National Geo has renewed Explorer, Life Below Zero, Drugs, Inc., Wicked Tuna, Live Free or Die, Brain Games –– and (as previously reported) StarTalk for the 2015-16 season.
Official press release:
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC CHANNEL UNVEILS 2015-2016 UPFRONT SLATE AS IT CELEBRATES MOST-WATCHED MARCH EVER AND SURPASSES 90 MILLION HOMES
HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDE NEW SERIES BREAKTHROUGH, AN UNPRECENDENTED PARTNERSHIP WITH GE, RON HOWARD AND BRIAN GRAZER;
SCRIPTED MINISERIES SAINTS & STRANGERS;
AND RETURN OF THE LONGEST-RUNNING DOCUMENTARY SERIES ON CABLE TELEVISION, EXPLORER
Slate Includes Seven Returning Series, Five New Series and Three Events/Specials
(NEW YORK – APRIL 15, 2015) On the heels of National Geographic Channel (NGC) achieving its most-watched March in network history, propelled by the premiere of Killing Jesus — the channel’s most-watched show ever — and surpassing 90 million homes with its distribution, NGC Chief Executive Officer Courteney Monroe and President, Original Programming & Production Tim Pastore announced today an adventurous and diverse 2015-2016 Upfront slate with unprecedented partnerships, a bolder and broader mix of new programming and returning franchise series.
The announcement was made at NGC’s Upfront press presentation at Má Pêche in New York City. In unique fashion, the network made use of the venue’s floor-to-ceiling canvas walls to produce a visually stunning presentation. Talent who sat among the media during the luncheon included actor/director Paul Giamatti (Breakthrough, a unique partnership between GE and NGC), writer/executive producer Eric Overmyer (Saints & Strangers), Jason Silva (Brain Games), Sue Aikens (Life Below Zero), Justin Hall (Explorer), Bill Schindler (Great Human Race) and Cat Bigney (Great Human Race).
“National Geographic Channel is the only network on television with a 127-year legacy. For us, the power of this brand comes from the innovators and explorers before us who dared to redefine possibility and heroically forged against convention,” said Monroe. “As evident in the diverse and ambitious programming that we continue to develop and produce, we’re taking our viewers on adventures, bringing them to places no one else can deliver and giving them the inspiration and curiosity to dive into the unknown.”
“From the reboot of Explorer to the greenlight of our next scripted project Saints & Strangers and the unprecedented partnership with GE on Breakthrough, this year’s Upfront slate is a testament to our programming commitment to rise above the clutter, to keep true to our core and to deliver on the authenticity that our viewers crave and rely on,” said Pastore. “We’re making programming decisions that will continue to stretch that yellow border, finding innovative ways to entertain our viewers, ultimately inspiring them and generating curiosity, creativity and awe.”
“This year more than ever before, National Geographic Channel is delivering authentic, branded entertainment in big ways,” added Toby Byrne, president, advertising sales, for Fox Networks Group. “This programming slate offers our clients an array of unique promotional opportunities, and we look forward to working on customized plans to best take advantage of this brand.”
In addition to its 2015-2016 Upfront Slate, the network also unveiled the premiere dates for its two major summer events: American Genius and The 2000s.
Premiering June 1, 2015, at 9 p.m. ET/PT, the eight-part event miniseries American Genius chronicles the competitions in innovation that pit history’s brightest minds against each other in the race to lay claim to the future. The docudrama from Stephen David Entertainment, the producers of the multiple-award-winning miniseries “The Men Who Built America,” features the brilliant and irrepressible inventors that have made the United States the greatest hotbed of business in the world over the past 225 years. Bold reenactments are woven together with expert interviews — many with modern-day visionaries in their own right — to shed new perspective on the backstories of innovations that have shaped our world. Expert interviewees include Steve Wozniak, will.i.am, Bill Nye, Biz Stone, Mitt Romney, Craig Venter, Steve Wynn, Jack Welch and Michio Kaku.
