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'Baseball' filmmaker Burns backs Pete Rose

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BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) -- Ken Burns makes sweeping documentaries on subjects including baseball. But he was concise in assessing whether Pete Rose should be in the sport's Hall of Fame.

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Rose, who agreed to a lifetime ban from baseball in 1989 that stemmed from gambling, should be honored after he dies, Burns told the Television Critics Association on Wednesday.

"He deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. But he doesn't deserve to know he's in the Hall of Fame," Burns said. "But that's just one person's opinion."

Burns, whose films include "The Civil War" and "The National Parks," appeared at the association's summer meeting to promote PBS' "The Tenth Inning," a follow-up to his 1994 series "Baseball" that also aired on public TV.

The filmmaker said his reluctance to revisit a documentary subject wavered when his beloved Boston Red Sox won the 2004 World Series after a long drought.

But the decision was cemented by the "giant shadow of steroids," as well as issues including the sport's growing ethnic diversity and the effect of big money, he said.

As Burns put it, "2004 made me think about it, steroids made us do it."

"The Tenth Inning" proved to be a challenging narrative to construct because of the drug issue, Burns said.

In examining a glorious season, he said, the film had to recapture the joy but be mindful it was "setting traps" for the subsequent exploration of performance-enhancing drugs and their effect on the sport, players and fans.

The four-hour, two-part "The Tenth Inning" tracks America's national pastime from the early 1990s to the present. It touches on the devastating 1994 strike, the growing importance of Latino and Asian players, baseball's ballooning profits, the exploits of Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds and others, and revelations about drug use.

Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig, managers Felipe Alou and Joe Torre and players Pedro Martinez, Omar Vizquel and Ichiro Suzuki are among those interviewed in the film.

"The Tenth Inning," directed by Burns and Lynn Novick, will air on Sept. 28 and 29 on public TV stations.

A companion book -- an updated, expanded edition of "Baseball" by Ken Burns and Geoffrey C. Ward -- will be published in September, PBS said. The new documentary will be released on DVD and Blu-ray in October.

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Pioneer staff reports
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