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Nat Geo orders anthology franchises on momentous events, natural disasters

Disney-owned National Geographic has greenlit two unscripted anthology franchises, one focusing on crucial days in US history and another exploring some of the biggest natural disasters in recent times.

Courteney Monroe

Produced by 72 Films, three-part series JFK: One Day in America and The Cult: One Day in Jonestown come after 9/11: One Day in America, the six-part Emmy Award-winning documentary series that marked 20 years since the September 11 attacks in 2001.

JFK: One Day in America focuses on the assassination of President John F Kennedy on November 22, 1963, while The Cult: One Day in Jonestown, focuses on the Jonestown massacre of November 18, 1978.

Meanwhile, another as-yet-untitled franchise will focus on the biggest natural disasters in living memory with the first two editions delving into the Indian Ocean Tsunami on December 26, 2004, and Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Tsunami (working title) comes from Blast Films and will premiere in 2024, which will be the 20th anniversary of what is described as the world’s worst-ever natural disaster, when more than 230,000 people lost their lives.

Nat Geo said the four-part series will be the most comprehensive and immersive, minute-by-minute account of the tsunami’s seven-hour trail of destruction across two continents, 14 countries and 5,000 miles.

Katrina (wt) comes from Lightbox and premieres in 2025, the 20th anniversary of what is described as America’s worst natural disaster.

The five-part series aims to tell the definitive story of Katrina from a period of two decades of hindsight, looking at the disaster in forensic detail as it happened as well as seemingly unrelated events that played out years, and sometimes even decades, prior to the catastrophe to see not only how Katrina unfolded in the way it did, but why. Nat Geo said the series will raise searing questions about race in America, many of which remain unanswered.

National Geographic’s content president Courteney Monroe announced the unscripted anthology franchises at the Television Critics Association’s Winter Press Tour last week.

“These new documentary franchises exemplify our aim to be the brand of record for events that forever changed the shape of history. Weaving together never-before-seen archive and powerful first-person testimony, these powerful and riveting series will serve as the definitive stories of these momentous events,” said Monroe.

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