The 2000s: A New Reality, a two-night miniseries event premiering July 12-13 at 9 p.m. ET/PT follows the same wildly successful formula that made hits of its predecessors The ’80s: The Decade That Made Us and The ’90s: The Last Great Decade? by revisiting the key events of the decade through first-person interviews with the unexpected game changers, news makers, world leaders and entertainers who left their marks on history. These original interviews — with Rudy Giuliani, General David Petraeus, Nancy Pelosi, Richard Hatch, Penn Jillette and Howard Dean, just to name a few — combined with Unforgettable footage and a familiar soundtrack will bring the decade to life again, putting a new lens on familiar, and altering what you think you know.
The 2015-2016 Upfront Slate Includes:
(Please note: All are working titles and subject to change.)
BREAKTHROUGH: A unique partnership between GE and National Geographic Channel (Imagine Entertainment and Asylum Entertainment, Global)
Executive produced by Ron Howard, Brian Grazer, Steve Michaels, Jonathan Koch and Mark Dowley, Breakthrough is an anthology of leading scientists and how their cutting-edge innovations and advancements will change our lives in the immediate future and beyond. The series intends to bring to life the stories, people and technology behind these breakthroughs, and show how they are changing our world. Each hourlong episode will be directed by a Hollywood visionary, with Angela Bassett, Peter Berg, Paul Giamatti, Akiva Goldsman, Ron Howard and Brett Ratner as the first six directors. The first episodes will explore remarkable breakthroughs in brain science, longevity, water, energy, pandemics and cyborg technology. Presented by National Geographic and GE — brands long dedicated to innovation, science and exploration — the series unites our commitment to inspire and showcase the most curious minds the world over.
50 STATES OF SURVIVAL (National Geographic Studios, Global)
Is it better to have dozens of tools or just one you can use dozens of ways? A survival savant, an alternative engineer and a gadget guru show us how to make a lot out of a little as they compete against each other in location-based challenges across the U.S. Each task showcases self-reliance and modern ingenuity at their best. Don’t be surprised if you learn a thing or two from this fun-loving trio!
PRIMAL SURVIVAL (Icon Films, Global)
Hazen Audel is completing a series of solo survival missions in some of the world’s most remote places by using only the tribal training passed down to him through the elders he meets along the way. Harnessing the skills these tribal ancestors perfected, Hazen shows what it really means to fight for your life in the most extreme conditions.
NGC UPFRONT SLATE
THE GREAT HUMAN RACE (National Geographic Studios, Global)
Follow two adventurers, Bill Schindler and Cat Bigney, for 35,000 miles — from the cradle of civilization to the New World — as they complete challenges. While retracing the migratory route of our ancestors, our competitors must overcome some of the same oppressive deserts, frozen tundra and intimidating jungles. Along the way, they face the same challenges early humans did: building weapons out of stone, starting fires, hunting for food, communicating with local tribes and more. It’s a journey of a lifetime — of all of our lifetimes.
THE YARD (Original Productions, Global)
The engineers, mechanics and carpenters at some of our country’s largest shipbuilding operations rush to complete repairs and hustle to get as many boats in the water as possible by deadline. From struggling to fill an order of 40 ferry boats to dealing with the unique challenges of a remote Alaskan location, we show what it takes to get seaworthy ships deconstructed, reconstructed and ready for launch.
LIFE BELOW ZERO (Adjacent Productions, US Only)
It takes a certain kind of person to live miles north of the Arctic Circle, where frostbite feeds on hesitation and nature’s feral creatures won’t hesitate to feed on you. Follow the jaw-dropping lives of Sue Aikens and these brave Alaskans who prove that you need thick skin to walk on thin ice.
