T E S L A Master of Lightning


Stacy Keach is the voice of Nikola Tesla

PBS documentary airs Tuesdsay, December 12, 2000

Washington, D.C.- Nikola Tesla was one of the greatest inventors of the 20th century, with over 700 worldwide patents to his name. He was a visionary genius whose radical ideas created the technology that connects the world with power and information. One of history's most controversial and misunderstood people, his incredible story is finally being brought to the screen.

Nikola Tesla (1856-1943), a Serbian immigrant to America, has become a cult hero. He is known and respected in scientific and engineering circles, but he also appeals to a youthful and general audience with no formal background in science. In addition to his work, his life is filled with intense personal drama, triumph and tragedy.

Tesla's most famous invention is his system of AC power generation and transmission that is used universally today. He also invented the Tesla coil to create high-frequency electricity. This led to the creation of neon and fluorescent lighting, radio transmission, remote control, and hundreds of other devices that are now an essential part of our everyday lives. The documentary finally sets the record straight on Tesla's inventions and accomplishments. Edison and Marconi are frequently credited for the invention of AC power transmission and radio, respectively. The program demonstrates that this is not the case.

TESLA, Master of Lightning, is a multi-media project that tells the comprehensive story of the life and work of Nikola Tesla for the very fist time. The program combines dramatizations with rare footage and photographs to weave a story filled with science, drama, and mystery. Included are many new and unknown details of Tesla's life, including the influence he had on the Strategic Defense Initiative missile defense program. A great deal of the story is told in Tesla's own words, drawn from his autobiographical and scientific writings, and performed by Stacy Keach.

Mr. Keach has long had a personal interest in Tesla's work. Says Keach, "Without Nikola Tesla, the world, as we know it today, would not exist.
Unlike Thomas Edison, who invented Direct Current (DC), Tesla was the man
responsible for giving us Alternating Current (AC), which gives us electric
power over long distances. Radio, television, and the world of wireless electronic transmission, are all direct results of Tesla's vision. Yes, he was also an eccentric, a
germophobic, and something of a megalomaniac---human qualities which make a profile of his life all the more fascinating..Öfor many years I entertained the notion of trying to mount a one-man show about his life. I am truly honored and thrilled to be a part of this exciting documentary. "

Eight years in the making, the project includes the PBS documentary special; the companion book written by Margaret Cheney and Robert Uth, published by Barnes & Noble; and an extensive educational website at www.pbs.org. The documentary and the book contain an extremely rare collection of photographs documenting Tesla's life and inventions. These photos are like lost pages of electrical history and an important resource for scholars. The website will contain other rare Tesla information, including correspondence, scientific papers and articles.

Today there is considerable and growing interest in Tesla, but most of the available information has been highly speculative, not based on the historical documentary evidence. Dr. David Goodstein, professor of physics at the California Institute of Technology, calls the program "gripping, informative and technically accurate".

This is not a dry story about circuits and capacitors. Tesla's life is an inspiring example of the power of one man to battle against the odds and change the world with his revolutionary ideas. TESLA, Master of Lightning will give long overdue recognition to a great and misunderstood man of science.

TESLA, Master of Lightning, premieres nationally on PBS on Tuesday, December 12, 2000, at 10:00 pm (check local listings). It is a production of New Voyage Communications, Washington, D.C. Producer/Director : Robert Uth. Written by: Robert Uth and Phylis Geller. Executive Producer : Phylis Geller. Senior Science Adviser: Leland I. Anderson. Funding is provided by PBS.


Nikola Tesla was one of the greatest electrical inventors who ever lived. His technological achievements transformed America from a nation of isolated communities to a country connected by power grids where information was available upon demand. In the 20th century, it was Tesla's technology that united the United States and eventually the world.

Tesla's life was like a movie. It is the story of a brilliant and charismatic immigrant who rose to the height of celebrity with his amazing talent, and then was tragically undone by his own visionary ideas. The cast of characters includes: Thomas Edison, J. Pierpont Morgan, Guglielmo Marconi, George Westinghouse, Mark Twain and many more.

A Serb by origin, his early discovery of the alternating current motor led him to America to seek a venue for his invention. Here he developed the polyphase AC system of power transmission, which drives every home and industry in the country. He invented the Tesla coil to create high-frequency electricity, and with it neon and florescent lighting, radio transmission, remote control, and hundreds of other devices that are indispensable to our daily lives.

Tesla was also a visionary thinker, and in his papers and interviews he anticipated the development of radio and television broadcasting, robotics, computers, faxes, and even the Strategic Defense Initiative. He believed that anything we imagine can be accomplished.

The inventorís great dream was to find the means to broadcast electrical power without wires in between. But like many geniuses, he was not a practical man. He gave his life to achieve his dream, while others made millions with his inventions. In the end, he wound up penniless and forgotten .

