Documentary ‘Herblock — The Black & the White’ to Premiere January 27 on HBO
via press release:
HERBLOCK – THE BLACK & THE WHITE, THE STORY OF
THE LEGENDARY EDITORIAL CARTOONIST WHO GAVE AMERICA
A POWERFUL EDITORIAL VOICE FOR MORE THAN HALF A CENTURY,
DEBUTS JAN. 27, EXCLUSIVELY ON HBO
For 55 years, Herbert L. Block’s signature “Herblock” was affixed to memorable cartoons that were published daily in the Washington Post and syndicated throughout the country in more than 1,800 newspapers. A true patriot, he elevated editorial cartoons to a level rivaling and, in critical ways, surpassing prose journalism, giving “a voice to the voiceless” through strokes of a pen.
From multiple Emmy® winners Michael Stevens and George Stevens, Jr., HERBLOCK – THE BLACK & THE WHITE is the defining portrait of arguably the greatest editorial cartoonist in American history. Featuring interviews with former colleagues and fans such as Tom Brokaw, Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein, Ted Koppel, Lewis Black, Gwen Ifill and Jon Stewart, this fascinating documentary debuts MONDAY, JAN. 27 (9:00-10:35 p.m. ET/PT), exclusively on HBO.
Other HBO playdates: Jan. 27 (4:20 a.m.) and 30 (11:00 a.m.), and Feb. 2 (9:15 a.m.), 5 (2:15 p.m.) and 15 (3:10 p.m.)
HBO2 playdates: Jan. 29 (8:00 p.m.) and 31 (7:50 a.m.), and Feb. 6 (9:35 a.m.) and 24 (2:30 p.m.)
In HERBLOCK – THE BLACK & THE WHITE, actor Alan Mandell portrays the cartoonist (who died in 2001) in scenes scripted from his speeches and interviews, and filmed in a re-creation of Herblock’s Washington Post office, filled with his personal effects and drawing tools.
Herbert L. Block grew up in Chicago and learned to draw from his father, an inventor, who suggested he combine his first and last names into the single Herblock. Block started taking classes at the Art Institute of Chicago at age 11, winning an award at age 12. He published his first cartoon in the Chicago Daily News in 1929, and soon established a reputation for challenging sacred cows of all kinds. He won the first of three Pulitzer Prizes in 1942, and his scathing caricatures of Adolf Hitler accurately portended the atrocities of WWII. After a stint in the Army, Block joined the Washington Post, where his reputation soared and his cartoons were syndicated. Herblock’s voice became, says Roger Rosenblatt, “the conscience of the country.” He drew his final cartoon at age 92, two weeks before 9/11.
Described by Jon Stewart as “one of the tentpoles of 20th-century satire,” Block worked tirelessly to meet his self-imposed quota of one cartoon, five days a week. Often the focal point of the Post’s editorial section, his images spoke to readers in an immediate, visceral way. He could not be swayed by power or politics, refusing to back down to Sen. Joseph McCarthy (coining the term “McCarthyism”) or Richard Nixon, whose connection to Watergate was presciently depicted in early cartoons. Block later shared a fourth Pulitzer with the Post for its work on Watergate.
No president escaped Block’s penetrating wit – even those he admired – when he felt they failed to live up to their promises or the standards of the office. “The free press was established to serve as a reminder to public servants that they are, well, public servants,” he said.
Over his lengthy career, Block’s cartoons showed his affection and affinity for the common man, and helped shape public opinion on Civil Rights, nuclear weapons, poverty, education, smoking and gun control, among other subjects.
An official selection of the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival, HERBLOCK – THE BLACK & THE WHITE is HBO’s third collaboration with the father-and-son team of Michael Stevens and George Stevens, Jr., following the highly acclaimed Obama inaugural concert at the Lincoln Memorial in 2009 and the HBO Films presentation of George Stevens’ play “Thurgood,” directed by Michael Stevens, in 2011.
Combined, George and Michael Stevens have received an Academy Award®, 25 Emmy® Awards, two Peabody Awards, eight Writers Guild Awards and two NAACP Image Awards. Michael Stevens has also been nominated for a Directors Guild of America Award (“Thurgood”) and a Grammy Award (for producing Bettye LaVette’s “Interpretations: The British Rock Songbook”).
HERBLOCK – THE BLACK & THE WHITE was directed by Michael Stevens; written by Sara Lukinson and Michael Stevens; produced by George Stevens, Jr. and Michael Stevens; co-producer, Sara Lukinson; supervising producer, Bill Urban; editor, Jake Hamilton; music by Rob Mathes; director of photography, Zoran Popovic; production designer, Brian Stonestreet.