The name of OZY’s first television series, The Contenders – 16 for ’16, may remind you of the name of popular ESPN series 30 for 30. The concept is similar as well.
The documentary series, which will air on PBS beginning Sept. 13, is a set of hour-long episodes focused on uncovering the stories behind political candidates and campaigns past. Each episode will focus on the commonalities between two candidates who seem very different at first glance. The first episode is a perfect demonstration of that idea, focusing as it does on Shirley Chisholm, the first female and black candidate for president of the United States, and Sen. John McCain.
While this represents OZY’s first foray into television, it is not its first partnership with PBS. The digital publication entered into a content sharing partnership with PBS NewsHour last year.
OZY co-founder Carlos Watson, who has appeared on NewsHour as part of that partnership, will host The Contenders. “I’ve been a political fanatic all my life, and thought I’d studied every aspect of campaigns, but it was utterly fascinating for me to hear directly from the candidates and their advisors what was going on behind the scenes that led to the newspaper headlines I’d read and the footage I’d seen on television,” Watson said in a statement about the appeal of the series. “We tend to see scripted moments and strategic analysis so much that it’s easy to forget the candidates are people making choices and responding with human emotions.”
This may be OZY’s first series, but probably not its last. The organization is currently working on development for 16 shows, including three that are actively being filmed.
You can watch a preview clip below: