Feb. 7, 2002
Vol. 21 No. 9

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    Marriage––Just a piece of paper?

    By Peter Schuler
    News Office

    Marriage––Just a Piece of Paper?, a documentary about the institution of marriage, is scheduled for broadcast Thursday, Feb. 14, on PBS stations nationwide. The program will air at 9 p.m., on WTTW-TV, Channel 11, in Chicago.

    The project was based on research developed by the Religion, Culture and Family Project, led by Don Browning, the Alexander Campbell Professor in the Divinity School, and was funded by the Lilly Endowment. The documentary offers perspectives on the personal and social costs to children, families and communities of the diminishing importance of the institution of marriage.

    The project is a joint production of the University, WTTW-TV and Brian Boyer Productions, Ltd. The producers interviewed 57 experts across the United States on the subject of marriage and numerous men, women and children who share in the film their experiences of marriage and family life.

    Bryan Zises (A.B., ’90), who earned his master’s degree in film from the University of Southern California, served as senior producer, and former University News Director Kathy Anderson was assistant producer. ABC News broadcast journalist Cokie Roberts narrates the documentary, which was written by marriage and family specialist Barbara Dafoe Whitehead (A.M. ’71, Ph.D. ’76). Eerdmans Publishing has released a companion book and a Web site at: http://www.marriagetv.uchicago.edu.

    Martin Marty, the Fairfax M. Cone Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in the Divinity School, said the documentary “includes thoughtful and empathetic experts and follows the trail of several participants in the chaos of marital and nonmarital relations, and follows them enough that you get to know them and to care about them.”

    Some of the experts interviewed for the production include Linda Waite, the Lucy Flower Professor in Urban Sociology and the College; William Julius Wilson of Harvard University; Ron Mincy of Columbia University; Judith Wallerstein of the Wallerstein Center; Clinton administration Domestic Policy Adviser William Galston; Bush administration Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services Wade Horn; as well as U.S. Senators Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) and Sam Brownback (R-Kan).