New York -- The History Channel will kick off its fourth
season with more than 75 percent original primetime programming, with three new original
series set to debut and a rejiggered Sunday lineup aimed at men, officials said last week.
"We're trying to make the network more
accessible," said Dan Davids, History's executive vice president and general
manager. "In the new schedule, we're trying to be more original, more accessible
and more exciting in the topics that we cover."
For the 1998 to 1999 season, History will add new original
series Time Machine, Sworn to Secrecy and Tales of the Gun to its
schedule, and it will expand Modern Marvels to four nights per week. And on Sunday
nights -- probably the most competitive evening in television -- History is crafting a
"guy night" aimed at men.
"We want to develop some real appointment viewing [for
Sunday primetime]," Davids said.
In the new season, History will unveil its most ambitious
undertaking to date: the 15-and-one-half-hour The Century: America's Time. The
special -- a co-production with ABC News, which will be hosted by Peter Jennings -- is
slated to air in the spring of 1999.
History is increasing its original-programming offerings by
88 percent next season compared with this season. But Davids wouldn't say how much
more History will be spending on programming, including on the three new series.
As part of the coming programming changes, Time Machine,
a weekly, two-hour documentary series, will start airing at 8 p.m. Saturdays. The show
will highlight social and political topics, with segments such as "Niagara: A History
of the Falls" and "A Look at the '70s."
As part of an all-new Sunday "guy" lineup,
History will premiere a new series called Tales of the Gun, at 8 p.m., which will
look at the role of the gun in history. Another addition to the Sunday schedule will be
the all-new Sworn to Secrecy, occupying the 9 p.m. time slot, which will examine
clandestine military and political intelligence operations throughout the 20th century. It
will be narrated by actor Charlton Heston.
And History Undercover and True Action Adventures
will both be moving to Sunday nights, at 10 p.m. and 11 p.m., respectively.
To help make room for these shows, Modern Marvels,
History's original documentary series, will expand from Sunday night to four nights
per week -- Monday through Thursday at 10 p.m. -- starting Aug. 3.
A show that had run on a weekly basis on A&E Network, 20th
Century with Mike Wallace, will join History's lineup this fall, stripped
weeknights at 7 p.m. To commemorate the millennium, History will also air four two-hour 20th
Century specials throughout the year.
History's two flagship series will also be returning
for the new season -- In Search of History Monday through Friday at 8 p.m., and History
Alive Monday through Thursday at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m.