Ken Burns reaches into his front-rightjeans pocket to retrieve a small, burnished silver heart, then a coin awarded to learning-disabled students who memorize The Gettysburg Address. Next he pulls out a button from the uniform of a soldier who landed at Normandy on D-Day and, finally, a Mini ball fired from a musket at Gettysburg.
The Emmy Award-winning documentarian travels every day with these four mementos, gifts from fans of his more than 30 films. They represent a tiny fraction of the tokens he has received --reminders of the impact his documentaries, from 1981s Brooklyn Bridge to 2017s The Vietnam War, have had on generations of viewers. The hardest part is [carrying] the abutment to the Brooklyn Bridge, jokes Dayton Duncan, his longtime collaborator.
For nearly four decades, Burns has been telling the story of America one topic at a time. For the past eight years, he has focused on country music, resulting in --simply and definitively named, like so many of his films --Country Music, a sprawling 16-and-a-half-hour, eight-part, $30million budget film airing on PBS 350 member stations starting Sept.15. Burns team interviewed over 100 people, including