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The Forgetting: A Portrait of Alzheimer’s

“MasComm used intelligence, experience and imagination to help us mold a successful outreach initiative for The Forgetting: A Portrait of Alzheimer's. We could not have done it without them.”
—Naomi Boak,
Executive Producer, The Forgetting: A Portrait of Alzheimer’s.

“Strange how a harrowing program about a nightmare disease can become a major feel-good event for public TV.”
—Steve Behrens, editor, Current, “Proud Memory: The Forgetting,” June 21, 2004.

The Forgetting: A Portrait of Alzheimer’s is a 90-minute national prime time documentary that premiered on PBS on January 21, 2004. Based on the critically acclaimed book by David Shenk, The Forgetting provides a compassionate, all-encompassing look at this devastating disease that touches nearly every American family, weaving together the history and science of Alzheimer’s with powerful portrayals of families and individuals who have been affected. Rarely has any broadcast and outreach program touched so many in so many ways.

The Forgetting and its companion show Alzheimer's: The Help You Need, hosted by David Hyde Pierce, was designed to help people better understand Alzheimer’s disease, spotlighting the role of caregivers and national policy issues related to this emerging epidemic. Grants totaling $270,000 were made to 30 PBS stations on a competitive basis to assist with localized follow-up broadcasts and community engagement efforts designed to complement the national program.

The documentary has tapped a wellspring of interest and support within the public television community and beyond. With a diversity of activities from Pet Partners training in the therapeutic use of animals, to workshops for children who are around someone with Alzheimer’s disease to town hall meetings, The Forgetting outreach helped patients, families and caregivers cope with the isolation and frustration that so often accompany the disease.

MasComm Associates was contracted to design and manage the national outreach component of the project, working with both national partner organizations and public television stations, to increase the awareness of Alzheimer’s disease. Grantees were furnished with high-caliber, timely materials and ongoing outreach support, including an informational teleconference and an on-line tool kit of resources designed to encourage local activities and events. Project Directors Karen Hodgkiss and Roselle Kovitz also managed relationships with key national partners, such as the Alzheimer’s Association.

A groundbreaking, interactive Web site was developed in conjunction with the documentary to serve as a central hub for Alzheimer’s information and support, providing advice, resources and opportunities for Alzheimer’s families to share emotions and insights

The Forgetting is a production of Twin Cities Public Television with funding from the MetLife Foundation. Additional support was provided for the outreach campaign by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.