"J.K. Rowling Uncovers Roots in T.V. Show."  This is the current headline appearing on my Yahoo! mail site.  Rowling, authoress of the supremely popular book series Harry Potter, was featured in an episode of the BBC's genealogical game show (this is my personal term for it), Who Do You Think You Are?, to be aired "later this month."  According to the AP report of Rowling's connection with the show, "she was so emotional she cried several times."

The American version of the program has featured several celebrities.  I watched the episode which featured Sara Jessica Parker as the wide-eyed co-sleuth of her own family tree.  While the series has some merit (it promotes family history research) it is rather over-produced with its obligatory close-ups of teary-eyed celebrities.  The creators of the show must have known how valuable it was to potential popularity of the show to include close-ups of our favorite media people made vulnerable.  "People just like us"  --  that is the subtext of it.  It is my personal viewpoint that we do not need celebrity to see the value in researching our own families.  The program implies that there is something about "drama kids" like Parker, for example, and her successful acting cohorts that makes them intrinsically central to the discussion.  I don't believe it.    The show incorporates very little of the actual research process into the final product.  Of similar nature, PBS' History Detectives, on the other hand, has typically emphasized research over results.  Celebrity is not the point, opening the door is the point (though I must interject here that the PBS program has its own set of production agendas).   Signed G. Claire.

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    G. Claire is a descendant of Welsh Immigrants who came to California during the time of "the Great Excitement," also known as the Gold Rush.  She is, in addition, a descendant of young Mayflower passenger Mary Allerton and of Thomas Cushman, an Elder of the Plymouth Church.  The author is proud to be descended from Silvanus Brown, a member of that most notorious group of Vermont mobsters known as The Green Mountain boys.


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