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Season 1999 1999

  • 1999-01-13T02:00:00+00:00 on PBS
  • 60 mins
  • 18 hours, 0 mins (18 episodes)
  • United States
  • English
  • Documentary, News

Since it began in 1983, Frontline has been airing public-affairs documentaries that explore a wide scope of the complex human experience. Frontline's goal is to extend the impact of the documentary beyond its initial broadcast by serving as a catalyst for change.

18 episodes

1999x01 Snitch

  • Season Premiere

    1999-01-13T02:00:00+00:00 — 60 mins

In the last five years, nearly a third of defendants in federal drug trafficking cases have had their sentences reduced because they informed on other people they snitched. With the prospect of mandatory life sentences facing many charged with drug crimes, the only option to escape their fate is to inform on someone else, resulting in unsettling cases in which minor offenders are serving harsh prison sentences. FRONTLINE takes a critical look at the federal governments disturbing use of informants in drug prosecutions and the effect it has had on individuals rights and the U.S. judicial system. The web site for "Snitch" delves deeper into the story offering: a report on a recent federal court ruling challenging government leniency deals; an interview with producer Ofra Bikel; experts' views on the pros and cons of using informers; a closer look at cases profiled in the program; more of the interviews with judges and prosecutors; and, a smart quiz on drug laws and prosecutions.

1999x02 The Triumph of Evil

  • 1999-01-27T02:00:00+00:00 — 60 mins

It is one of the most shameful stories of the post-Cold War world. One million Tutsis were slaughtered by the Hutu majority in Rwanda while the West turned a blind eye. As the U.N.s Genocide Convention created to make sure genocide would never happen again marks its fiftieth anniversary, FRONTLINE examines the role of the U.S. and the U.N. as they ignored the warnings and evidence of impending massacre in Rwanda.

1999x03 The Execution

  • 1999-02-10T02:00:00+00:00 — 60 mins

FRONTLINE looks into the mind and soul of a death row killer and the effect of his execution on all who had a stake in it. Clifford Boggess was a pianist and artist. He was also a cold-blooded murderer. Boggess spent almost ten years on Texas' death row praying and awaiting the execution chamber. And while he prayed, the tormented families of his two victims brutally slain in convenience store robberies impatiently awaited the lethal injection that took his life in June 1998. FRONTLINE's web site offers a collection of material explaining Boggess--Who was he? Should he have been executed? The site presents video of Boggess describing in brutal detail the two murders; an expert's analysis of whether Boggess fit the profile of a psychopath; the letters Boggess wrote to his victims 'families; his artwork. The site also includes articles on: why Texas is the number one execution state; a history of capital punishment; a report on the speed up in habeas corpus appeals; and the best pro and con death penalty arguments by Supreme Court Justices, Pope John Paul II, legal scholars, the American Bar Association and U.S. Catholic Bishops.

1999x04 Russian Roulette

  • 1999-02-24T02:00:00+00:00 — 60 mins

The Cold War is ended, but the threat of a nuclear nightmare is far from over. In 1995 Russian President Yeltsin came within two minutes of launching a nuclear attack because of faulty signals from Russia's crumbling early warning system. FRONTLINE's investigation into the safety and security of the Russian nuclear arsenal presents interviews with U.S. and Russian military commanders about the menacing potential for catastrophe. It also includes top Russian military discussing missing Russian nuclear suitcase bombs and U.S Customs agents describing the first credible case of a scenario to smuggle tactical nuclear weapons in the U.S. The web site will offer more details on nuclear suitcase bombs and the tactical nuclear weapons smuggling case in Miami. Plus, extended interviews with nuclear policy experts and Russian nuclear commanders and maps of Russian nuclear facilities.

