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a one-hour TVTV/KUHT video documentary for the
PUBLIC BROADCASTING SERVlCE
PEACE BOMB EXPLOSION is a proposed one-hour videotape documentary about Satguru Maharaj Ji, a 15-year-old Indian mystic acclaimed by his followers as "the Perfect Master," and MILLENNIUM 73, a three-day gathering of his American disciples, to be held in the Houston Astrodome in early November.
In addition to the Houston festival, expected to fill the Astodome (66,000 people), PEACE BOMB EXPLOSION will document SOUL RUSH 73, a nation-wide caravan of Maharaj Ji's followers from Boston to Houston, two weeks preceding MILLENNIUM 73. The program will also profile the Divine Light Mission,the guru's American organization, and Rennie Davis, the former anti-war spokesman who has become his most controversial American convert.
PEACE BOMB EXPLOSION will be co-produced by TVTV, the California-based video production group,and KUHT-TV, the PBS affiliate in Houston. Produced with portable ½" and 1" videotape equipment, in both color and black and white, the finished program will be mastered at KUHT and made available for PBS release within two weeks following MILLENNIUM 73.
Using new techniques and new technology, we plan to treat the story of Maharaj Ji and his American movement in a way that combines the immediacy of a breaking news event with the texture of an in-depth verite documentary.
TVTV COVERS MILLENNIUM 73
BOX 630 SAM FRANCISCO 94101
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WHO IS MAHARAJ JI? The 15-year-old Maharaj Ji is a bizarre figure in the recent surge of national interest in Eastern religious forms and leaders, especially among young people. The end of the anti-war movement,the accompanying despair with politics, and has spawned a kind of inner-peace movement: the practice of transcendental meditation, yoga, occult-guidance, and ascetic health rituals, the prominence of hitherto unknown gurus such as the Maharishi, Swami Satchi-dananda, Sri Chinmoy, and Maharaj Ji are all part of this new energy. The swift entry of these figures and their teachings into American pop culture is an anomaly of the 70's, compounded by the life-saving fervency of their youthful devotees. Guru Maharaj Ji is distinguished by his youth, his conspicuous affluence (he owns two private air-planes, a Rolls Royce Silver Cloud, and a myriad of other "technological toys"), the scope of his business organization, and his pronounced Godliness. Since his first visit to the US in 1971, his national following has grown from 5 to over 50,000; world-wide, he claims 5 million disciples, His US-based Divine Light Mission, headquartered in Denver, now includes 250 local offices, which serve as both religious ashrams, and centers for community missionary work.
The Divine Light Mission (DLM) is an astutely managed operation. The Denver headquarters maintains TELEX AND WATS line contact with all its national subsidiaries, oversees Shri Hans Productions, the mass media wing, and programs membership data on an IBM System 3 computer. And It Is Divine magazine, a slick, New York-styled monthly, claims a circulation of 250,000. Post-MILLENNIUM 73 plans call for a massive increase in DLM social services (schools, a World Peace Corps), hospitals, and in time, the construction of Divine City, a model community combining advanced technology and the teachings of Maharaj Ji. Supported largely by new converts (called premies) with large inheritances, the DLM is financially well-stocked; last November, it spent $638,000 on a caravan to India.
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Maharaj Ji's recent conversion of Rennie Davis -- one of the main architects of the anti-war movement of the 60's -- has caused a considerable stir in the media and on the college circuit, and has heightened both his influence and the curiosity of skeptics. Mr. Davis, once a Chicago 7 defendant, a May day leader, a confidant of the North Vietnamese, now a "blissed out" disciple of the Knowledge of the Perfect Master, is the chief organizer of MILLENNIUM 73.
WHO IS TVTV? TVTV is an experimental video production group which formed a year ago as TOP VALUE TELEVISION to cover the Democratic and Republican conventions in Miami Beach. The highly-acclaimed TVTV convention programs (see enclosed) were syndicated nation-wide by five cable television companies, and broadcast in eight cities by Westinghouse Broadcasting (Group W), PBS affiliates such as KQED in San Francisco and WTTW in Chicago, and VHF/UHF independents. The Democratic program, "The World's Largest TV Studio," recently received an award in political affairs programming from the National Cable Television Association.
