I hadn't heard of Mildred Fish-Harnack until I was reviewing a biography of the Milwaukee woman a few years ago.
The drama of her story immediately struck me – a Milwaukee-born woman living in Germany as it moved toward war, a member first of the intellectual and soon a part of a circle of conspirators working against Adolf Hitler's regime.
There's a dramatic ending, and it's not a spoiler to lay it the historical facts: She's the only American woman ordered executed by Hitler, himself.
I became reacquainted with her earlier this year in Erik Larson's new "In the Garden of Beasts," where we see her as the friend of the playgirl daughter of the U.S. ambassador in to Germany.
Then I learned "Wisconsin's Nazi Resistance, the Mildred Fish-Harnack Story," a new Wisconsin Public TV documentary was debuting tonight at 8 on Channel 10 in Milwaukee.
At first, I was apprehensive. Such local or regionally produced documentaries can go either way. I didn't have to worry.
Screening the one-hour documentary, narrated by Greendale's own Jane Kaczmarek, I was as impressed as I've ever been by a Wisconsin Public TV production (Wisconsin Public TV and Milwaukee Public TV, by the way, are two separate organizations). It's as well-produced as the best national productions.
Told simply, with the familiar combination of still photos, talking heads and period video to set the scene, it lays out Harnack's story, from her childhood in Milwaukee, through her University of Wisconsin-Madison days, where she made a name for herself, to her meeting with German student Arvid Harnack, whom she eventually married.
An intellectual through and through, Fish-Harnack found her intellectual world challenged by the Nazi regime. She and her husband began her battle against it.
The film tells not only that story, but how the couple's Soviet connections and leftist inclinations led them to be officially forgotten in the U.S., and, in some cases, capitalized on by the Communist regime in East Germany.
While this is a great addition to the growing Fish-Harnack library, I still think there's a docudrama version to be made of this story.
"Wisconsin's Nazi Resistance" repeats Sunday morning at 2 and Nov. 15 at 7 p.m. Here's the trailer:
WTMJ has another Brewers month: The monthly Arbitron numbers show WTMJ-AM (620) atop two key categories for October. And the Milwaukee Brewers' post-season play certainly didn't hurt.
For all listeners 25-54, the key demographic, the top five stations throughout the week were No. 1 WTMJ, WMIL-FM (106.1), WHQG-FM (102.9), WRIT-FM (95.7), and WXSS-FM (103.7).
Among all listeners, 6 and older, it was WTMJ, WMIL, WRIT, WXSS and WISN-AM (1130).
On TV: Time Warner Cable, southeast Wisconsin's biggest programming provider, has added four HD channels to its expanding lineup. The Hub HD is at Channel 1111, GSN HD is Channel 1218, ShoExtreme HD is Channel 1645, and Starz Kids and Family is Channel 1680.
- It's looking more and more like Ricky Gervais will be back to host the Golden Globes again, which is good news if you like mean comedy directed at big stars. And I do.
- Katie Couric has the farewell sit-down with Regis Philbin on ABC at 7 p.m., Nov. 17, on Channel 12. He signs of his from his show the next morning.
- Speaking of ABC, it's picked up "Once Upon at Time," "Happy Endings," and "Last Man Standing." And, for some reason, it's ordered three more scripts for "Pan Am."
- And, the last bit from ABC, the network is airing a 90-minute Lady Gaga special on Thanksgiving night.
That darn "Jeopardy!": Every once in a while, "Jeopardy!" – which airs at 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday on Channel 58 – lets loose with a bit of unexpected humor, like this answer, er, question, from the show last week.
Tim Cuprisin is the media columnist for OnMilwaukee.com. He's been a journalist for 30 years, starting in 1979 as a police reporter at the old City News Bureau of Chicago, a legendary wire service that's the reputed source of the journalistic maxim "if your mother says she loves you, check it out." He spent a couple years in the mean streets of his native Chicago, and then moved on to the Green Bay Press-Gazette and USA Today, before coming to the Milwaukee Journal in 1986.
A general assignment reporter, Cuprisin traveled Eastern Europe on several projects, starting with a look at Poland after five years of martial law, and a tour of six countries in the region after the Berlin Wall opened and Communism fell. He spent six weeks traversing the lands of the former Yugoslavia in 1994, linking Milwaukee Serbs, Croats and Bosnians with their war-torn homeland.
In the fall of 1994, a lifetime of serious television viewing earned him a daily column in the Milwaukee Journal (and, later the Journal Sentinel) focusing on TV and radio. For 15 years, he has chronicled the changes rocking broadcasting, both nationally and in Milwaukee, an effort he continues at OnMilwaukee.com.
When he's not watching TV, Cuprisin enjoys tending to his vegetable garden in the backyard of his home in Whitefish Bay, cooking and traveling.