DRUGS, INC. (Wall to Wall Media Ltd., Global)
The multibillion-dollar drug industry is a global phenomenon. Whether it’s legal or lawless, the drug business will always evolve. Get ready for another highly addictive season, where farmers parade their stashes, smugglers reveal their secrets, addicts expose their souls and the law remains in hot pursuit.
WICKED TUNA (Pilgrim Studios, Global)
Brutal conditions, hot tempers and rough waters can only mean our fearless captains are back to rock the boat for a fifth season. Get hooked watching these smart, tough and fearless warriors navigate the deep blue water of Gloucester in hopes of catching their high-priced bluefin bounty.
LIVE FREE OR DIE (National Geographic Studios, Global)
Live Free or Die explores one of America’s most remote subcultures, following six people who have left the modern world behind to live in backwoods and swamps. They hunt their own food, build their own shelters and survive only on what they can produce with their own two hands and sharp intuition.
BRAIN GAMES (National Geographic Studios, Global)
The Emmy-nominated series is back with all-new episodes — and returns to its roots as an hourlong program. Using a series of experiments, illusions and demonstrations, host Jason Silva and guest experts unlock the science behind the mysteries of why we say, see, eat, feel and act as we do. Hailed by critics as “tremendous fun” that “makes science entertaining,” Brain Games turns your mind’s eye inward for a fascinating journey into the 3 ½ pounds of tissue that makes you, well, you.
STARTALK (Curved Light Productions and National Geographic Studios, Global)
Even before the show premieres next week, Nat Geo has announced that Neil deGrasse Tyson will be back this fall to host 10 more episodes, bringing together celebrities, scientists and comedians to explore a variety of cosmic topics and colliding pop culture with science in a way that late-night television has never seen before. Weekly topics range from popular science fiction, space travel, extraterrestrial life and the Big Bang to the future of Earth and the environment.
EXPLORER (National Geographic Studios, Global)
The longest-running documentary series in cable television, honored with nearly 60 Emmys, returns this year with 12 new episodes investigating stories of science, nature and culture. In this new iteration, fans gain deeper access and insight to the most provocative topics covered in National Geographic Magazine, including the evolution of the eye, the ongoing conflict inside the Congo’s Virunga National Park and a new look at Mary the mother of Jesus — all opening a window on hidden parts of the world.
SAINTS & STRANGERS (Sony Pictures Television with Little Engine Productions, US Only)
Saints & Strangers is a story that goes beyond the familiar historical version of the founding of America, revealing the trials and tribulations of the first American settlers: 101 men, women and children who sailed on a chartered a ship called the Mayflower for a place no one had ever seen. Half of these “pilgrims” were religious separatists who had abandoned their prior lives for religious freedom and an opportunity to create a new social order built on their values. The other half, “adventurers,” were mostly single males seeking financial opportunity and a rapid acquisition of wealth in a new land, or trying to escape their old identities or criminal pasts. And intertwined with their complex inner struggles is the relationship with the Native Americans, and the conflicting allegiances among these groups, culminating in trials of assimilation, faith and compromise that to this day define our country.
AMERICA’S NATIONAL PARKS (Studio Hamburg Doclights/ NDR Naturfilm, Global)
In a spectacular yearlong event, National Geographic Channel and Nat Geo WILD, in partnership with the National Parks System, celebrate the 100th birthday of America’s best idea. This premium blue-chip event premieres two new hours of the most breathtaking landscapes in the world per quarter. It features stories of our nation’s most beloved animal characters along with some new faces you may have never seen. From sea to shining sea, this is where you will experience North America’s natural wonders and iconic wildlife as never before.
HISTORY OF THE WORLD … FOR NOW (Altschuler & Krinsky Works and National Geographic Studios, Global)
From the writers of HBO’s “Silicon Valley,” History of the World … For Now takes viewers on an irreverent romp through time, from the Big Bang to The Notorious B.I.G. Animation, stop-motion, original sketches and audaciously hilarious storytelling from the best comedians in Hollywood turn dull history on its head in this four-hour gut-busting event.