This year, TVTV has produced a feature piece on Rolling Stone magazine for the PBS series, Behind The Lines, and is currently producing ADLAND, a study of TV admen, and PRIME TIME, a 90-minute special on television of the future. TVTV is also authoring a book on the future of electronic com- munications for Links Books.
Our work has evolved around the use of portable½" videotape equipment, which we feel offers distinct stylistic advantages over conventional television. The TVTV convention tapes established that broadcast quality programming could be pro- duced using highly flexible, portable video. PEACE BOMB EXPLOSION will be a further in pioneeringthis new low-cost technology.
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PEACE BOMB EXPLOSION will be shot with both ½" portables -- including portable color camera/ recorder units, introduced this year -- and with 1" mobile color equipment. The use of this innovative hardware -- given its cost-per-unit, raw stock costs, and operational advantages -- will give us a productionflexibility unheard of with conventional TV/filmequipment. In the co-production arrangement addition, with KUHT -- especially in post-production, ie,converting ½" to 2", again with new technology,and final editing -- will allow us to turn out a finished broadcast program quickly. The TVTV convention tapes, it's worth noting, were released within two weeks following each convention.
A PRODUCTION SCENERIO. We plan to cover the build-up to MILLENNIUM 73 as well as the unfolding of the Houston gathering itself. This will enable us to develop an on-camera rapport with Maharaj Ji and his followers, and to provide background material on the Divine Light Mission organization, and its key figures, especially Rennie Davis.
Thus, we will begin shooting sporadic activities surrounding the organization in September and October, such as Maharaj Ji's preliminary visit to his Denver headquarters on September 8th. Full-scale production will begin around October 25th, the date the SOUL RUSH caravan departs Boston for Houston.
SOUL RUSH will start out with 500 devotees, picking up others along the way, and is designed as a highly colorful media event to get the word out about Maharaj Ji and MILLENNIUM 73. It will stop in New York for a rally at the UN, in Washington for a candlelight march to the White House, and throughout the Midwest for parades and tent-meetings. It will culminate in a parade through Houston on November 7th, to meet Maharaj Ji, arriving by helicopter.
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Two TVTV crews will accompany the SOUL RUSH expedition. Simultaneously, one we will have crew traveling with Maharaj Ji on his privateplane for the week preceding his Houston appearance,and another covering the activities of Rennie Davis and the Houston organizers.
MILLENNIUM 73 is scheduled for November 8-9-10, in the Astrodome. A crowd of 70,000 is being planned for, including 3000 foreign visitors. The Houston office has booked all hotel space in Houston for that period, and has scheduled three days of music, dancing, theatre productions, Astrolight ceremonies, missionary workshops, and discourses by Maharaj Ji, his Holy family, and other dignitaries. They also plan to provide free food and shelter for all participants.
TVTV will organize to cover MILLENNIUM 73 in much the same manner that we covered the Miami conventions. We will provide central housingfor all our personnel, which will also serve as production headquarters. Aided by an advance intelligence staff, individual crews will develop their own stories, and integrate their vantage points as the event unfolds. In addition, we will have a 1" color mobile unit doing "pool" coverage of all scheduled events.
TVTV is in contact with the Divine Light Mission headquarters in Denver, and the MILLENNIUM 73 organizers in Houston, and have thus far received their full cooperation.
OUTCOME. PEACE BOMB EXPLOSION could be a pioneering PBS public affairs presentation, especially in its use of portable video technology for timely and in-depth coverage of events like MILLENNIUM 73. In addition, we feel the program will have a double focus: the first will be the person of Maharaj Ji, and the event itself; the second will be the larger context, the whole shift in energy which seems to be occurring in America from movements built on inner rage to ones sparked by a desire for inner peace. PEACE BOMB EXPLOSION should have an interest and a time span well beyond the topical significance of MILLENNIUM 73.