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DVD cover for the documentary "George P. Mitchell: A Difference Maker," set to air at 1 p.m. Sunday, August 3, on Houston Public Media Channel 8 / KUHT TV 8. (Credit: Studio W Inc.)

COLLEGE STATION --

A new documentary celebrating the life of visionary Texas businessman and global energy pioneer George P. Mitchell, a 1940 distinguished petroleum engineering graduate of Texas A&M University and all-time most generous donor in Texas A&M history, is set to make its public television debut next month, roughly a week after the one-year anniversary of his death.

George P. Mitchell: A Difference Maker will air at 1 p.m. Sunday, August 3, on Houston Public Media Channel 8 / KUHT TV 8. The broadcast of the 30-minute biography -- written and produced by Rick Christie, president of Studio W Inc. in Houston -- is sponsored by Texas A&M, EnerVest Ltd. and Joe B. Foster '56, former founder and chief executive officer of Newfield Exploration Co.

Mitchell's is a true rags-to-riches success story: a billionaire entrepreneur who overcame poverty to graduate first in his class at Texas A&M, serve his country during World War II as an officer in the Army Corps of Engineers, build a Fortune 500 oil and gas company, create a master-planned new town in The Woodlands, and transform both his hometown of Galveston and his alma mater's physics and astronomy program with his philanthropic efforts. Somewhere in the overall plot development, he also near-singlehandedly ushered in a worldwide energy revolution.

"George Mitchell, by almost anyone's account, is an important man," said Christie, a six-time Emmy Award winner. "His name is well known in many circles, for many reasons. His is a story that deserves to be shared and shared broadly."

As an added bonus, Christie's version of the story about the man known as the father of fracking and honored in 2013 as both a History-Making Texan and Houstonian of the Century is one told primarily in Mitchell's own words, as preserved in more than 100 video interviews recently unearthed by Christie, who worked for Mitchell during the time that most of them were filmed.

Christie brings a unique viewpoint to an already compelling story of a self-made man. He describes the documentary as a labor of love -- a creative melding of Mitchell's narratives with select segments featuring state and national VIPs, experts and opinion leaders, including Daniel Yergin, noted energy economist and Pulitzer Prize-winning author.

"George Mitchell, more than anyone else, is responsible for the most important energy innovation of the 21st century," Yergin asserts in one notable clip. "It's because of George that we can talk seriously about 'energy independence.'"

Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp, Texas A&M Dean of Science H. Joseph Newton and Texas A&M Professor of Physics and Astronomy Peter M. McIntyre are among those paying tribute to Mitchell in the documentary, along with Foster, Texas Governor Rick Perry and former Mitchell Energy & Development Corp. geologist Dan Steward. Mitchell's granddaughter Katherine Lorenz, president of the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation, and Linda Bomke, who retired in December as vice president after serving 42 years at Mitchell Energy & Development Corp and the Mitchell Family Corporation, also appear in the production.

In 2013 Forbes magazine estimated Mitchell's net worth as $2 billion, placing him among the 500 richest people in the world. At the time of his death on July 26, 2013, Mitchell had pledged the majority of that wealth toward philanthropic initiatives, including more than $95 million in donations to Texas A&M, from his namesake George P. and Cynthia Woods Mitchell Institute for Fundamental Physics and Astronomy to the 135 acres for Texas A&M University at Galveston's main campus. In addition, he committed $33.25 million to the Giant Magellan Telescope, including a lead gift of $1.25 million in 2004 that established Texas A&M as a founding partner in the next-generation, ground-based wonder. Likewise, his Mitchell Foundation continues to champion a grant program that supports a variety of scientific and sustainability issues, including environmental protection, social equity and economic vibrancy.

"History will remember George Mitchell for his technological achievement in oil and gas extraction that put the United States and much of the world on a direct path to energy independence," Christie said. "However, students of history will revere George and his resilient spirit, dogged perseverance and uncanny ability to connect dots so often invisible to others in an effort to anticipate where the world would, could or should be, whether present or future. That's a powerful takeaway for us all."

To learn more about Mitchell and his visionary life, visit http://www.science.tamu.edu/articles/1084 or http://cgmf.org/p/founders.html.

Watch a trailer for the documentary on YouTube:



-aTm-

Contact: Shana K. Hutchins, (979) 862-1237 or shutchins@science.tamu.edu or Carrie Woliver, (713) 961-2797 or carwol@aol.com

Hutchins Shana

  • George P. Mitchell '40

    (Credit: Mitchell family.)

  • In 2010, Texas A&M University Press published the book, George Mitchell and the Idea of Sustainability, written by his close friend and colleague Jurgen Schmandt. The quasi-biographical work looks at Mitchell's life and career primarily through the lens of his engagement with the idea of sustainability.

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