Television Event reveals how, 40 years ago, the ABC film The Day After (1983)  shook-up a nation, rattled President & helped avert Nuclear War

At a time when the world seems to be sleepwalking toward nuclear disaster, a new documentary aims to shake us into recognizing the danger - just as The Day After did 40 years ago. 

The director, producers and actors of The Day After will join at a theatrical grand premiere of the critically acclaimed, multi-award winning documentary Television Event in the small city where the original movie was filmed: Lawrence, Kansas -- at Liberty Hall on December 4th at 6:30 PM CT. This event will promote the forthcoming broadcasts on PBS stations coast-to-coast.

Television Event is a movie about a movie! It’s about the ABC broadcast of The Day After on November 20,1983 -- smack in the middle of the hottest period of the Cold War.

Watched by over 100 million Americans, over 200 million Russians and hundreds of millions around the world The Day After shook a nation, rattled president Reagan and helped lead to history’s biggest decline in nuclear weapons.

With irreverent humor and sobering apocalyptic vision, Television Eventdirector Jeff Daniels reveals how a few courageous individuals managed to stand up to corporate executives, aghast sponsors, and White House pressure to bring a vivid depiction of the realities of nuclear war right into our living rooms.

The premiere event will bring together, for the first time in 40 years, the team that made the ABC film including Actor Steve Guttenberg (Police Academy (1984) Cocoon (1985), Three Men and a Baby (1987) and iconic Director Nicholas Meyer (Time After Time (1979) Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan (1982)  Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991)Time After Time (1979) ) and Producer Bob Papazian (“Inherit the Wind (1988), Rome (2005)”) and Associate Producer Stephanie Austin (Terminator 2 (1991), True Lies (1994) on a hybrid panel.

Television Event film director Jeff Daniels; Ellen Moore, who played Joleen Dahlberg in The Day After; local casting director Jack Wright; and former Lawrence Mayor David Longhurst will join the discussion in-person. Lawrence, the geographic center of the US, with a history of twice rising from the ashes for its efforts to remain a slavery free state, was destined to become the center of a global discussion on nuclear war.

Before watching The Day After, Ronald Reagan was egged on by officials who believed he could fight and win a nuclear war. But, as he says in his memoirs, The Day After film left him “ deeply depressed.” It gave him nightmares. He eventually went to Reykjavik, met with Gorbachev and signed the Intermediate Range Weapons Treaty. “I can only tell you that we have both agreed that talking to each other instead of about each other is the way to keep out of trouble,” Reagan says, finally concluding in front of Congress weeks later, “To preserve our civilization in this modern age, a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.”

“Reagan finally recognized this publicly. But what about today’s leaders?” asks director Jeff Daniels. “Once again, we seem to be racing toward nuclear extinction on several fronts -"with the US and Russia rehashing the saber-rattling of the 1980s and 7 more countries threatening to press the red button." Yet those under age 50 seem blithely unaware of the danger. My team produced this film in the hopes of waking up the public, so we don’t sleepwalk into the apocalypse.”

On November 27 - December 1st Daniels and his Impact Producers; Arthur Kanegis and Melanie Bennett will be at the United Nations for the "States Parties Meeting" of the countries that have banned nuclear weapons.  Working with the Nobel Peace Prize winner ICAN and the Rotary Action Group for Peace, they plan to offer the film as an educational tool for activists and delegates to advance their outreach work.

Already 69 nations have ratified the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) - enough to make it official as international law. It outlaws producing, manufacturing, storing, transporting or in any way aiding those producing Nuclear Weapons.

“Since the nuclear ban treaty went into effect two companies have quit the nuclear weapons business,” says Susi Snyder, who works with ICAN to engage the financial sector. “They felt the pressure from countries which are complying with the ban - and from the growing percentage of the financial sector now avoiding investment in companies associated with harmful or morally objectionable activities, like building nuclear weapons.”

"Due to the fact that only twenty-four companies* profit from making special nuclear weapon parts, a complete world-wide ban is possible,” added Melanie Bennett.

Daniels concluded, “Our film, Television Event, reminds us that however polarized we may be ideologically, we can still come together, inform ourselves, and act to prevent the obscene devastation caused by nuclear weapons.”

“Absolutely riveting… oddly funny… a wild ride”-- Deadline

“A Blast…Witty, Moving and Engaging” -- The Hollywood Reporter 

92% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes

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This screening is hosted in partnership with The Free State Festival, KU Libraries, and the Watkins Museum of History.