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LOS ANGELES TIMES

New Format Set for KCET’s ‘Life & Times’

October 01, 1993 | Judith Michaelson

KCET-TV Channel 28 inaugurates the third season of its local series “Life & Times” tonight with substantial format changes: four in-studio, “talking head” programs a week instead of three, one documentary program instead of two, and a greater focus on statewide issues.

Executive producer Blaine Baggett said the decision to go with one documentary a week was motivated by wanting to add state issues into regular discussion.

“There’s not enough attachment from Southern California to the rest of the state,” said Baggett, also KCET director of public affairs and feature documentaries. “It was like this gaping hole. And I felt (this) was one dire need that public television could try to begin to fulfill.”

Blaine Baggett, who had been director of public affairs and feature documentaries, is now vice president of program development, scheduling and acquisition. Valerie Zavala, who was executive producer of the station’s weeknight series “Life & Times,” has become vice president of news and public affairs.

“I see them as two separate functions,” Al Jerome, KCET’s president and chief executive officer, noted Wednesday. “Development and acquisition as being one function, whereas the local program effort–the ‘Life & Times’ and community outreach and local specials . . . [is] a separate function. Val and Blaine are uniquely qualified to steer [that] and they have an excellent working relationship.”

Baggett, 45, who came to KCET in 1985, is responsible for all programming except in Zavala’s area of local news and public affairs. “Documentaries, children’s programs, [President] Al Jerome’s concerted effort to make a foray into Hollywood more. . . . I’m just going to have a broader canvas to paint on,” he explained.

Baggett, who produced such PBS series as “Secret Intelligence,” “The Astronomers” and the upcoming “The Great War,” an eight-hour documentary about World War I, said the new job essentially will require him to relinquish hands-on producing chores.

“If we can pursue another great series like ‘The Great War,’ ” he said, “I would have to hand it off to another executive producer. [But] I would still oversee it. I was the person who came up with the [‘Great War’] idea, developed it and found the money for it. So I will [still] be developing ‘Great Wars’ [and] handing it off to someone else to then execute.”

Although Baggett had been responsible for overseeing “Life & Times,” he gives that baton to Zavala: “As much as I hate letting go of it, I have plenty of fish to fry.”

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