Frontline Season 2009
S2009 E01Jan 6, 2009
The Old Man and the Storm Jan 6, 2009 Six months after Hurricane Katrina slammed into New Orleans, producer June Cross came across 82-year-old Herbert Gettridge working alone on his home in the lower Ninth Ward, a neighborhood devastated when the levees broke in August 2005. Over the next two years, Cross would document the story of the extended Gettridge clan -- an African-American family with deep roots in New Orleans -- as they struggled to rebuild their homes and their lives. Their efforts would be deeply impacted by larger decisions about urban planning, public health, and the insurance industry, by the decisions of policymakers about federal funding for rebuilding the Gulf, and state and city plans for dispersing those monies. The moving personal story of Mr. Gettridge and his family reveals the human cost of this tragedy, the continued inadequacies of government's response in the aftermath of Katrina, and how race, class, and politics have affected the attempts to rebuild this American city.
S2009 E02Jan 20, 2009
Dreams of Obama Jan 20, 2009 As Barack Obama prepares to assume the presidency on January 20th, 2009, FRONTLINE tells the story of how a little known state senator rose from obscurity to the White House in just over four years. Dreams of Obama draws on interviews with those closest to the next president to provide insight into how Obama might lead the country. A personal and political biography, the film begins with Obama's first appearance on the national stage at the 2004 Democratic convention, and follows his carefully choreographed and meteoric rise to prominence within the Democratic Party. Along the way, FRONTLINE filmmaker Michael Kirk examines how Obama's life experiences made him uniquely suited to launch his successful campaign to become the country's first black president. Obama's closest friends and advisors reveal how his time as a community organizer in Chicago, his election to the presidency of the Harvard Law Review, and rise to the top of Illinois politics taught him how to navigate America's complicated racial and political divides.
S2009 E03Feb 3, 2009
My Father, My Brother and Me Feb 3, 2009 In 2004, journalist Dave Iverson received the same news that had been delivered to his father and older brother years earlier: He had Parkinson's disease, a degenerative neurological disorder that affects about one million Americans. In a FRONTLINE and ITVS joint production, Iverson sets off on a personal journey to explore the scientific, ethical and political debates that surround Parkinson's, a disease at the center of the ongoing controversy over embryonic stem cell research. Iverson talks to scientists on the cutting edge of new cures and therapies for Parkinson's as well as a number of other major neurological conditions. And he has intimate conversations with fellow Parkinson's sufferers like actor Michael J. Fox and writer Michael Kinsley.
S2009 E04Feb 17, 2009
Inside the Meltdown Feb 17, 2009 FRONTLINE investigates the causes of the worst economic crisis in 70 years and how the government responded. The film chronicles the inside stories of the Bear Stearns deal, Lehman Brothers' collapse, the propping up of insurance giant AIG, and the $700 billion bailout. Inside the Meltdown examines what Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke didn't see, couldn't stop and haven't been able to fix.
S2009 E05Mar 24, 2009
Ten Trillion and Counting Mar 24, 2009 All of the federal government's efforts to stem the tide in the financial meltdown that began with the subprime mortgage crisis have added hundreds of billions of dollars to our national debt. FRONTLINE reports on how this debt will constrain and challenge the new Obama administration, and on the growing chorus on both sides of the aisle that without fiscal reform, the United States government may face a debt crisis of its own which makes the current financial situation pale in comparison. Through interviews with leading experts and insiders in government finance, the film investigates the causes and potential outcomes of -- and possible solutions to -- America's $10 trillion debt.
S2009 E06Mar 31, 2009
Sick Around America Mar 31, 2009 As the worsening economy leads to massive job losses -- potentially increasing the ranks of the tens of millions of Americans without health insurance -- FRONTLINE travels the country examining the nation's broken health care system and exploring the need for a fundamental overhaul. The scale of the problem now facing the Obama administration, FRONTLINE finds, is staggering, as lay-offs, major illness, and other unexpected life changes leave more and more Americans uninsured, underinsured or uninsurable. FRONTLINE also goes inside insurance companies to question executives on their policies, programs and priorities and examines the problems in one state's attempts at health care reform.
S2009 E07Apr 7, 2009
Black Money Apr 7, 2009 FRONTLINE investigative correspondent Lowell Bergman examines the shadowy world of international bribery. The story reveals how multi-national companies create slush funds, set up front companies, and make secret payments, all to get billions in business. But these practices are facing a new international crackdown, led by prosecutors at the U.S. Department of Justice and allies abroad. At the center of this is a controversial, ongoing investigation into the British-based multi-national BAE Systems and allegations about billion-dollar bribes.
S2009 E08Apr 21, 2009
Poisoned Waters Apr 21, 2009 More than two decades after the Clean Water Act was supposed to make America's waters clean enough for swimming and fishing again, two iconic waterways -- the great coastal estuaries of Puget Sound and the Chesapeake Bay -- are in perilous condition. With polluted runoff still flowing in from industry, agriculture and massive suburban development, scientists fear contamination to the food chain and drinking water for millions of people. A growing list of endangered species is also threatened in both estuaries. As a new president, Congress and the states set new agendas and spending priorities, FRONTLINE correspondent Hedrick Smith examines the rising hazards to human health and the ecosystem, and why its so hard to keep our waters clean.
