About Starbright Media Corporation
Dr. George A. Colburn
Starbright Media Corporation (SMC) was founded in 1980 by George A. Colburn, a historian with a professional background in journalism and distance education. SMC specializes in documentary television productions while its non-profit associate company, Contemporary Learning Systems, Inc., develops and produces develops media-based educational programs. The companies are based in Petoskey, Michigan.
Colburn holds a doctorate in history from Michigan State University where he has served as a visiting professor in the History Department and in the Department of American Thought and Language. He has also been an adjunct professor of journalism at Illinois State University and the University of California, San Diego and an adjunct professor of history at Gettysburg College where he taught courses on film and history.
Colburn's best known national television credit is as SMC’s writer and producer of a major documentary series on Dwight D. Eisenhower’s military and political careers, 1941 - 1961. Entitled "The Eisenhower Legacy," the four-part series is hosted by Gen. Colin L. Powell (U.S. Army, Ret.) and aired on The Disney Channel and, later, on The History Channel. It also was the basis of a 20-part educational series funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts entitled "The Eisenhower Era." The series is now available from Ambrose Digital 2.0 for streaming into the classroom (ambrosedigital.com).
Approximately 150 witnesses to Ike’s public service were interviewed by Colburn for the ongoing Eisenhower Legacy project, including Presidents Nixon, Bush, Reagan and Ford, who all knew Ike. Also interviewed were General John S. D. Eisenhower, his son; Gen. Andrew Goodpaster, his national security aide; Gen. Bernard Schreiver, who managed the ICBM program in the USAF. Other close observers of the major events of the era interviewed for the series include former CIA Agent (later Director) William Colby, Ike’s Attorney General, Herbert Brownell, and numerous British, French, German and officials of the USSR, including the son and son-in-law of Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev. See complete list.
The most recent SMC production for the Legacy project is a two-hour documentary for public television about President Eisenhower's quest for peace in the early nuclear age. Entitled "Eisenhower's Secret War: Covertly Waging Peace, 1950 - 1960", the Special premiered in May 2013. During its five-year run , the documentary appeared on stations natiolwide that reach 92 percent of TV viewers in the U.S., according to American Public Television (APT), the Boston-based program distributor. A revised version of "Secret War" was released on the 70th anniversary of D-Day in 2014.
In final post-production currently at SMC is a 75-minute feature documentary on Ike's key role in the battle on Europe's Western Front against Nazi Germany. Entitled "IKE: The Making of an American Hero, 1941 - 1945," the documentary had a virtual premiere presentation on Sept. 16, 2020, the evening prior to the dedication of the Eisenhower Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. (IkeWW2.com)
SMC's other major production currently is "Young Hemingway: The Patht to Paris", a two-hour special about Northern Michigan's influence on the author's life and literature (YoungHemingway.com). Based on the recently published letters of the young Hemingway, the Special features interviews with the editors of the letters at "Windemere,” Hemingway family's cottage on Walloon Lake and at locations throughout the region where Hemingway spent his summers for the first 20 years of his life, 1899 – 1919. The 90-minute film will have its virtual premiere on December 31.
Colburn has also recently completed production of "Exploring Immigration and the American Dream,” an educational series of seven programs that will be included in an electronic package of educational materials (exploringimmigration.org). The series examines immigration policies since the end of World War II that have transformed the nation and features the commentaries of major national figures in the immigration reform debate and the people of Holland, Michigan, that has seen its small city and European culture transformed in recent years.
Released on Veterans Day, 2017, was Navajo Code Talkers: A Journey of Remembrance, a documentary that follows the return of six Navajo Marines and younger family members to five Pacific Island battlefields of World War II. In the early war years, young Navajo recruits created a code within their unwritten language that remained unbroken throughout the war, helping to turn the tide of battle frequently in the bloody conflicts against the entrenched Japanese military. The program will have its Navajo Nation premiere on August 14, 2018, in Window Rock, AZ, the capital of the nation on a day celebrated by the tribe as "Navajo Code Talker Day." A Navajo language version of the documentary will be released by the end of the year and an educational series will follow in 2019.
In addition to his work as a production-writer-director, Colburn is also recognized nationally as a leading producer of distance education programming linked to major television series. His credits between 1974 and 1997 at the University of California and as an independent producer/project manager include more than two dozen national, media-based educational programs, include CONNECTIONS (James Burke), COSMOS (Carl Sagan), and THE HEART OF THE DRAGON (International Emmy winner) and THE EISENHOWER ERA (Gen. Colin Powell).
Colburn began his work in the communications field as a journalist for the Grand Rapids Press and the Detroit Times while he was a college student. After completing his studies, he worked as managing editor of an award-winning San Francisco suburban newspaper group for several years before entering graduate school at Michigan State University in 1963.
During his graduate studies, he worked part-time for the local weekly newspaper group covering government and politics. In this capacity, he earned a Pulitzer Prize nomination in the Community Journalism category in 1970 for his stories on the nomination and selection of a new President at MSU after long-time President John Hannah joined the Nixon administration. The lengthy process deeply divided the campus faculty during a time of unprecedented student turbulence. After a drawn-out and contentious battle because a politically divided Board of Trustees, a bare majority of trustees selected Dr. Clifton Wharton to lead the university. Dr. Wharton thus became the first African-American President of a major American university.
After earning his Ph.D. in history in 1970, Colburn became head of the communications and research staff for the Speaker of the House in the Michigan legislature. A year later he was elected to the East Lansing City Council and led a successful fight against construction of a freeway through the center of campus. In late 1973, he returned to journalism as the founding Editor for a subsidiary publication of the Chicago Tribune that served the north suburban areas of Cook County. In 1975, he was chosen to lead the national "Courses by Newspaper" project based at the University of California's San Diego campus and, later, to direct the development there of a National Media Programs division working on educational projects for newspapers, radio and television. Under his direction the newspaper project, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, ultimately included almost 500 publications across the country, and more than 300 affiliated colleges and universities.
In 1981, Colburn left the university to establish his own company in New York City. There, he worked with producers, public television stations, foundations and corporations on developing and distributing educational programs linked to outstanding documentary series appearing on public television. He began his work in television production in 1983 as executive producer of "The Communications Revolution," a three-part series featuring the renowned writer Arthur C. Clarke on the island nation of Sri Lanka where Mr. Clarke lived. Since then he had produced and written more than 40 broadcast and non-broadcast documentaries.
Dr. George Colburn
P.0. Box 309, Walloon Lake, MI 49796
231/535-2440 or 202/258-4887
© 2013 Starbright Media Corp.