New Program On Francis Scott Key To Air Next Month On MPT

It will showcase his life after he wrote the ‘Star Spangled Banner.’

Ownings Mills, Md (KM) Most Americans are familiar with the story of Francis Scott Key who was inspired to write the “Star Spangled Banner” after witnessing the bombardment of Fort McHenry in Baltimore in 1814. But there’s so much more to his life, according Phillip Marshall, the producer, director, writer and editor of a TV program depicting Key’s life after he wrote the poem that later became the country’s National Anthem.

Marshall says he held a screening of the program “FS Key and the Song That Built America” in 2014, when he spoke with representatives from the Delaplaine family about funding a TV show on the part of Key’s life after he wrote the “Star Spangled Banner.” “We got to talking and they said ‘we’d love to do it, but funding being what it is.’ And they said ‘can you do it over time, over a couple of years.’ And I said, ‘yeah, it might be able to work.’ Essentially, I had three years to do this and the money came slowly, and i continued to raise additional funds  as well,” he said.

The Delaplaine Foundation is the major funder of this program, Marshall says.

The program, according to Marshall, has strong ties to Maryland and is heavily focused on Frederick. Key was born in 1779 in an area which was part of Frederick County at that time, but is now in Carroll County. Marshall says Key spent most of his time in the early 19th Century in Washington DC. He died in 1843.

He says this program about Key provides a look into the antebellum society, and the attitudes and behaviors of Americans at that time toward slavery, and how that led to the Civil War.

Marshall says he does this by conducting “interviews” with the people who knew Key at that time, including Andrew Jackson and Roger Brooke Taney.. “So essentially, I speak to ghosts I speak to real people who have known about Key and we did it using their own words and experts who have known about these individuals,” he says. In addition, Marshall says he also speaks to historians who are familiar with that period in American history.

Among the actors portraying the people who knew key are Boyd Gaines, a four-time Tony Award winner and an actor on “One Day at a Time”, who plays the part of Roger Brooke Taney; Gary Sandy, who was on “WKRP In Cincinnati and “The Insider,” who plays the part of Andrew Jackson; John Astin, of “The Addams Family” and the Johns Hopkins University Theater Department, who portrays Edgar Allen Poe; and Karen Lynn Gorney, who stared in “Saturday Night Fever” and “All My Children” who plays the part of Anna Thornton.

Marshall says several scenes were filmed in Frederick, including a political picnic for Taney in the early 19th century in front of city hall which was then the county courthouse. “It was the first time that Francis Scott Key spoke publicly about writing the Anthem. It was sort of a picnic for Taney who was forced out of the Jackson Administration by some political shenanigans. And they had this big party for him in Frederick,” he says.

He says one of the biggest challenges he faced in producing this program is making the “interviews” with the people who knew Key to be believable to viewers because, as he said, he was interviewing people who had been dead for a long time. “They’re  speaking a dialog as if they’re actually conversing with me, and I’m actually in it interviewing them,” he said. “We create it to look as if they were being projected from the past using special visual affects.”

The program will premiere the week of Sunday, September 10th. Marshall says on Monday, September 11th, MPT will rebroadcast the program “F.S Key and the Song that Built America” at 10:00 PM. The new program, “FS Key After the Song” will be broadcast on Tuesday, September 12th, Wednesday, September 13th and Thursday, September 14th, at 10:00 PM all three nights.


By Kevin McManus