Ken isn't the only Burns bringing a documentary to PBS this month. His younger brother, Ric, unveils the multi-part "New York: A Documentary Film" at 9 p.m. Nov. 14-18 on WQED/WQEX.
But there's no sibling rivalry between the two.
"You know, we're born 18 months apart, and I'm like an inch and a half taller than he is," Ric Burns said, dismissing any talk of brotherly strife. "I think it's true to say Ken did not invent the historical documentary, but I also think it's true to say that he reinvented it for the contemporary culture."
"New York," narrated by David Ogden Stiers, offers a chronological history of the city that never sleeps. It begins in 1609 and concludes its first 10 hours with the construction of the Empire State Building in 1931. A final installment in the 12-hour saga of "New York" will air in the spring.
"What we're showing here on the eve of the next millennium is everything you really need to know about New York's past," Burns said at a PBS news conference this summer, "and picking up the story in the first year of the new millennium, which brings it down to the present and shows you New York's been kind of inventing the future for itself and for America for about 200 years now."