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In A Different Key

An Interview with The Producers

One night only ... In A Different Key premieres nationwide ! Dec 13 at 9pm est on PBS

IN A DIFFERENT KEY, a true story of love, difference and the fight to belong, premieres on PBS stations nationwide beginning on December 13 at 9pm EST (check local listings), presented by Boston public media producer GBH. Based on the Pulitzer Prize-nominated book of the same name by journalists Caren Zucker and John Donvan – the film’s Executive Producers – the film follows the mother of an autistic son as she finds and then befriends the first child ever diagnosed with autism – Donald Triplett, who still lives in the small Mississippi town where he was born nearly 90 years ago.

Today, the rate of diagnosed Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has reached the level of 1 in 44 children. In a question relevant to many, co-director Caren Zucker seeks answers to the unknowable: will the non-autistic majority embrace and protect her child when she is no longer here. “Really, it’s an untold story of an unrecognized civil rights movement,” says Zucker, “but it’s also a love story, where the arc of justice is really bending in the right direction – just not fast enough for mothers like me.”

Zucker’s and Donvan’s film is a fascinating and illuminating journey into the lives of individuals past and present, who have experienced the best and the worst of society’s response to people seen as “different.” IN A DIFFERENT KEY starts with the story of Donald, who was identified as “Case 1” among the earliest published descriptions of autism. There is the heartwarming discovery that Donald’s small-town community has accepted him all his life. In the words of one member of the community, “He’s our guy.”

Says co-director John Donvan, “We hope the film touches audiences that don’t necessarily have that direct connection to autism. Every community can be part of the solution for supporting people on the spectrum, including where they work, live, go to school and beyond.”

However, the filmmakers also document abuse and rejection, exacerbated by misunderstanding, fear, bullying and racism. Standing up to these forces, pushing back against them, has been a decades-long mission for a legion of people – people on the spectrum, their families and their allies.

“The film reveals the complexity and breadth of the autism spectrum,” says John Bredar, VP of GBH National Programming. “And it does this in such a personal way that folks who are not in the autism community will really get it.”

With original music by Wynton Marsalis, IN A DIFFERENT KEY is poised to open eyes, minds and hearts across the country, while educating about the incredible highs and lows of neurodiversity and the importance of supportive communities.


IN A DIFFERENT KEY is produced by Caren Zucker and John Donvan, and presented by GBH Boston. Co-Directors Caren Zucker and John Donvan; Composer: Wynton Marsalis; Editor, Co-Producer: Ray Conley; Director of Photography: Terry Stewart. Funding for IN A DIFFERENT KEY is provided by Liberty Mutual.

Caren Zucker

Co-Director, Co-Producer

Caren Zucker is a director, producer and journalist who has told stories for more than 25 years across a broad range of subjects both domestically and internationally. As a producer for ABC’s World News and Nightline, working alongside Peter Jennings, Charlie Gibson and Diane Sawyer, she covered civil rights, presidential campaigns, economic issues and social trends. She was honored for her role in ABC’s coverage of 9/11 with two of television’s most prestigious prizes, the Peabody and the Alfred L. DuPont awards. Zucker was the producer and co-writer of PBS NewsHour series Autism Now. Her oldest son Mickey’s autism diagnosis inspired a new direction in her reporting: to bring a better understanding of autism’s realities

John Donvan Co-Director, Co-Producer John Donvan is a veteran network correspondent and producer for ABC, CNN and PBS, and host and moderator of the Intelligence Squared U.S. Debates, which are heard on public radio and by podcast. He has also been a contributing editor to The Atlantic. During his journalism career, in addition to anchoring various ABC broadcasts, John served as chief White House correspondent, and held multiyear postings in London, Moscow, Jerusalem and Amman, Jordan. He wrote and reported for the documentary program Turning Point. The winner of four Emmys and the Overseas Press Club Award, he became interested in autism’s impact on families upon meeting his wife, physician and medical school professor Ranit Mishori, who grew up in Israel with a brother profoundly affected by autism, He has two children and lives in Washington, DC

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