film reveals and analyzes highlights from the three “Thalberg shorts” along with interviews with participants in the EPIC campaign and observers of the crucial impact of those films in 1934–and their influence since.

The film also shows how the 1934 race marked the rise of political “spin doctors” and the modern campaign techniques that will continue to dominate campaigning in 2022 and beyond. Greg Mitchell, writer and director of the film, is author of the classic book about the race, The Campaign of the Century, recently named by the Wall Street Journal as one of the five best books ever written about an election. Producer Lyn Goldfarb directed an episode of PBS’s award-winning Great Depression series partly relating to the Sinclair race. (26 minutes, USA, 2022).

Information provided by gregmitchphoto.com.

Directed by Greg Mitchell and Produced by Lyn Goldfarb.

With over a decade of experience in public media, Stackhouse serves as the Assistant Director of Digital Services for WSIU Public Broadcasting. The Digital Service department supports the promotion of the station’s digital content and services including social media, web-based membership services and activities, and marketing and communications. Stackhouse's professional goals include creating an inclusive environment where media students at Southern Illinois University Carbondale can gain experience and professional development opportunities in various aspects of the broadcasting industry.
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