75th Anniversary of Attack on Pearl Harbor is Recounted with Rare News Footage in Premiere of "The Lost Tapes"

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01 December 2016
The Lost Tapes: Pearl Tapes
National Archives and Records Administration
"The Lost Tapes: Pearl Tapes"
Premieres Sunday, December 4 at 9 PM ET/PT on Smithsonian Channel

         They were all major events that would leave a lasting imprint on America, and their narratives were shaped by the news coverage they received. With no narration or interviews, relying entirely on radio reports, television footage, rarely seen photographs, and other media, a new Smithsonian Channel series, “THE LOST TAPES,” will dive deeper into these gripping events, recapturing moments as they happened, raw and unfiltered.

          The first installment, “THE LOST TAPES: PEARL HARBOR,” will premiere Sunday, December 4 at 9 p.m. ET/PT, to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the attacks that brought the U.S. into World War II.

         “This is TV at its most raw, its most visceral,” said David Royle, Executive Vice President of Programming and Production, Smithsonian Channel. “It’s a unique approach. It plunges us into the midst of events, lets us witness the drama unfolding as if we were there at the time, and allows us to make up our own minds. It only uses contemporary reports and images and has an immediacy that is always fascinating and sometimes shocking.”

The Lost Tapes: Pearl Tapes
Naval History and Heritage Command
         “THE LOST TAPES: PEARL HARBOR” offers a detailed account of December 7, 1941, taken straight from original sources. Radio reports, film footage, audiotape, photos, wire dispatches and first-person accounts create a riveting, moment-by-moment experience of the “Day of Infamy.” Some of the primary media sources used in THE LOST TAPES: PEARL HARBOR have not been seen or heard in over 70 years.

         The production team scoured archives from around the world in search of unseen and unknown film and radio reports of the Pearl Harbor attack and its aftermath. Among the startling finds is the only known live report of the bombing as it was happening, from a local radio reporter calling into NBC who was standing on the roof of a publishing company in Honolulu. Shocked by what he saw, he felt compelled to add, “It is no joke. This is a real war.” The first official response from the White House didn’t come from President Franklin D. Roosevelt, but from his wife, Eleanor, who assured her country, “We know what we have to face, and we know that we are ready to face it.”

The Lost Tapes
- National Archives and Records Administration
         “THE LOST TAPES” series allows viewers to experience the hours and days immediately surrounding the Pearl Harbor attack as if it was 1941 all over again and from a perspective not seen or heard by even those who followed the news coverage at the time.

          Ensuing episodes of “THE LOST TAPES” will air in 2017 timed to their anniversaries: The Los Angeles riots of April, 1992 that followed the acquittal of four officers charged with using excessive force on stranded motorist Rodney King, the capture of the Son of Sam serial killer in New York City in August, 1977, and the kidnapping of Patty Hearst by the domestic terrorist group the Symbionese Liberation Army, which ended in her arrest in September 1975.

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