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Content Canada 2019

Nat Geo reveals scripted, factual slate

US cablenet National Geographic Channel has ordered a drama set during the Ebola crisis and unveiled a raft of factual programming, including two shows from the UK’s Plimsoll Productions.

S3 of Genius focuses on Frankenstein author Mary Shelley

The Hot Zone, from US trio Lynda Obst Productions, Fox 21 Television Studios and Scott Free Productions, is based on the eponymous novel by Richard Preston that recounts the true story of the origins of the Ebola virus.

The show, which will be exec produced by Ridley Scott, follows a US Army veterinarian working with a secret military SWAT team as they try to stop the spread of the killer disease.

It is Nat Geo’s latest scripted order, following shows including Genius and Mars, both of which have also been extended.

A third season of Genius, again from Imagine Entertainment and Fox 21 Television Studios, will focus on author and feminist Mary Shelley. The order comes ahead of the second season’s debut on April 24. Mars was extended to a second season in January.

Meanwhile, Plimsoll Productions is behind six-part natural history show Hostile Planet and global event series Yellowstone Live.

Hostile Planet is from Planet Earth II producer Tom Hugh-Jones and takes “an unflinching look at the volatility of our planet and the resilient animals that survive Earth’s most extreme habitats.”

Yellowstone Live is a four-night show that uses an array of camera techniques to explore one of the most iconic wildernesses in the US, following on from last summer’s Earth Live series.

Grant Mansfield, CEO of Plimsoll, described the shows as “amazing and very different,” adding they “showcase the versatility” of his prodco.

Nat Geo has also unveiled three development projects: Ten Borders, from Paramount Television and Scott Free Productions; The White House Detail from writer and executive producer Chuck Hogan (13 Hours); and Hidden Figures, based on the 2016 movie of the same name about three black female mathematicians at Nasa.

Courteney Monroe, CEO of National Geographic Global Networks, said the success of Genius and miniseries The Long Road Home had “emboldened” its scripted strategy.

“We’ve proved we can make noise in a crowded marketplace by utilising the premium power of the National Geographic brand and working with the right talent.”

Carolyn Bernstein, executive VP, global scripted development and production, said: “The projects we’re announcing today are proof of how far we’ve come in such a short time. Although the subjects and narratives we’re announcing are diverse, they all share our organic brand DNA, bringing our audience fact-based, globally relevant stories that are enthralling, engaging and, above all else, entertaining.”

Nat Geo has also bolstered its factual slate with shows including a live event version of Brain Games Live, which is being produced by Nat Geo Studios and explores how the human mind can be tricked.

Factual documentary series include interview show In Their Words, from 1895 Films in association with NHNZ, and Chain of Command: Secret Service, about the top echelon of US law enforcement, from Nat Geo Studios.

Feature docs have also been picked up, including Cristina Costantini and Darren Foster’s Sundance 2018 and SXSW 2018 audience award winner Science Fair. It follows nine students preparing for the 2017 International Science and Engineering Fair.

Nat Geo has also ordered specials such as Mission to the Sun from US prodco Modern Media, which will follow Nasa’s attempts to explore the sun, and Apollo 50th Anniversary, about the Apollo 11 mission to land the first man on the moon.

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