National Geographic and Nat Geo WILD’s TCA presentation included news that Running Wild with Bear Grylls has found a new home with Nat Geo.
Grylls and National Geographic already have a relationship, as he serves as host and narrator of the network’s upcoming natural-history series Hostile Planet, premiering this April. Now, the network will be the new home of the hit series Running Wild with Bear Grylls, which is currently in production and slated to premiere in December. The show had previously been airing on NBC.
National Geographic and Procter & Gamble revealed Activate, a new multiplatform storytelling partnership and six-part documentary series co-produced by Global Citizen and RadicalMedia. Premiering globally this fall on National Geographic in 172 countries and 43 languages, the Activate series will focus on extreme poverty, inequality and sustainability issues to mobilize global citizens to drive meaningful and lasting change. It will be bolstered by custom content distributed across National Geographic’s social, digital, linear and print channels. The series will feature activists such as Uzo Aduba, Rachel Brosnahan, Hugh Jackman, Gayle King, Usher and Pharrell Williams.
It was also revealed that Suzan-Lori Parks, Pulitzer Prize award-winning playwright of Topdog/Underdog, will be executive producer and showrunner for Genius: Aretha Franklin. This upcoming season will be the first-ever scripted miniseries on the life of the acclaimed Queen of Soul. Fox 21 Television Studios—the studio behind The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story, The Americans, Homeland, The People v. OJ: American Crime Story and the two prior Genius—will return to produce the next installment. Filming will start this summer for an early 2020 premiere on National Geographic Channels in 172 countries and 43 languages. Legendary record producer Clive Davis and Atlantic Records Chairman and CEO Craig Kallman have joined as executive producers. Imagine Entertainment has partnered with Warner Music Group for this third season, which will again be executive produced by, among others, Imagine’s Brian Grazer and Ron Howard.
National Geographic, with Appian Way and Warner Horizon Scripted Television, has greenlit to series The Right Stuff, an adaptation of Tom Wolfe’s best-selling nonfiction account of the early days of the U.S. space program. Production will begin this fall. Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Davisson are executive producers, along with Mark Lafferty (Castle Rock, Halt and Catch Fire), who signs on as showrunner. The first season, which uses the book as its starting point, takes place at the height of the Cold War in 1958, when the Soviets are dominating the space race. Subsequent seasons of The Right Stuff will carry through to the epochal Apollo Space Program, where humankind saw one of its greatest achievements—man setting foot on the moon—and missions beyond.
National Geographic’s slate of natural-history programming has been expanded. Among the additions to the lineup is America, a six-episode series that paints a portrait of contemporary America. Planet of the Whales will be filmed for more than two and a half years, in 24 locations, to reveal the life of five different whale species. The four-episode series is slated for 2021. Photo Ark, a two-hour event special for 2020, features National Geographic Photographer Joel Sartore. His commitment to save everything he can through photography is what has powered his successful Photo Ark campaign, a 25-year documentary project to save species and habitat. Slated for this summer, Yellowstone Live will be a four-night live event that will showcase even more of the wildlife and vistas the greater Yellowstone ecosystem has to offer. The live broadcast that garnered 13 million viewers in its debut last summer will head back to the nation’s most cherished national park this June.
Nat Geo WILD is bringing back the clip series Howie Mandel’s Animals Doing Things is returning for a second season this summer. Mandel has once again teamed up with Doing Things Media’s Instagram account @AnimalsDoingThings. The new season premieres this June.