As it continues to morph into a destination for quality scripted dramatic storytelling, Nat Geo will build on its roster of retiring series with two new scripted and three new non-scripted entries in 2018-19, the channel told advertisers at its “Further Front” in New York City on Wednesday night.
Nat Geo, additionally, announced a third season pick up for Genius, which will focus on famed literary figure Mary Shelley. The upcoming second season, Genius: Picasso, with Antonio Banderas in the role of artist Pablo Picasso, launches with two episodes on Tuesday, April 24.
“The unique partnership with our media assets connected with our non-profit mission in the National Geographic Society inspires people to act and provides the spark for new ideas and innovation,” said Gary Knell, CEO, National Geographic Partners. “The idea that we can combine science and exploration and storytelling to change the world only amplifies our brand. Just over two years ago we embarked on our biggest journey yet, an expanded joint venture with 21st Century Fox, which has allowed us to invest in bigger, bolder, more premium content than ever before.”
“In this time of unprecedented change and competition, there is simply no way to break through with content that is not creatively excellent and worthy of viewers’ time,” said Courteney Monroe, CEO, National Geographic Global Networks. “Our upfront slate is evidence that our transformation is truly taking hold and reaffirms our commitment to amplify important topics that matter, to create dialogue and to use the power of storytelling to change the world.”
“Our strategy is built on quality and distinctiveness,” she added. “And our target is a broader, more upscale audience.”
The series picks up join Nat Geo’s current roster of shows, which include Genius, Mars, Explorer, The Story of God with Morgan Freeman, Cosmos: Possible Worlds, Life Below Zero and Star Talk.
The first scripted series pick up, previously announced, is Valley of the Bloom, a six-part telling of friendships, rivalries, victories and failures of the founders and recognizable brands during the 1990s tech bubble. It stars Bradley Whitford, Steve Zahn and Lamorne Morris. And the second, The Hot Zone, comes from producer Ridley Scott and recounts the true story of the origins of the deadly Ebola virus.
In the scripted development slate at Nat Geo are anthology Hidden Figures, inspired by the Oscar-nominated film; The White House Detail, featuring an insider’s look at the personal and professional lives of the Secret Service agents assigned to protect the president and the first family; and Ten Borders, which centers on five individuals who journey from war torn Syria to the safe refuge of Syria.
Confirmed new series on the non-scripted front (all working titles) are Hostile Planet, a six-part series which focuses on the extraordinary and supernatural accounts of animals that have adapted to cruel evolutionary curveballs; In Their Words, a documentary re-telling of topics including Deepwater Horizon disaster and the 2008 global financial crisis; and Chain of Command: Secret Service, which showcases the famed, and mysterious law enforcement agency.
Nat Geo will also feature a custom content series of specials for its weekly travel-themed programming block. The first, New Orleans: City of Stories, will be produced in partnership with the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation and will commemorate the city’s 300th anniversary. It premieres on Monday, April 23, and will be followed with profiles of Asheville, N. C., and San Diego, Calif.. And planned live events include Brain Games Live, based on the series that explores the human brain; and Yellowstone Live, a four-day event that showcases the best of Yellowstone National Park’s wildlife.
Nat Geo Wild and Nat Geo Mundo
Upcoming at sister channel Nat Geo Wild are new series Prairie Dog Companion, which focuses on the prairie species; Babies Diary, which follows the lives of five animal families; and Savage Kingdom III: After the Fall. The returning shows are Dr. K’s Exotic Animal ER, Snake City, The Incredible Dr. Pol, and Dr. Oakley, Yukon Vet.
In the events department at Nat Geo Wild are new editions of Big Cat Week, Barkfest and Sharkfest. And the specials will include Pupparazzi, The Flood, Zeb Hogan’s Monster Fish: Philippines and Three Lions.
Nat Geo Mundo, which will celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month, has greenlit Bios, an eight-part series that follows the lives and works of a series of Latin American icons. Featured programming during Hispanic Heritage month will include Giant Carnivorous Bats, Wild Mexico and Mysteries of the Underworld: Quintana Roo.
[Images of Yellowstone Live courtesy of Nat Geo]