S2009 E09Apr 28, 2009
The Released Apr 28, 2009 This year, hundreds of thousands of prisoners with serious mental illnesses will be released into communities across America, the largest exodus in the nation's history. Typically, mentally ill offenders leave prison with a bus ticket, $75 and two weeks worth of medication. Within eighteen months, nearly two-thirds are re-arrested. In this follow up to the groundbreaking film The New Asylums, FRONTLINE examines what happens to the mentally ill when they leave prison and why they return at such alarming rates. The intimate stories of the released -- along with interviews with parole officers, social workers, and psychiatrists -- provide a rare look at the lives of the mentally ill as they struggle to stay out of prison and reintegrate into society.
S2009 E10May 12, 2009
The Madoff Affair May 12, 2009 In the mid-1960s, Bernard Madoff tapped money from Jewish businessmen at exclusive country clubs with the promise of steady guaranteed returns on their investments. He then set his sights on Europe and Latin America, brokering deals with powerful hedge fund managers and feeder funds from Buenos Aires to Geneva. Billions of dollars were channeled to Madoff's investment firm, and his feeders became fabulously wealthy. The competition wondered how the man could produce such steady returns in good times and bad. There were allegations that Madoff was "front-running" or operating a Ponzi scheme, which the SEC investigated several times over the last two decades. But Madoff remained untouched until Dec. 11, 2008, when he admitted it was all "one big lie." FRONTLINE producers Martin Smith and Marcela Gaviria unravel the story behind the world's first truly global Ponzi scheme -- a deception that lasted longer, reached wider and cut deeper than any other business scandal in history.
S2009 E11Jun 16, 2009
Breaking the Bank Jun 16, 2009 The bets were huge and risky -- billions of dollars on the housing market. The upside was undeniable -- superbanks reaped billions of dollars, dominated the landscape, and gobbled up competitors. Then the bottom dropped out -- the massive losses on Wall Street nearly broke the banks. In the worst crisis in decades, brand name banks are on the brink. Now as the federal government implements an unprecedented intervention in the industry, FRONTLINE goes behind closed doors to tell the inside story of how things went so wrong so fast and to document efforts to stabilize Wall Street. Veteran FRONTLINE producer Michael Kirk (Inside the Meltdown) untangles the complicated financial and political web threatening one particular superbank-Bank of America.
S2009 E12Oct 13, 2009
Obama's War Oct 13, 2009 Tens of thousands of fresh American troops are now on the move in Afghanistan, led by a new commander and armed with a counterinsurgency plan that builds on the lessons of Iraq. But can U.S. forces succeed in a land long known as the "graveyard of empires"? FRONTLINE producers Martin Smith (Beyond Baghdad, Return of the Taliban) and Marcela Gaviria (In Search of Al Qaeda, The War Briefing) once again make the dangerous journey to the front lines of America's biggest fight. Through interviews with the top U.S. commanders on the ground, embeds with U.S. forces and fresh reporting from Washington, Smith and Gaviria examine U.S. counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan -- a fight that promises to be longer and more costly than most Americans understand.
S2009 E13Oct 20, 2009
The Warning Oct 20, 2009 In the devastating aftermath of the economic meltdown, FRONTLINE sifts the ashes for clues about why it happened and examines critical moments when it might have gone much differently. Looking back into the 1990s, veteran FRONTLINE producer/director Michael Kirk (Inside the Meltdown, Breaking the Bank) discovers early warnings of the crash, reveals an intense battle among high-ranking members of the Clinton administration, and uncovers a concerted effort not to regulate the emerging, highly complex, and lucrative derivatives markets, which would become the ticking time-bomb within the American economy.
S2009 E14Oct 27, 2009
Close to Home Oct 27, 2009 Producer Ofra Bikel chronicles how the middle class is faring in this recession through the stories of the people who she's come to know at the hair salon she's frequented for the past twenty years. The film reveals the struggles of a small business owner to stay afloat, her sister's risk of imminent foreclosure on her Florida home, and the various clients whose lives intersect at this New York City salon--from well-to-do bankers to struggling actors, each with a story to tell about how they're getting by in these turbulent times.
S2009 E15Nov 10, 2009
Alaska Gold Nov 10, 2009 FRONTLINE probes the fault lines of a growing battle in the Bristol Bay region of Alaska, home to the world’s last great wild sockeye salmon fishery – and enormous mineral deposits.
S2009 E16Nov 17, 2009
A Death in Tehran Nov 17, 2009 At the height of the protests following Iran's controversial presidential election this summer, a young woman named Neda Agha Soltan was shot and killed on the streets of Tehran. Her death -- filmed on a cameraphone, then uploaded to the web -- quickly became an international outrage, and Agha Soltan became the face of a powerful movement that threatened the hard-line government's hold on power. With the help of a unique network of correspondents in and out of the country, FRONTLINE investigates the life and death of the woman whose image remains a potent symbol for those who want to keep the reform movement alive. The film also explores a number of unanswered questions in the aftermath of the greatest upheaval in Iran since the 1979 revolution: How many were arrested and killed as the security forces attempted to contain the growing protest movement? To what extent was the presidential vote manipulated? What is the future of the movement that seems to have been silenced?
S2009 E17Nov 24, 2009
The Card Game Nov 24, 2009 As credit card companies face rising public anger, new regulation from Washington and a potential perfect storm of economic bad news, FRONTLINE correspondent Lowell Bergman examines the future of the massive consumer loan industry and its impact on a fragile national economy. In a joint project with The New York Times, Bergman and the Times talk to industry insiders, lobbyists, politicians and consumer advocates as they square off over new regulation and the possible creation of a consumer finance protection agency. How are the credit, debit and pre-paid card industries repositioning themselves to maintain high profits under the new rules? The stakes couldn't be higher as many fear the consumer loan industry could be at the center of the next crisis.