PBS gets the blues

BERLIN (Variety) - Top directors Martin Scorsese, Wim Wenders and Mike Figgis are joining forces with PBS to shoot six films about the blues.The projects

BERLIN (Variety) - Top directors Martin Scorsese, WimWenders and Mike Figgis are joining forces with PBS to shoot six filmsabout the blues.

The projects will examine the nature and emotional impact of bluesmusic and explain how it evolved from folk music into a world language.Also on board to shoot episodes are directors Marc Levin ("Slam"),Richard Pearce ("A Family Thing") and Charles Burnett ("TheWedding").

Scorsese is set to do the first picture in the series, "From Mali toMississippi," which traces the beginnings of the blues in Africa andits journey to the New World with original compositions fromcontemporary artists such as Ali Farka Toure, Salif Keita and HabibKoite.

Figgis takes a look at the blues' influence on British music of the1960s with artists including Eric Clapton, Tom Jones and the RollingStones.

Wenders' "Devil Got My Woman" looks at religious and secularelements in the music with profiles of Skip James, Blind Willie Johnsonand J.B. Lenoir. Wenders won acclaim for his 1999 Afro-Cubandocumentary "Buena Vista Social Club."

Levin's installment, "Godfathers and Sons," follows Public Enemyfrontman Chuck D and Chicago blues label scion Marshall Chess as theybring together hip-hop musicians and blues veterans for their jointlyproduced album.

Using documentary film material, Burnett highlights the blues'conflicting spiritual and carnal dimensions in "Warming by the Devil'sFire," the semi-fictional tale of a boy in 1955 Vicksburg, Miss. -- thedirector's hometown.

Memphis is the focus in Pearce's "Moaning at Midnight," whichshowcases the city that produced Howlin' Wolf, Otis Redding, B.B. Kingand Elvis Presley. The picture offers never-before-seen footage of Wolfand Redding.