Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies

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Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies

Episode One: Magic Bullets

Aired: 2015-03-31 01:00:001:51:51Rating: TV-PG

Follow the centuries-long search for a cure, leading to chemotherapy and a “war on cancer.

Hollywood producer Laura Ziskin (Pretty Woman, Spider-Man) had wanted to produce a documentary about cancer from the time she had been diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004. In 2010, Ziskin contacted Siddhartha Mukherjee, M.D., author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, to obtain the film rights. Simultaneously, Sharon Percy Rockefeller, president and CEO of public TV station WETA in Washington, D.C., read the book during her treatment for cancer. Shortly thereafter, Rockefeller connected with filmmaker Ken Burns, who lost his mother to cancer when he was 11. The two connected with Ziskin, and in early 2011 brought on award winning filmmaker Barak Goodman.

The result of their collaboration, Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies, tells the comprehensive story of cancer, from its first description in an ancient Egyptian scroll to the gleaming laboratories of modern research institutions. The film interweaves a sweeping historical narrative with intimate stories about contemporary patients, and an investigation into the latest scientific breakthroughs that may have brought us, at long last, within sight of lasting cures.