On March 15, 21st Century Fox’s National Geographic Channel unveiled its slate of new shows for the 2016-2017 season, with each series delivering on the channel’s commitment to premium content from the world’s best storytellers. The slate includes “Mars,” a six-part event series from Ron Howard and Brian Grazer about the science behind a manned mission to Mars, as well as the climate change documentary series “Years of Living Dangerously” and the unique live documentary event “Earth Live!” The new shows build on the legacy of the National Geographic brand and demonstrate the channel’s unique ability to use storytelling to change the world.
“While many networks are seemingly out in the marketplace trying to find and distinguish their brands, our strength is that we already have one – a global brand with a legacy in science, exploration, and adventure that is synonymous with quality,” said Courteney Monroe, CEO of National Geographic Global Networks.
The upfront presentation featured appearances from several of the channel’s talent and producers, including Academy Award winner Ron Howard, whose six-part event series “Mars” explores the quest to one day colonize Mars. By blending scripted drama with interviews and documentary sequences, the show will detail what the leaders in space exploration are doing today to make traveling to Mars a reality, as well as dramatize the world they are working towards. Filmmaker Everardo Gout (“Days of Grace”) will direct the series, which is set to premiere across 171 countries and 44 languages in November 2016.
“[The challenge is to find] this nexus of science, true-life adventure, and the drama of our human experience in a scripted format, and intercutting that drama with interviews and documentary footage to offer a really powerful experience for audiences that I hope transports them, stimulates the imagination, and fires the belief that space exploration is an important, inevitable aspect of the human experience,” Howard said.
Nat Geo also previewed the second season of the Emmy Award winning documentary series “Years of Living Dangerously,” which will premiere in October. The series features top Hollywood talent highlighting the effects of climate change on human populations around the world, giving first-person accounts from locations where its effects are most prevalent. Correspondents Jack Black, Ty Burrell, James Cameron, Don Cheadle, Thomas Friedman, Joshua Jackson, David Letterman, Aasif Mandvi, Olivia Munn, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ian Somerhalder, and Cecily strong will cover issues such as hurricanes, droughts, and wildfires.
Building on its track record of cutting-edge documentary programming, the channel will also experiment with the documentary form itself with “Earth Live,” a first-of-its-kind live documentary event. Broadcasting live from locations across all seven continents, using state-of-the-art camera technology and controlled by the biggest stars in nature cinematography, in-studio hosts and experts will direct attention to the footage with the most wildlife action, all as it happens live.
“‘Earth Live!’ aims to be the ultimate live broadcast from the natural world,” said Tim Pastore, president, original programming and production, NGC. “No one has ever attempted to do this on such a large scale, and only National Geographic has the ability to do so. We’ve had a storied history of wowing audiences with tremendous visuals for nearly 128 years, and this project takes that wow factor to the next level.”
In addition, the channel previewed other new series emphasizing exploration and conservation, such as an upcoming weekly edition of “Explorer” hosted by Richard Bacon, the fall return of Neil deGrasse Tyson’s “StarTalk,” a six-part series about the scientists who face the planet’s harshest weather conditions at an Antarctic research base called “Deep Freeze,” and “Parched,” Alex Gibney’s documentary about increasing water scarcity both in the U.S. and around the world.
“National Geographic has a storied history of taking audiences to the edge of what’s possible and has brought back the most amazing stories. And now, we’re raising the bar, inspiring a new generation with our view inside the world of today and tomorrow,” Pastore said. “As evident in today’s announcements, we’re keeping our eyes focused on our new north star — premium programming produced by the best talent from around the world, discovering new stories and telling them in brand new and unsuspecting ways.”