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UGA LAW PROFESSOR TO APPEAR ON SHOWTIME'S "INHERIT THE WIND"

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Tuesday, May 25, 1999

WRITER: Kathy R. Pharr, (706) 542-5172, pharr@jd.lawsch.uga.edu

CONTACT: Ed Larson, (706) 542-2660, edlarson@arches.uga.edu

UGA LAW PROFESSOR TO APPEAR ON SHOWTIME'S "INHERIT THE WIND"

ATHENS, Ga. -- Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Ed Larson, the University of Georgia's Richard B. Russell Professor of History and Law, will be featured on the Showtime network Saturday, May 29, following the 8 p.m. EST broadcast of a remake of the classic movie about the Scopes trial, Inherit the Wind. Larson will provide historical commentary on the case in the 24-minute trailer which follows the production. (Showtime is broadcast in the Athens area by InterMedia on Channel 64.)

"Inherit the Wind deviates sharply from the actual historical episode, but remains a significant cultural event in that it helped create images that ever after shaped how America understood the Scopes trial and fundamentalism," said Larson. "The play, written in 1955, was more of a reaction to the wave of McCarthyism than it was to the Scopes trial of the 1920s."

Larson won the 1998 Pulitzer Prize in history for his book, Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America's Continuing Debate Over Science and Religion, becoming UGA's first sitting faculty member to win the award. Ostensibly, the Scopes trial dealt with the clash between creationism and evolution, with a rural Tennessee teacher accused of violating state law by teaching evolution in a public school classroom. Larson's book focused on the deeper constitutional issues debated by famed defense attorney Clarence Darrow and his courtroom adversary, fundamentalist orator William Jennings Bryan.

"[The Scopes trial] crystallized the issue of individual liberty - free speech and academic freedom in a democratic society - and the tensions about tyranny of the majority v. individual rights," said Larson. "It became the episode in our American history that best captures that issue, and the issue resonates just as much today as it did 75 years ago."

Larson has served as a commentator on the Scopes trial for many national and international broadcasts, and recently delivered the acclaimed Elson Lecture at the Atlanta History Center. He served as historical consultant for the trailer which follows Saturday night's Showtime production. Both the trailer and remake, starring George C. Scott as Bryan and Jack Lemmon as Darrow, were produced by MGM for later home video release.

Larson, who specializes in science history and the relationship between law and science, joined the University of Georgia faculty in 1987.

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