|FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ)|
BY JAMES BURKE FANS
Dear Friends: The following information is in response to the handful of questions I (Tom Palmer) regularly receive by e-mail from James Burke fans such as yourself. What follows are conclusions I have drawn by piecing together communications I have had with Mr. Burke himself, various business representatives and numerous fans. The answers I have provided are based on a number of assumptions that may or may not be true, so be forewarned that my comments are far from being definitive or accurate. That said, I hope you find my "best educated guesses" to be helpful. -- Tom Palmer (webmaster)
(1) - "The Day The Universe Changed" Videos & DVD's
In late 2008 Documentary Video (Ambrose Video) acquired the rights to distribute Home Use Version DVDs of James Burke's popular "The Day The Universe Changed" television series. As of January 2009, the purchase price for the complete 5 DVD set is listed as $149.99. This is a product that many fans have desired to own for a significant period of time. Click here to visit the "Universe" DVD order page.
Previously, the only one known source for "The Day The Universe Changed" videos was Churchill Video / SVE Media. This outlet sold an institution-only set which cost $750.00.
(2a) - "Connections" Videos Sold Outside The USA
(2b) - "Connections" Videos Sold In Non-English Languages
To my knowledge, the only sources for "Connections" videos and DVD's are Ambrose Video (which ONLY sells within the bounds of the United States) amazon.com, shoppbs.org, ebay.com and homecomputergames.com.
Regarding "Connections" videos in non-English languages, I believe Ambrose Video did market a Spanish-language version at one time in the past, but it was discontinued because it was not profitable.
(3) - Rare & Obscure James Burke Documentaries
This is tricky. First, you must realize that Mr. Burke does not own the rights to the programs he has appeared in. Therefore he does not control their distribution. Secondly, many of Mr, Burke's earliest programs were done for the BBC. At that time, there was no market for the re-playing of television programs (due to there not being any VCRs or DVD-players in existence), so the BBC simply erased many of their old tapes and used them to record new programs. So, unless a crafty individual or two out there has managed to procure a copy or original of Burke's work, much of that material has been lost forever.
Regarding slightly more recent documentaries, I do not have any information about the condition or ownership of programs such as "Masters of Illusion", "The Real Thing" or others which Mr. Burke mentions in his CV. It is uncertain what PBS has done with their master recordings of shows Burke has done for them.
UPDATE: Segments from a number of early James Burke programs and documentaries have began to show up on YouTube.com.
(4) - Contents Of James Burke Lectures
Sadly to say, I have never attended an official James Burke lecture. Be that as it may, I have heard that Royce Carlton, his lecture agent, sometimes has his live performances recorded. And it could be the institutions that hire Mr. Burke to speak also choose to document his visits on occasion. It would be my guess, however, that recordings or transcripts of Mr. Burke's lectures are NOT for direct public review.
If you think about it, freely available copies of Mr. Burke's lectures would undermine his demand as a public speaker. It would be much easier and far cheaper to watch a recording of Mr. Burke or read what he has said than to actually have him come by in person for an event and talk. I am certain that Mr. Burke makes part of his living from public speaking and would not enjoy having this part of his livelihood diminished. Nor would his lecture agent.
(5a) - Questions About Historical Moments
(5b) - Questions About Topics In Burke TV Programs
From time to time, a number of James Burke fans write in with the hope that James will personally answer a particular historical question they have. Or someone will want more clarification of a point discussed in one of the "Connections" programs.
While Mr. Burke is a friendly, generous and helpful man, who loves to discuss history endlessly, I would like to suggest to fans that he is not a library "reference desk". As I have come to know Mr. Burke, I have found him to be a very busy person who constantly works on writing books, giving lectures and producing television programs. Mostly nowadays he is concentrating his attention on the creation of a massive online educational tool he calls the "Knowledge Web".
I will not speak for Mr. Burke, but I doubt that he really has much time to take e-mail questions from individual fans. I imagine that he would like to spend what free time he does have in the company of his lovely wife. Therefore, I attempt to guard his privacy and e-mail address to the best of my ability.
My suggestion to Burke fans who have historical questions is to do what Burke has done himself. Go to the library and look things up in a book. Regarding the subject matter in Mr. Burke's TV programs, that information is duplicated in many of his written works. It would be an easy task to find the book that corresponds to any particular Burke series and look in the index for the topic you are interested in knowing more about.
(6) - Connections: A Mind Game - CDROM
Every once in a while, a person will be looking for a copy of the fascinating Connections CD-ROM computer game. Although it was discontinued by The Learning Channel some time ago, copies can frequently be found at CD Access and on eBay.
For those of you who have the game and need support, there is still a page up at The Discovery Channel site.
(7) - Music Found In Burke TV Programs
Yes, we would all like to know what those wonderful musical excerpts are in the "Connections" and "Universe" programs. Mr. Burke himself has mentioned that most musical selections were left up to whoever it was that either produced, directed or edited the episodes (other than Mr. Burke himself). The overseeing people at the production companies are the ones who are "in the know". Unfortunately, that doesn't get us too far.
As a result, some fans have started to try and figure this problem out for themselves.
(8) - Proposals & Remarks Intended For Mr. Burke
Lastly, there are those individuals who want to run an idea for a project passed Mr. Burke, or simply want to share a comment directly with him. If you have such a message, please run it by me first and I would be happy to consider it's value for Mr. Burke's attention. Please contact me at: email@example.com
If you like, you may also send comments and inquiries to Mr. Burke in care of his lecture agent, Royce Carlton: firstname.lastname@example.org