Sabato's Crystal Ball

“This Is the House That Jack Built” Premieres

New documentary examines new and little-known stories about JFK

UVA Center for Politics October 5th, 2017

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On Wednesday evening, the University of Virginia Center for Politics and Community Idea Stations hosted the premiere of their new documentary, This is the House that Jack Built, at the Library of Virginia in Richmond. Check your local listings for the documentary, which will begin airing on public television in mid-October.

Directed by Paul Tait Roberts and hosted by Center for Politics Director Larry J. Sabato, This is the House that Jack Built touches on familiar themes of JFK’s life and his ascent to the presidency, his mistakes, and his triumphs. But the film also explores new and little-known stories, some which surfaced after the Center for Politics’ Kennedy Half Century project in 2013, which included Sabato’s New York Times-bestselling book, an Emmy Award-winning documentary, and an Emmy Award-nominated Massive Open Online Course.

These new stories include a CIA staffer and her discovery of a file on Lee Harvey Oswald that soon thereafter went missing; the sonic analysis of the infamous dictabelt recording from the day of Kennedy’s assassination; and the Warren Commission’s pressure on 19-year-old Buell Wesley Frazier, who drove Oswald to work on Nov. 22, 1963. This program also explores why JFK is still relevant and why he so interests the public even 100 years after his birth and more than half a century after his assassination scarred the nation.

A trailer for the documentary is available here. The film will also have a premiere in Charlottesville on Oct. 11, at 6:30 p.m. in Minor Hall 125 on the Grounds of the University of Virginia. The Charlottesville event is free and open to the public, and those interested in attending should register here.

This is the House that Jack Built is the latest collaboration between the Center for Politics and Community Idea Stations, which regularly partner to produce documentary films for public television on American politics and history. Three of their recent documentaries won Emmy Awards in the categories of Best Historical Documentary and Best Topical Documentary: 2016’s Feeling Good About America, which chronicled the 1976 presidential election; 2013’s The Kennedy Half Century, which explored President Kennedy’s life and legacy; and 2012’s Out of Order, which examined partisan polarization in Washington, DC.