In his later years, Tesla was regarded as an eccentric scientist. Ridiculed by his contemporaries, his ideas frequently appeared in works of science fiction. He was the inspiration for the mad scientist in Max Fleischerís Superman cartoons.

At the height of World War Two, Tesla claimed he had invented a powerful "death beam" that could destroy attacking aircraft. He proposed a system of beam weapons to protect the borders of the United States and other European nations. When he died, most of Teslaís technical papers mysteriously disappeared, and some have never been found.

Tesla was so far ahead of his time that many of his advanced ideas are only appearing today. His legacy can been seen in everything from microwave ovens, to MX missiles, to electrical modification of the ionosphere.

Tesla was one of the rare human beings who could see at a glance the far-reaching effects electricity would and could have on our lives. His spirit and vision are captured in Tesla, Master of Lightning. "See the excitement coming!"


Robert Uth

Robert Uth is a partner in New Voyage Communications.. For the past twenty years he has been the Executive Director of National Productions, a full service television production and communications company in Washington, D.C. He has produced hundreds of programs for corporate and non-profit organizations worldwide. For National Productions, he wrote and directed other documentaries for PBS, including Living Double Lives, a look at the nuclear age, and The Spirit of Cooperation, about the cooperative movement in America. Uth has received the "Chris Award" for outstanding educational program and won first prize in the Casa de las Ciencas International Competition for Scientific Diffusion Videos.

Phylis Geller

Executive Producer, Co-Writer
Phylis Geller is a partner in New Voyage Communications. She was previously Head of Special Projects for Mandalay Media Arts, a high-definition television production company in Los Angeles. Prior to joining MMA , Geller was Senior Vice President of Cultural Programming and New Media at WETA, the PBS producing station in Washington, D.C. She supervised WETAís cultural programs for PBS, including Ken Burnsí Thomas Jefferson , Lewis & Clark, and Frank Lloyd Wright, as well as the performance series The Kennedy Center Presents and In Performance at the White House. Documentary series included The Face of Russia, a coproduction with the Library of Congress. Geller also pioneered WETAís HDTV productions, including the Emmy-award winning Impressionists on the Seine and Van Gogh's Van Goghs, based on the landmark exhibit at the National Gallery of Art.

Geller was formerly Senior Vice President of National Productions at KCET/Hollywood, where her projects included American Playhouse, The Astronomers, Secret Intelligence, Millennium and Trying Times, as well as numerous specials for Great Performances and NOVA. She has also served as Senior Vice President for National and International production at Maryland Public Television. Earlier in her career, she was a producer at WNET/New York, on the drama series Theater in America.

Leland I. Anderson

Senior Science Adviser
Leland I. Anderson is an electrical engineer, author and renowned authority on Nikola Tesla. He has published numerous books and articles on the subject and has been a persistent researcher of Tesla and his technology since the 1950ís. Andersonís books include Nikola Tesla on His Work with Alternating Currents and Nikola Tesla: Guided Weapons and Computer Technology.

New Voyage Communications, Inc.

New Voyage Communications, Inc., is a multi-media company based in Washington, D.C. NVC was formed to create and distribute products for broadcast television, the internet, and the non-theatrical video market. Currently in production are the public television documentary Korea: The Forgotten War, and a program on the life of cabaret singer Mabel Mercer. NVC also publishes and distributes books under its subsidiary, New Voyage Publishing. Current offers are Midnight at Mabelís: The Mabel Mercer Story, and an upcoming companion book to Korea: The Forgotten War.

Website: www.newvoyage.tv



Leland I. Anderson

Author, Electrical Engineer

Joseph Butler

National Air Intelligence Center

U.S. Air Force

Margaret Cheney

Tesla Biographer

Bernard Finn

Curator, Division of Electricity and Modern Physics

National Museum of American History

Smithsonian Institution

Elmer Gertz

Attorney and author

David L. Goodstein,

Vice Provost, Professor of Physics and Applied Physics

Frank J. Gilloon

Distinguished Teaching and Service Professor

California Institute of Technology

Host of PBS science series, "Mechanical Universe"

Jim Hardesty

Physics historian

Classic scientific instrument maker

Charlotte Muzar

Assistant to Sava Kosanovich

Dennis Papadopoulos

Professor of Physics

University of Maryland

Senior Science Advisor, H.A.A.R.P Project

Charles E. Ruch

Westinghouse Historian

William Terbo

Executive Secretary, Tesla Memorial Society

Grand-nephew of Nikola Tesla

A Production of New Voyage Communications

The program is narrated by: Stacy Keach

Directed by: Robert Uth

Executive producers: Robert Uth and Phylis Geller

Producers: Simonida Perica Uth and Zoran Amar

Written by: Robert Uth and Phylis Geller

Original score by: Charlie Barnett.

Art Directions: Simonida Perica Uth