Upfronts 2017: Nat Geo Continues Scripted Series Exploration

Network teams with Jay Z, Weinstein Company on documentary series

National Geographic will step up its scripted series lineup with three new projects currently in development, the network announced during its upfront presentation Wednesday.

The new projects include The Birth of The Pill, which follows four crusaders who fought to make safe and effective contraception available to million of women; The Hot Zone, which focuses on the origins of the Ebola virus; and an Untitled Nat Geo Project from Marti Noxon’s Tiny Pyro Productions (Sharp Objects, UnReal) which chronicles two production teams shooting National Geographic’s first TV documentaries in Siberia and Australia, said the network.

The shows join series the Albert Einstein-themed Genius, which was renewed for a second season (with different subject matter) prior to its April 25 premiere, and the blended drama and docuseries Mars, also renewed for a second season, in Nat Geo’s scripted series portfolio.

On the unscripted front, the network has teamed with Shawn "Jay Z" Carter and the Weinstein Company on a six-episode documentary series Race, which looks in systemic injustices in America, as well as with TV journalist Katie Couric on an as yet titled, six-part documentary series that focuses on interviews with thought leaders shaping pivotal topics across the globe. Also, actress Jane Lynch has been tapped to host Nat Geo’s Earth Live event airing July 9 on Nat Geo and Nat Geo Wild, said network officials.

Morgan Freeman, of Nat Geo's high-rated The Story of God With Morgan Freeman, will return as host of The Story of Us With Morgan Freeman, the actor and host announced at the 21st Century Fox hosted "Further Front" event at Jazz at Lincoln Center's Frederick P. Rose Hall in New York Wednesday (April 19) night. Other highlighted programming that evening included the scripted drama The Long Road Home, based on Martha Raddatz's best-selling account of soldiers involved in a deadly skirmish in Iraq in 2004. Renewals also were announced for Nat Geo series StarTalk, the Neil deGrasse Tyson talk show, and long-running documentary series Explorer.

Animal-themed Nat Geo Wild will launch several new series, including When Nature Calls;Pikes Peak Patrol;A Year In Appalachia and Mighty Pacific, said network officials. The network will also bring back several special events including Safari Live: Migration (July 14); SharkFest (July 23), Big Cat Week (winter 2017); and Savage Kingdom II: Uprising (Fall 2007).