NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC ANNOUNCES THREE NEW SCRIPTED DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS:
THE BIRTH OF THE PILL
From Producer/Director R.J. Cutler (“The September Issue,” “If I Stay”), Denise DiNovi (“Crazy, Stupid, Love”), Alison Greenspan (“Unforgettable,” “If I Stay”) And Sonar Entertainment (“The Son,” “Mr. Mercedes”)
THE HOT ZONE
From Lynda Obst Productions (“Interstellar,” “Good Girls Revolt”),
Fox 21 Television Studios (Genius, “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story”), Scott Free Productions (“The Man in the High Castle,” “The Good Fight”), Writers Kelly Souders and Brian Peterson (Genius, “Under the Dome”)
And Jeff Vintar (“I, Robot”)
UNTITLED NAT GEO PROJECT
From Marti Noxon (“Sharp Objects,” “UnReal”), Skydance Productions (“Grace And Frankie,” “Star Trek Beyond”) and Writer Erik Jendresen
(“Band of Brothers,” Killing Lincoln)
And MARS Returns for Sophomore Season with Veteran Showrunner
Dee Johnson (“Nashville,” “ER”)
(WASHINGTON, DC – April 19, 2017) – This past year, National Geographic, renowned for its original nonfiction storytelling, exemplified its rebranded “Further” tagline with the genre-busting part-scripted/part-documentary series MARS and the network’s forthcoming first-ever fully scripted series GENIUS. Now, the network reveals three new scripted development projects from some of the world’s most renowned storytellers and announces new showrunner Dee Johnson to oversee the second season of MARS.
“This scripted development slate further solidifies our commitment to developing diverse projects with themes and issues that resonate and are relevant to our audience. It proves that entertaining and smart are not mutually exclusive,” said Courteney Monroe, CEO, National Geographic Global Networks. “We are working with the best storytellers in the world to tell these very human stories that we hope will create global conversation and change the way viewers look at the world around them.”
“The cornerstone of our scripted programming strategy is to work with the best creative minds in the industry to deliver the authenticity that is inherent to the National Geographic brand,” said Carolyn Bernstein, executive vice president and head of global scripted development and Production, National Geographic. “Whether we’re telling the dramatic history of the creation of the birth control pill, the terrifying true story of the discovery of the Ebola virus a stone’s throw from the White House or mining the complicated personal and professional life of a world-renowned genius, we want our fact-based scripted storytelling to reflect the complexity, unpredictability and entertainment value inherent in the best scripted drama.”
In the year ahead, the network’s slate of scripted development includes the following three titles, which chronicle true stories that have made headlines and redefined human experience and culture in the past century.
New Scripted Development Slate:
*All working titles
THE BIRTH OF THE PILL: HOW FOUR CRUSADERS REINVENTED SEX AND LAUNCHED A REVOLUTION (From Sonar Entertainment, Producer/Director R.J. Cutler and Executive Producers Denise DiNovi and Alison Greenspan)
It has been called the only product in American history so powerful that it needed no name. Today we know it simply as “the pill,” but it was made possible only through the efforts of four larger-than-life figures. Adapted from Jonathan Eig’s 2014 book, “The Birth of the Pill: How Four Crusaders Reinvented Sex and Launched a Revolution,” the series follows feminist icon Margaret Sanger and philanthropist Katherine McCormick, who campaigned for women’s rights and championed birth control, enlisting the help of visionary scientist Gregory Pincus and Catholic OB/GYN John Rock. Together, the four took on the scientific establishment, the church and cultural norms in their fight to make safe and effective contraception available to millions of women. The Birth of the Pill is a thrilling recounting of the development of a drug that forever changed medical and social history.
