EXCLUSIVE: National Geographic Channel wants to stay in business with Rob Lowe. After starring as President John F. Kennedy in last year’s Killing Kennedy and narrating The ’80s: The Decade That Made Us last spring, NGC has signed Lowe to narrate the sequel. The ’90s: The Last Great Decade? will premiere over three nights in July on NGC in the U.S., followed globally in 171 countries and on Spanish-language network Nat Geo Mundo “I’m excited to be back working with the team at National Geographic Channel, who continue to show their commitment to creating great, entertaining and thought-provoking television programming,” said Lowe. “No one has really examined the ’90s like this before, and I think viewers will be fascinated by the dramatic changes we’ve seen in even the small amount of time that’s passed since Y2K.”
Howard Owens will step down as President of National Geographic Channels U.S. in June after two and a half years on the job. “Our President and my friend Howard Owens is moving on – flying out the window of National Geographic and into the free world of independent production,” National Geographic Channels U.S. CEO David Lyle said this morning in a memo to staff informing them of the move (Full memo after the jump). Owens joined the channel in late 2011, replacing Steve Schiffman. He launched such series as Wicked Tuna, Brain Games, Ultimate Survival Alaska, Life Below Zero, The Legend Of Mick Dodge and Inside Combat Rescue. He also introduced scripted programming to the channel with the highly rated Killing franchise: Killing Lincoln, Killing Kennedy and the upcoming Killing Jesus, as well as event programming with SEAL Team Six and The ’80s: The Decade That Made Us to NGC. Owens also served as president at Nat Geo WILD, shepherding such series as The Incredible Dr. Pol and Cesar 911. “We have truly benefited from Howard’s zeal for bringing audiences innovative programming that underscores the uniqueness and depth of the National Geographic Channels brand,” said Peter Rice, Chairman and CEO of Fox Networks Group. “From a creative and programming perspective, Howard’s work consistently broke new ground, and National Geographic Channels are uniquely positioned for the future as a result of his efforts.”
Prior to joining National Geographic Channels, Owens was a longtime executive at Reveille. “As I get ready for my next adventure I can’t help but reflect on what has been an incredible experience for me, both personally and professionally,” he said. “National Geographic Channels have some of the brightest minds in the television business, and I’m proud of the work we have accomplished together — specifically in defining the National Geographic Channels as a destination for innovative, original and brand-defining creativity.” Here is Lyle’s memo to staff:
Coming off its most-watched year in network history, the National Geographic Channel today unveiled its 2014-2015 slate of six new and ten returning series along with five events/specials, including the four-hour Killing Jesus mini, at its upfront presentation. The new series include Crowd Control, a hidden camera show featuring innovative and fun experiments that test and curate social behavior; You Can’t Lick Your Elbow, which teaches surprising body hacks like how to hold your breath for four minutes, hosted by NFL Today analyst Tony Gonzalez; Cabin Fever with Nate Heim and his timber-loving team who make childhood dreams come true in the form of rustic hideaways and massive mountaintop mansions; Meat Heads hosted by LA chef Eric Greenspon who travels the U.S. in search of the most mouthwatering, meatiest recipes around; The Primitives, featuring individuals and families who are turning back the clock a few hundred years and living the old-fashioned way; and Remote Survival, a new twist on the survival format that tests the tenacity and techniques of individuals dropped in the middle of nowhere. Returning series include Wicked Tuna, The Legend of Mick Dodge, Ultimate Survival Alaska, Drugs, Inc., Alaska State Troopers, Life Below Zero and Building Wild.
Sibling Nat Geo Wild’s 2014-2015 upfront slate includes new series Pond Stars and Dr. K: Exotic Pet Vet (wt); the return of its No. 1 show, The Incredible Dr. Pol, and newest veterinary face, Dr. Oakley, Yukon Vet; and events Big Cat Week, Sharkfest and Dogs Rule! (wt). Here are descriptions of Nat Geo and Nat Geo Wild’s new series:
Fox and Nat GEO‘s reboot of Carl Sagan’s classic Cosmos series is getting some White House lift-off. President Obama will be introducing the series premiere episode this Sunday, March 9 at 9pm ET/PT. A preview of the series screened at the White House as part of their inaugural White House Film Festival on Friday, February 28. Release is below:
EXCLUSIVE: In show business, many start as agents before segueing to a career in the executive ranks. J.C. Mills is taking the opposite route, joining ICM Partners‘ International Television and Media Department in New York today. He is expected to be focused on non-scripted but also cover other aspects of the international TV marketplace. Mills comes from National Geographic Channel where he spent the past two years as a development executive, shepherding unscripted pilots, specials and series and working with oversees producers on international formats. Before joining Nat Geo in January 2012, Mills was VP Acquisitions & Business Development, North America for Zodiak Rights and prior to that was a sales executive at Shine International in the UK. In the agenting ranks, Mills joins his wife, Ashley Davis Mills, who is a New York-based TV agent at rival CAA. Here’s the official release announcing his hire that ICM Partners just sent out:
EXCLUSIVE: National Geographic Channel is entering the scripted series arena with Act Of Valor, a drama from Relativity and Tandem Communications inspired by Relativity’s successful 2012 Navy SEAL feature. The project, which also marks Relativity’s first scripted series, will begin production in early 2014. Written by Erik Jendresen (Band Of Brothers), Act Of Valor the series focuses on pararescuemen, also known as PJs, who are the unsung heroes tasked with recovery and medical treatment of personnel in humanitarian and combat environments. Relativity CEO Ryan Kavanaugh is expected to address the project in his MIPCOM Media Mastermind Keynote in Cannes on Tuesday. “Relativity’s unique model allows us to successfully transform a film such as Act Of Valor into a highly engaging television series,” he said. “We could not ask for a better home for the series than National Geographic Channel.” This marks the second Relativity movie to spawn a series, following the 2010 documentary Catfish, which led to MTV’s successful reality series of the same name.
