Free to Be... a Family


Release Date: 

Status: Released

Running time: 1h


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Seminal TV special about two groups of children, one in New York City and the other in Moscow, who befriend each other over a satellite connection and find common ground. The Muppets and several celebrities make a cameo.

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Free to Be... A Family is a television special hosted by Marlo Thomas broadcast on December 14, 1988. It was especially notable as a joint production of ABC and Soviet Union television (the USSR then three years from collapse). It was nominally a sequel to the popular 1974 ABC Afterschool Special Free to Be... You and Me, also hosted by Thomas. Among the performers on the 1988 show were The Muppets, Jon Bon Jovi, Penn and Teller, Carly Simon, Lily Tomlin, and Robin Williams.After her husband, talk show host Phil Donahue, hosted a series of U.S.-Soviet space-bridge telecasts throughout the `80's, Thomas decided that this kind of international understanding and cooperation should start at a much earlier age. "The purpose of the special was to emphasize the fact that kids in the U.S. and Russia are much the same and can relate to one another, in hopes of bringing peace between the nations."Prior to the television special, there was a book, with contributions by Christopher Cerf among others, and a record album, both under the same title.It won the 1989 Emmy Award for Outstanding Children's Program.

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