1999x05 Hunting Bin Laden

  • 1999-04-14T02:00:00+01:00 — 60 mins

FRONTLINE's "Hunting Bin Laden," produced in collaboration with The New York Times, investigates Osama bin Laden, who is charged with masterminding the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in East Africa which killed 224 and injured over 5,000. A wealthy Saudi Arabian exile who is now believed to be hiding in the mountains of Afghanistan with a $5 million bounty on his head--this report explores who bin Laden is, offering intriguing background and insight into his life and motives: from his formative experience in the Afghan jihad, or holy war, against the Soviets, to his scathing attacks on the Saudi royal family and his campaign to drive American "infidel" troops out of Saudi Arabia, to his statements and fatwahs calling for the murder of innocent Americans. But is the U.S. fixation on bin Laden correct? While U.S. investigators have targeted him as the leader and financier of a complex terrorism network with active cells all over the world, some informed observers believe the U.S. has exaggerated his role and, in doing so, turned Osama bin Laden into a folk hero for the Muslim world. Interviewing a range of Muslim leaders and activists, "Hunting Bin Laden" also examines whether the bombings and bin Laden's vendettas reflect a widespread anger against the United States throughout the Islamic world. One example of this is the reaction of an American Muslim community to the presence of American forces in Saudi Arabia, the land of Islam's holy mosques. Almost universally they feel it is a profound religious insult. "The Africa embassy bombings is not the problem," says one of them, "Africa is the expression of the problem." This FRONTLINE/New York Times report also raises tough questions about the evidence used to justify Washington's retaliatory missile strikes in Sudan against bin Laden. Drawing on interviews and official documents, the report shows how U.S. officials have backed away from their original statements that the targeted Sudanese factory was linked to chemical weapons production. And, in Washington and Khartoum, the program evaluates the threat posed by what the U.S. calls the "terrorist nation" of Sudan and how America's retaliatory strikes in Sudan and at bin Laden's training camps in Afghanistan may have propelled Osama bin Laden into instant martyrdom and worldwide fame.

1999x06 Spying on Saddam

  • 1999-04-28T02:00:00+01:00 — 60 mins

In the wake of Desert Fox, the U.S. assault on Iraq last December,UNSCOM--the special UN commission created to find and destroy Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction--has disintegrated amid charges it was really a spy agency. Scott Ritter, former U.S. Marine and UNSCOM inspector, claims U.S. Intelligence destroyed UNSCOM's credibility when American spies penetrated and compromised the UN arms inspection teams. FRONTLINE investigates Ritter's charges and asks, who really killed UNSCOM?

1999x07 Give War A Chance

  • 1999-05-12T02:00:00+01:00 — 60 mins

FRONTLINE explores the bitter divide between military and civilian attitudes about where, when, and why America employs military force. In examining the gulf between what American diplomats want and what the military is prepared to deliver, correspondent Peter J. Boyer follows the inevitable collision from Vietnam to the Balkans between diplomat Richard Holbrooke and Admiral Leighton Smith. Their careers, and ultimate clash, represent the most vivid example of this critical foreign policy dilemma Special reports on FRONTLINE's web site include one examining the evolution of the doctrine on the use of military force and, a chronology of significant U.S. military interventions over the past 30 years. Also published on the site is an analysis of the new kind of diplomacy--'nation-building' backed by military might. Several top experts debate the pros and cons. The site also offers brief biographies of Holbrooke and Smith, parallel chronologies of their lives and careers, and, a selection of key readings on the issues examined in the FRONTLINE broadcast.

1999x08 The Long Walk of Nelson Mandela

  • 1999-05-26T02:00:00+01:00 — 60 mins

FRONTLINE profiles the most widely known and revered political leader in the world--Nelson Mandela. Credited with the reversal of apartheid in a South Africa controlled by two generations of stern Afrikaner leaders who enforced the ideology of racial separation, Mandela stands as an all-embracing giant who brought about his nations extraordinary peaceful transformation to democracy. In the most in-depth film biography of Mandela ever undertaken, the broadcast tells the story of his life through interviews with intimates--from his most trusted associates to his jailers on Robben Island, the prison where he was held for twenty-seven years. The two-hour film offers an insider's account of his extraordinary will to lead and of the great risk and personal sacrifice he endured to achieve democracy and equality for the people of his nation.

1999x09 Making Babies

  • 1999-06-02T02:00:00+01:00 — 60 mins

FRONTLINE examines the revolution in reproduction and the entrepreneurial atmosphere that imbues the practice of infertility medicine today. On the cusp of a new millennium, we can now visit the Internet and shop for sperm and egg donors. Before long, cloning could do away with the need for sperm altogether. The film looks at how these new technologies hold great promise, but usher in pressing questions regarding the very meaning of family. The web site will offer readings and interviews with major thinkers on the moral, philosophical and societal issues surrounding the extraordinary advances in reproductive medicine; present explanations/diagrams of some of the newest medical breakthroughs; and offer a selection of the most noteworthy readings and resources on infertility.

1999x10 Pop

  • 1999-06-23T02:00:00+01:00 — 60 mins

In his first film, acclaimed photographer Joel Meyerowitz creates a poignant and indelible portrait of his father, an unpredictable, courageous, and remarkably funny man who somehow manages to make Alzheimer's disease look like another of his many adventures. As the curtain of this disease falls over Hy Meyerowitz, Joel and his son take him on a two-week car trip from Florida back to the New York neighborhood where he raised his family. Relaxed and free enough to say anything that comes to mind, Hy imparts his wisdom to all he meets along the way? Wisdom gained from a long life observing human foibles. In the week of Father's Day, the film is a moving tribute to a father from his son and reminds us that the present moment is one of life's real treasures. The web site will include a short piece on Hy Meyerowitz's life and career; links on Alzheimer's disease; and excerpts from radio interviews with Joel Meyerowitz about making the film with his son and father.