Discovery Channel raced this morning to announce it would document the raising of the Costa Concordia, and get it on the air lickety split — this Friday at 10 PM ET. As Discovery put out the word, engineers in Giglio, Italy, on Monday had begun raising the cruise ship that ran aground nearly two years ago during what was supposed to be a weeklong Mediterranean cruise, killing 32 of its 4,229 passengers and crew members. Discovery learned the hard way last year the price of delay when it comes to cruise-ship disaster docus, after getting bloodied in a major battle with National Geographic Channel.
Back in January 2012, just days after the cruise ship ran aground off the Tuscan island, Discovery Channel had announced it would “dissect the anatomy” of the Friday the 13th disaster — with the quiet confidence of a network long used to being the only game in town — and said the docu would air “this spring.” But on the same day an Italian court refused to lift the house arrest order for the ship’s captain, Discovery nemesis National Geographic Channel attacked, announcing it had hired the producers of the quick-turnaround British documentary Terror At Sea: The Sinking Of The Concordia — which had already aired on the UK’s Channel 4 — to rework it for this market, rename it Italian Cruise Ship Disaster: The Untold Stories, and slap it on the air that Sunday, beating Discovery’s Cruise Ship Disaster: Inside The Concordia by a week. “Just announced! National Geographic Channel to air first U.S. documentary detailing the Italian cruise ship disaster moment-by-moment,” NatGeo bragged back then.
National Geographic Channel chose today — which would have been the diamond wedding anniversary of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy and John Fitzgerald Kennedy — to announce the premiere date for its JFK assassination movie. Anyone else creeped out by that? Anyway, Killing Kennedy, based on the book of same name by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard, will premiere on Sunday, November 10. It’s timed to the 50th anniversary of the assassination. Killing Kennedy will be released globally in 171 countries, in 48 languages. NatGeo’s first original feature, Killing Lincoln, premiered in February to a crowd of 3.4 million, which made it the most-watched program in the network’s history. Killing Lincoln also was based on a book of same name also by O’Reilly and Dugard. (Watch an exclusive clip from Killing Kennedy after the jump.)
UPDATED: National Geographic Channel is committed to live extreme-event programming. To that end, Nat Geo announced two such projects this morning on the first day of the TCA Summer TV Press Tour. Bob Ballard, aka “the guy who found the Titanic,” will make a dive into an underwater volcano off the coast of Granada. The volcano is so treacherous — a “ticking time bomb,” NatGeo calls it — that no ships are allowed within 10 miles of it, said National Geographic Channels CEO David Lyle. The live dive, Volcano Dive: Live will be telecast Sunday, November 17 and will cap Nat Geo’s celebration of the National Geographic Society’s 125th anniversary.
Additionally, rock climber Alex Honnold will climb one of the world’s highest skyscrapers, without a safety line, this fall, the network also announced. The news comes on the heels of Discovery’s recent special in which Nick Wallenda crossed the Little Colorado River Gorge. NatGeo will cover Honnold — a rock star in rock climbing circles — live on his ascent of some, as yet unknown, really tall building. That announcement:
EXCLUSIVE: National Geographic Channel has greenlit a docu-drama series American Genius from the producers of The Men Who Built America and Sons of Liberty. This time, Stephen David Entertainment will spotlight Benjamin Franklin and Alexander Graham Bell, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg, among others. “In an era where America is …
National Geographic Channel has upped Heather Moran to exec VP programming and strategy for Nat Geo Channel U.S. At the same time, Brad Dancer has been upped to SVP program planning and research for the networks. In her new gig, Moran will oversee the network’s programming, strategy, and content, as well as development and production. (Moran had been SVP of global programming and strategic development, responsible for developing programming and sked strategies for NGC, National Geographic Channels International, and Nat Geo Wild.)
Dancer — one of NGC’s first 10 employees at its May 2000 launch — will now oversee distribution of NGC and Wild content across linear and non-linear platforms; he’ll also oversee day-to-day scheduling and long-term schedule planning at both networks, and will continue to manage all consumer research. (Before the promotion, as SVP of audience and business development, Dancer headed up all areas of research in support of the network’s program development and strategy, scheduling, ad sales, consumer and promotion. He was also the guy who oversaw all “non-linear” revenue sources for the channel: games, apps, music, merchandising, digital distribution, etc. Here’s the announcement:
National Geographic announced this morning it will telecast The Secret Life Of Predators on both National Geographic Channel and Nat Geo Wild on Friday, September 20 and Friday, September 27. The programming will air as part of its Night of Exploration programming block, with naturalist Boone Smith hosting. Nat Geo’s announcement:
(WASHINGTON, D.C. – July 1, 2013) — National Geographic Channel (NGC) CEO David Lyle today announced the channel’s next sweeping natural history event: The Secret Life of Predators. From the networks that brought viewers Untamed Americas and Great Migrations, this four-part blue-chip event from National Geographic Television will be simulcast on both National Geographic Channel and Nat Geo WILD on Friday, September 20 and Friday, September 27 during the “Night of Exploration.” Naturalist and big cat tracker Boone Smith is the host.