The Lost Tapes: Son of Sam

Network: Smithsonian Channel
Airs: Sunday, July 23, 2017
Part of the network series: The Lost Tapes

An in-the-moment retelling of one of the most notorious and bizarre series of murders in the history of the United States.  In 1976 and 1977 a chilling string of lover’s lane murders in and around New York City shocked the nation.  Part portrait of a city in decay and a city in fear, this episode uses rare images and footage to recount how a man who called himself “The Son of Sam”
terrorized America’s largest city.

The Lost Tapes: Patty Hearst

Network: Smithsonian Channel
Airs: Fall of 2017
Part of the network series: The Lost Tapes

Newspaper heiress Patricia Hearst was brutally kidnapped from her Berkeley, California apartment on Feb. 4, 1974.  For the next year-and-a-half, the daughter of one of America’s wealthiest families was held captive by an unknown group called The Symbionese Liberation Army.  At one point, Hearst was seen as a member of the group, even helping to rob a bank, armed with a machine gun.  Several members of the group were killed in a Los Angeles house fire following a shootout with the LAPD.  Hearst was eventually found by the FBI.  Her story — told here with no narration and no interviews, just rare and some previously not broadcast material — is a gripping tale of an American revolution story gone wrong.

The Lost Tapes: The LA Riots

Network: Smithsonian Channel
Part of the network series: The Lost Tapes

In April 1992, following the not guilty verdicts in the trial of four white LAPD officers who beat Los Angeles motorist Rodney King, the city erupted into civil unrest not seen in the United States since the 1960s.  This episode details all aspects of what happened during six days of rioting, told through rare media reports, home movies, police and fire radio dispatches and a remarkable series of recordings made by the DJ’s of Compton’s KJLH Radio, who abandoned their music format and became an all-talk station.  For six days, KJLH became a beacon of hope for a community under siege, letting callers vent their frustrations and keeping their listeners updated on areas to avoid, all the while staying calm under the most intense pressure of their careers.

The Lost Tapes: Pearl Harbor

Network: Smithsonian Channel
Part of the network series: The Lost Tapes

Most people know about the story of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on December 7, 1941.  But no documentary has ever told the story of that tragic day in this way.  Using only rare film footage, long-forgotten photographs and radio reports that were collecting dust in the United States National Archives since World War II, this episode of The Lost Tapes brings to life the disaster that was Pearl Harbor in true “You Are There” fashion.  From the ominous build-up to war, to sounds of the actual bombing itself, viewers follow moment-by-moment how the world learned about the events of that day.  The news unfolds in real time, transporting audiences back in time to the day the United States was attacked.

Challenger Disaster: Lost Tapes

Network: National Geographic Channel
Royal Television Society Nominee

On a cold morning in January, 1986, the world witnessed one of the worst disasters ever to be broadcast on live television — the explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger.  This was meant to be NASA’s big step to making space travel more accessible to private citizens.  Besides the astronauts on board was Christa McAulliff, the nation’s first teacher in space.  Christa was scheduled to transmit science lessons from space back to classrooms on earth.  Watching the shuttle’s launch that day were school children from around the United States.  The destruction of the shuttle, and the tragic loss of life, was in many ways the end of innocence for young people in America.  With so much discussion today of manned space flight to Mars and beyond, this special episode for National Geographic takes viewers through that tragic day moment by moment, and serves as a reminder of the sacrifices made by those who came before us to make the wonder of space flight possible.  

The Fidel Castro Tapes


Network: PBS and National Geographic International

For some, Cuba’s Fidel Castro was a hero, to others a despot.  Trying to understand Castro has always been tricky business. In this special episode for PBS and National Geographic International, 1895 Films traveled to Cuba to access long-forgotten archival material that details Castro rise to power.  With limited narration and no interviews, this film gives much-needed historical context to Castro’s early days, by using rare images and film footage not broadcast in 50 years… including several interviews with a young Castro speaking in English, a language that in his later years he refused to use.

9/11: The Heartland Tapes


Network: Smithsonian Channel

The tragedy of September 11th, played out in horrific detail with news reporting from the East Coast, especially New York. But across the nation, hundreds of local stations scrambled to make sense of the events from their own point of view. This is a television program that details the events of September 11th from a very different perspective- from America’s Heartland. This program uses only TV and radio broadcasts available that day to tell the story. There is no narration. There are no interviews. This is the closest viewers will come to experiencing what it’s like to live through September 11th–in the Heartland.