THE HOT ZONE (Lynda Obst Productions, Fox 21 Television Studios, Kelly Souders, Brian Peterson, Jeff Vintar and Scott Free Productions)
Based on the eponymous international bestseller by Richard Preston, The Hot Zone recounts the terrifying 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. In 1989, when this killer suddenly appears in chimpanzees in a scientific lab in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. — a stone’s throw away from the White House — there is no known cure. A heroic U.S. Army veterinarian, working with a secret military SWAT team, puts herself in mortal peril when she tries to head off the outbreak before it spreads to the human population. The Hot Zone is a dramatic, hair-raising account of a rare and lethal virus and its impact on the human race.
UNTITLED NAT GEO PROJECT (Skydance Productions, Erik Jendresen, Tiny Pyro Productions)
How did National Geographic become a network? This scripted series, from Marti Noxon’s Tiny Pyro Productions (“Sharp Objects,” “UnReal”) and writer Erik Jendresen (“Band of Brothers,” Killing Lincoln), 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. Both teams must brave espionage, scandal and hostile environments in an attempt to bring Nat Geo’s arresting global storytelling to the new media age.
MARS Season 2 (Showrunner Dee Johnson, Imagine Entertainment and Radical Media)
Of all the planets in our solar system, none has captured our collective imagination like Mars. Last season, viewers followed the first human mission to Mars, set in 2033, as the crew struggled to safely land on and create an initial settlement. In season two, we return to Mars years after the astronauts have established a full-fledged colony. But by this point, the International Mars Science Foundation— a multigovernment-sponsored space agency — cannot continue to solely finance the Mars expedition, so the doors of opportunity have swung wide open to the private sector. Tensions rise among original mission-driven scientists and miners sent by a for-profit corporation. Throughout six intriguing episodes, MARS examines the impact that humans have on the Red Planet — and the impact it has on us. Tracing the thrilling quest to make Mars home, National Geographic blends cinema-quality scripted drama set in the future with documentary sequences that feature current space-technology pioneers.
Since Carolyn Bernstein, executive vice president and head of global scripted production and development, joined the network 18 months ago, National Geographic has slowly been building its scripted development slate. Early this year, the network announced two projects now in progress with Scott Rudin, including a television adaptation of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Annie Proulx’s Barkskins, a multigenerational dramatic tale about European settlers finding prosperity in the New World through the slow and steady destruction of North America’s forests and native populations. In addition, with Rudin also serving as executive producer, National Geographic added another adaptation to the development roster: How to Survive a Plague, based on the book of the same name, depicts the humanity at the center of the struggle to conquer AIDS, turning it from a fatal disease into a manageable one.
Additionally, this year National Geographic will premiere The State from BAFTA- and Golden Globe award-winning writer/director Peter Kosminsky and The Long Road Home from Mike Medavoy, Mikko Alanne, Jason Clark, Benjamin Anderson and Edward McGurn. Premiering this summer, The State, a compelling fictional story based on extensive research and firsthand accounts, will follow the experiences of four British men and women who leave their lives behind to join ISIS in Raqqah, Syria. This fall, The Long Road Home, based on The New York Times bestselling book from Martha Raddatz, will relive a heroic fight for survival during the Iraq War, when the 1st Cavalry Division from Fort Hood was ferociously ambushed on April 4, 2004, in Sadr City, Baghdad — a day that came to be known in military annals as “Black Sunday.” The ensemble cast includes Michael Kelly, Jason Ritter, Kate Bosworth, Sarah Wayne Callies, Noel Fisher and Jeremy Sisto.
And premiering Tuesday, April 25, at 9/8c, National Geographic’s new 10-part global event series GENIUS — the network’s first scripted series — reveals how Albert became Einstein, exploring his extraordinary professional achievements along with his volatile, passionate and complex personal relationships. From Fox 21 Television Studios, Imagine Television and OddLot Entertainment, the series is based on Walter Isaacson’s book “Einstein: His Life and Universe” and is executive produced by Brian Grazer, Ron Howard and Gigi Pritzker, with Howard making his scripted television directorial debut with the first episode. The all-star cast includes Geoffrey Rush as the celebrated titular scientist, Johnny Flynn as Albert in the years before he rose to international acclaim and Emily Watson as his second wife — and first cousin — Elsa Einstein.