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Casting Call for Host of “Mystery of Matter”

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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Are you a chemist or love chemistry? Are you as engaging on camera as Carl Sagan, Neil DeGrasse Tyson or Bill Nye? Do you appreciate the human side of science discovery? Are you madly in love with intelligently done programming such as appears on PBS?

I’ve seen many casting calls and am certain that what follows (from the website Mystery of Matter: Search for the Elements) is the most thorough and well thought out description I’ve ever come across for the type of host the producers are hoping to find. Read the description carefully and decide if you would like to apply to this casting call.

“The Mystery of Matter: Search for the Elements is a multimedia project about one of the great adventures in the history of science: the long (and continuing) quest to understand what the world is made of – to identify, understand and organize the basic building blocks of matter. In a nutshell, the project is about the human story behind the Periodic Table of the Elements.”

“Funded by the National Science Foundation, the project is being produced by Moreno/Lyons Productions, a Boston company headed by two longtime contributors to public television, in association with Oregon Public Broadcasting, a leading producer of programming for PBS.”

Hugo Becker and Ava DeLuca-Verley as Antoine Lavoisier and Marie Anne Lavoisier

“Search for the Elements tells the stories of seven major characters whose discoveries, spanning nearly two centuries, laid the foundation for the modern understanding of matter. To knit these seven stories into a coherent whole, we’ll rely on an on-camera host, who will also serve as the narrator. The host will not be present in every scene, as Jacob Bronowski and James Burke were in their landmark seriesAscent of Man and Connections. Nor will the host be a “bookend” celebrity who appears only at the beginning and end of the program. Instead, the host will appear on camera perhaps 4-8 times per hour. Most (if not all) of the host scenes will be shot in a studio, but our goal is to make each scene as active as possible. Rather than delivering conventional “stand-ups,” the host will give demonstrations or use interactive graphics to make a key point in a lively way.

One of the host’s main roles will be to maintain the sense of mystery throughout the series. He or she will continually remind viewers that matter was a mystery for the scientists we’ll be featuring – that these men and women were searching for answers without the benefit of later discoveries we now take for granted; and that each time they solved one mystery, another one arose. The host will serve as our guide, leading viewers on a journey of discovery as we retrace the steps of the “chemical detectives” who, clue by hard-won clue, solved the mystery of matter.

Host qualifications In our search for a host, we’re looking for someone who can be as engaging as such popular PBS hosts as Carl Sagan, Bill Nye, Michael Wood, Alan Alda and Neil DeGrasse Tyson. Our hope is to find someone new from the chemistry community. The host needn’t be famous, a Nobel Prize winner or even a leading researcher. S/he might be a great teacher, for example, at the college or even community college or high school level. We’d like to find someone young enough to go on and serve as the host of later chapters in the continuing Mystery of Matterseries, so preference will be given to candidates under 60. Minority candidates are strongly encouraged to apply. Since many of the host scenes will involve performing chemical demonstrations, candidates who already have that skill will have a leg up. But the most important qualification is that s/he be a gifted chemical communicator — comfortable on camera, at ease with chemistry, and able to present with authority, enthusiasm and feeling for the very human story we’re telling.

Do you have what it takes to be host of The Mystery of Matter – or do you know someone who does? If so, send us an email with a link to a YouTube video illustrating the candidate’s skills as a communicator of chemistry. Be sure to include a way to contact the candidate. We will follow up with the most promising candidates. A subsequent screen test may be required.”

Please send your emails to this address:

Chemistry.Host@gmail.com

Best of luck!

photos from Mystery of Matter website, courtesy of Jeffrey Dunn

 

Joanne Manaster About the Author: Joanne Manaster is a university level cell and molecular biology lecturer with an insatiable passion for science outreach to all ages. Enjoy her quirky videos at www.joannelovesscience.com, on twitter @sciencegoddess and on her Facebook page at JoanneLovesScience Follow on Twitter @sciencegoddess.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





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  1. 1. jtdwyer 7:58 am 03/4/2012

    The program sounds remarkably reminiscent of the (at least) two part series aired on the Science Channel in 2011, “Unlocking the Universe” narrated by Prof. Jim Al-Khalili.
    The segment, “The Hidden Order” “…recounts how 19th century chemists sought to find order in what seemed to be the random world of the elements and how their quest eventually led to the extraordinary creation of the periodic table of the elements.”
    In the segment, “Unleashing the Elements”, “Chemists sought to control and combine elements in new ways in the 20th century and their incredible breakthroughs led to unimaginable consequences with the discovery of how scientists could split atoms to unleash incredible energy and force.”
    It was a very nice historical summary…

    Link to this

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