enCounter: north

 

Following his exploration of Northern Greenland in 1986 Dr. S. Allen Counter, a Harvard Professor, noted neurophysiologist and explorer, wrote the book North Pole Legacy that chronicles the parallel stories of Admiral Robert Peary and his black assistant, Matthew Henson, who together struck the North Pole on April 6, 1909 after 23-years and seven expeditions. The book also tells the moving story of how Dr. Counter discovered both Peary and Henson had fathered sons with Inuit women during their Arctic exploration.  It further presents Dr. Counter's experience meeting these 80-year-old descendants of Peary and Henson in 1986, hearing the oral history as passed down from these two men's mothers, family and tribe. The book presents the arduous task Dr. Counter faced in order to attain government authority to have the men and their families travel to and enter the United States to meet their relatives and thus fulfill their lifetime dream of knowing their respective families. Ultimately, Dr. Counter would correct a huge wrong that had occurred following the North Pole discovery when Matthew Henson, solely because he was a black man, was totally ignored nor given any recognition for the extraordinary accomplishment of reaching the North Pole with Peary.  Dr. Counter's relentless pursuit of the government and military authorities led to his petition to then President Ronald Reagan to have Matthew Henson's remains properly reinterred at Arlington National Cemetery alongside Admiral Peary.  The president granted this in 1987 and members of Matthew Henson's family were present to honor his memory.


              Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith with Dr. Allen Counter              Dr. Allen Counter with Admiral Melvin Williams, USN, Explorers Club Lowell Thomas Award

With newly elected President Barack Obama at the Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony


 

   


enCounter: north, written by John Kuri in a development partnership with KSW Entertainment LLC, a company owned by Kuri, Daniel Summa, and Warren Weideman, is inspired by North Pole Legacy.  Kuri, Summa and Weideman are producing. Debbie Allen, a Tony Award and Emmy nominee and Golden Globe recipient, producer, director, actress and choreographer, is Dr. Counter's Creative Director and is an Executive Producer on this project.


enCounter: north: 

A 10-part limited series that is an immersive, visually compelling tale of the quest for the seemingly impossible – yet achieved through unrelenting determination and curiosity, layered with humanity while brimming with adventure, romance, betrayal, jeopardy, seduction, compassion and finally redemption. This is all told through the eyes of Harvard University’s Dr. Allen Counter, a real life black Indiana Jones, neuroscientist who grew up in the 1950's Jim Crow South dreaming of becoming his childhood hero, black explorer Matthew Henson  the man who with Cmd. Robert Peary conquered the North Pole in 1909. 

Ultimately in 1986 while doing high level medical research in Stockholm, and while in a deep romance with the Swedish magazine cover girl who would become the mother of his children, Counter learns of a child of Henson left in northern Greenland with the Inuit mother 80-years earlier.  Counter sets out to find the man, this through tracing and reliving the Henson/Peary Arctic exploration.  

We experience an interlocking story – multiple dimensions of Counter, Henson, and Peary’s lives and those of their wives: Josephine, Regina, Ann-Charlotte, and nurse/nanny Laura - the first black woman in history to live above the 80th parallel north, and Ahlikasingwah and Akatingwah - the Inuit mothers of the Henson and Peary children of the north. In all, this limited series reveals the gripping parallel experiences a century apart, yet interlinked for eternity. All the while Counter blazes his own path through a life rich with achievement yet conflicted by personal flaws threatening to destroy his marriage and challenging his bond with his daughters, much as with explorer Robert Peary life.

Henson/ Peary route to the North Pole: Heavy black line center. (450 miles on frozen sea.)                   Glacier adrift off Greenland in the Nares Strait.


A Centennial Celebration of the 1909 North Pole Conquest was arranged by Dr. Counter with cooperation from the United States Navy. The nuclear submarine USS Annapolis carried the time capsule - commerative box prepared by Dr. Counter, to the North Pole, punched up through several feet of frozen Arctic Sea to allow the celebration to take place as it had 100-years earlier when the means of transportation was by dog sledge traversing constant hazards of 450-miles of moving ice.


Gallery of images from the Peary / Henson expeditions