Nat Geo Renews Genius, Partners with Jay Z & Weinstein Co.


National Geographic unveiled an array of new programming highlights at its “Further Front” presentation, including a documentary series with Shawn “Jay Z” Carter and The Weinstein Company looking at race in America.

Tentatively titled Race, the six-episode series is inspired by and an extension of issues introduced in JAY Z: The War On Drugs Is An Epic Fail. The series will weave together documentary, animation and archival footage to tell an intimate, cinematic and inventive collection of curated tales. Present-day stories will be captured via vérité footage of a diverse mix of people from all walks of life in cities across America. The story will focus on decisive cultural moments that have contributed to mass incarcerations, inequality in education and other social ills. The series will air on National Geographic in 171 countries and 45 languages.

Nat Geo has also greenlit a second season of the scripted anthology series Genius, which tells the untold stories of the world’s most brilliant innovators. Season two will chronicle the life of another renowned mastermind and tell the untold narrative of the person behind the genius. The identity of this luminary will be revealed during the season one finale of Genius on June 20. The first season of Genius—which comes from Imagine Entertainment, Brian Grazer, Ron Howard and Fox 21 Television Studios—focused on Albert Einstein.

Continuing with its moves in the scripted arena, National Geographic has lined up three new series in development (all working titles). The Birth of the Pill is sub-titled How Four Crusaders Reinvented Sex and Launched a Revolution. It comes from Sonar Entertainment, producer/director R.J. Cutler and executive producers Denise DiNovi and Alison Greenspan. The Hot Zone is based on the eponymous international best-seller by Richard Preston. It recounts the true story of the origins of the Ebola virus, a highly infectious, deadly virus from the central African rain forest and its first arrival on U.S. soil. The project is from Lynda Obst Productions, Fox 21 Television Studios, Kelly Souders, Brian Peterson, Jeff Vintar and Scott Free Productions. There’s also an untitled Nat Geo project from Marti Noxon’s Tiny Pyro Productions (Sharp Objects, UnReal) and writer Erik Jendresen (Band of Brothers, Killing Lincoln). The scripted series travels back to the 1960s, when an intrepid field producer is put in charge of two ragtag production teams shooting Nat Geo’s first TV documentaries in Siberia and Australia.

National Geographic also announced the greenlight of a six-part documentary series featuring Katie Couric, produced by Katie Couric Media with National Geographic Studios. Inspired by her own journey of making National Geographic’s documentary Gender Revolution, the new untitled series will follow Couric as she talks with thought leaders who are shaping the most pivotal, contentious and oftentimes confusing topics across the globe today. The series will premiere in 2018 on National Geographic in 171 countries and 45 languages.

Additionally, National Geographic unveiled the new series The Story Of Us with Morgan Freeman, from the creators of the critically acclaimed series The Story Of God with Morgan Freeman. In this expansion of the network’s hit franchise, Freeman will once again take viewers on a global journey to meet with people from all cultures whose lives are shaped in surprising ways by different fundamental forces, this time exploring themes that unite us all. The Story Of Us with Morgan Freeman will premiere in fall 2017 globally.