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Nat Geo Slates Brain Games Reboot, Adventure Competition Series


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Highlights from National Geographic’s newly unveiled 2019-2020 slate include the return of the popular series Brain Games featuring a Hollywood twist, as well as the new competition Race to the Center of the Earth from the producers of The Amazing Race.

This fall, a reimagined Brain Games will be shot in front of a live studio audience, this time challenging some of the world’s biggest celebrities to realize their special brain power through interactive games, illusions and social experiments. The in-studio audience and the viewers at home can play along, comparing their mental abilities against those of the A-listers. The eight-part series debuts in December. The first five celebrity participants confirmed are Kristin Bell (The Good Place), Dax Shepherd (Bless This Mess), Drew Brees (QB for the New Orleans Saints), Rebel Wilson (The Hustle) and Anthony Anderson (black-ish).

Coming in summer 2020, the eight-part Race to the Center of the Earth is a global competition that pits four teams against one another in a nonstop sprint across the globe for a $1 million prize.

The six-part Lost Cities features host and National Geographic Explorer Albert Lin on a high-tech adventure that will revolutionize archaeology across the globe. It is slated for October 2019.

Trafficked, set for April 2020, explores the complex and often dangerous inner workings of the global underworld: smuggling networks, and black and informal markets. Peabody and duPont Award-winning journalist Mariana van Zeller leads the show.

National Geographic expands its partnership with Gordon Ramsay by greenlighting additional episodes of Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted ahead of this summer’s season one premiere.

National Geographic is the new home of the hit series Running Wild with Bear Grylls, which is currently in production and slated to premiere this fall. The first two celebrity competitors confirmed are Brie Larson (Captain Marvel) and Armie Hammer (Call Me By Your Name).

There’s a new installment of the Genius franchise, this one focused on the life of Aretha Franklin.

China’s Hidden Kingdoms, which takes audiences into the secret wilds of China, is set for January 2020.

Following the success of the live events Yellowstone Live and Earth Live, National Geographic is taking viewers live to Alaska, America’s last frontier, in next year’s Alaska Live.

National Geographic will premiere original specials as part of a new prime-time weekly event block, Explorer Sundays. The channel’s fall lineup includes Finding Amelia, looking into the mystery of the disappearance of Amelia Earhart. Also coming to the network, Hell on Earth: Mexico features best-selling author, journalist and filmmaker Sebastian Junger and his producing partner Nick Quested take a look at how narco-traffickers, corrupt politicians and well-positioned business interests have seized power and wealth and left Mexican citizens desperately fighting or fleeing elsewhere for a better life.

“For the past three years, our focus has been on quality and distinctiveness above all else and on building the most creatively ambitious, most entertaining National Geographic television network in history,” said National Geographic Global Television Networks President Courteney Monroe. “This year’s upfront slate continues that ambition with highly entertaining programming from the best creative talent in the business. Big, bold premium programming that lives up to the promise and expectations of the National Geographic brand, including the reboot of our highly rated family-friendly series Brain Games; the next season of our multiple-Emmy-winning anthology series Genius, profiling the life of the ‘Queen of Soul,’ Aretha Franklin; and two inside access series, featuring incredible new talent Mariana van Zeller and Albert Lin.”

Nat Geo WILD, meanwhile, sees the return of the veterinary series The Incredible Dr. Pol, Dr. Oakley: Yukon Vet and Dr. K’s Exotic Animal ER. This marks the fifth year in a row that these three staples of the Nat Geo WILD portfolio have all been renewed.

Joining the network renewals are six new character-led series. Critter Fixers, which premieres this winter, follows two fun-loving longtime friends who own and operate Critter Fixer Veterinary Hospital. Homestead Vets follows a husband and wife veterinary team who work in America’s heartland caring for the animals of Midwestern farmers. Animal SOS looks into the world of wildlife rescuers in India, where dedicated guardians of the animal kingdom keep everything from elephants and tigers to leopards and hyenas safe from animal-human encounters. Lonestar Vet, Prairie Dog Manor and Zoo Tampa round out the new series offering.

Nat Geo WILD also slated new natural-history specials, including Kingdom of the White Wolf, a film that follows National Geographic Explorer and photographer Ronan Donovan as he embeds with a pack of wolves in the Arctic for a rarely seen look at the lives of these gorgeous predators, and Rise of the Black Panther, the coming-of-age story of Saaya the leopard. Additionally, the upcoming special March of the Polar Bear will follow a team of polar bear guides as they prepare for an epic journey, while Wildcats of India follows the titular predators’ lives.

“Nat Geo WILD continues to be the true destination of choice for people who love animals as much as we do, with a new slate that demonstrates our unbridled commitment to providing extraordinary stories that entertain, educate and inspire viewers of all ages,” said Geoff Daniels, executive VP of global unscripted entertainment for National Geographic Global Networks. “This is family viewing at its finest, with a lineup centered on heartwarming, awe-inspiring animal-first storytelling that you just can’t get anywhere else.”








About Kristin Brzoznowski

Kristin Brzoznowski is the executive editor of World Screen. She can be reached at kbrzoznowski@worldscreen.com.

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