1999x11 The Crash

  • 1999-06-30T02:00:00+01:00 — 60 mins

FRONTLINE explores the global crisis that began as a real estate bust in Thailand and roared through the worlds economy from Bangkok to Jakarta to Moscow to Wall Street. On August 31, 1998, the Dow Jones industrial average plunged 512 points, wiping out stock market gains for the entire year. In the United States, small investors watched more than half a trillion dollars of their savings disappear. Fear spread that the global economy was falling apart. The program gathers some of the worlds leading financial analysts to unravel the reasons for the crash of 1998 and to predict whether and when it will happen again. The web site will take a closer look at how the 1998 world financial crisis played out in one country; examine the most significant ideas under discussion for reforming the global economic system; and, will present more of the in-depth interviews with the experts as well as a special readings and links section.

1999x12 John Paul II: The Millennial Pope

  • 1999-09-29T02:00:00+01:00 — 60 mins

FRONTLINE presents a comprehensive biography on the world leader who has emerged as a man at war with the twentieth century itself. In the two decades John Paul II has commanded the world stage, re-invigorating the Catholic Church in much of the world, he has defined himself by his opposition to many of the dominant secular ideologies and passions of our time: communism, feminism, capitalism and consumerism. The program draws on hundreds of interviews--from intimates of the Pope, to those whose lives have intersected with his. Their stories are evocative of major themes in the Pope's life: the shaping influence of his youth in Poland, his remarkable relationship with Jews, his part in the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, his battle with liberation theology, his repudiation of the ordination of women, and his relentless exhortation to faith. The film is a journey through the 20th century to the sources of Pope John Paul II's character and beliefs, and a journey into the passionate reaction to him. It's a journey that says as much about us as it does about him.

1999x13 Secrets of the SAT

  • 1999-10-06T02:00:00+01:00 — 60 mins

How fair are standardized tests? What do they measure? And what's their impact on racial diversity on America's college campuses? FRONTLINE examines the debate over fairness in college admissions, looking at the national obsession with test scores, the multimillion dollar test prep industry, and the legal challenges to race-sensitive admissions policies. A diverse set of students are followed through the stressful college admissions cycle as they dream of attending some of the country's most prestigious universities.

1999x14 Mafia Power Play

  • 1999-10-13T02:00:00+01:00 — 60 mins

FRONTLINE investigates how the tentacles of Russian organized crime have penetrated the National Hockey League. The report exposes how major Russian crime figures are extorting Russian-born players and using their hockey connections to establish a beachhead in the U.S. and Canada. Over the course of a ten-month investigation, FRONTLINE conducted dozens of interviews with sources in the Russian underworld, professional hockey representatives and law enforcement agencies in Russia, the U.S., and Canada. FRONTLINE's web site deepens this report with excerpts from congressional hearings and law enforcement reports, plus the extended interviews and profiles of central figures.

1999x15 The Lost Children of Rockdale County

  • 1999-10-20T02:00:00+01:00 — 60 mins

Conyers, Georgia is a prosperous bedroom community just outside Atlanta. FRONTLINE examines the link between an outbreak of syphilis among a group of its teenagers and the well-off community in which they live. The film reveals a parent's worst nightmare--children as young as fourteen naming scores of sexual partners; others telling of binge drinking, drugs and sex parties. In a series of intertwining profiles, FRONTLINE uncovers the roots of the Conyers syphilis epidemic and reveals the turbulent psychology of America's suburban teenagers.

1999x16 Apocalypse! (1)

  • 1999-11-23T02:00:00+00:00 — 60 mins

From Waco and Littleton to Y2K and global warming, as the millennium approaches, we are bombarded by visions of the apocalypse. From the team that created "From Jesus to Christ," this two-hour FRONTLINE special journeys back more than 2500 years to unravel the origins of the Book of Revelation and how its apocalyptic expectations have shaped our history and our world.

1999x17 Apocalypse! (2)

  • 1999-11-23T02:00:00+00:00 — 60 mins

In part II of the Apocalypse!, FRONTLINE traces the orgins of the Book of Daniel and how it continues to influence modern apocalyptic thinking. And, they exmamine the anti-Christs of recent history.

1999x18 Justice For Sale

  • 1999-11-24T02:00:00+00:00 — 60 mins

FRONTLINE and Bill Moyers investigate how campaign cash is corrupting America's courts. In the thirty-nine states where judges are elected, special interest money is pouring into judicial politics, threatening to compromise judicial independence. The film focuses on three states--Texas, Louisiana, and Pennsylvania--and documents efforts by special interest groups to influence judges and their decisions.