Upfronts 2009: History Unveils Expansive Slate

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Complete Upfronts 2009 coverage from Multichannel News

With a bevy of new series and specials either greenlit or in various stages of development for the 2009-2010 season, History is making its largest investment in programming.
The programming push, according to network officials who would not disclose spending levels, comes as History looks to steel itself as the leading non-fiction cable network among adults.
The network, which will be on display as part of parent AETN's presentation at the Rainbow Room in Manhattan this evening, ended 2008 with its best year ever among adults 25 to 54 and 18 to 49. History closed the year as the top non-sports, non-fiction network among men 25 to 54 and climbed into the medium's top five among all ad-supported networks in that demo, according to History officials.
Year to date, the network was up 7% among adults 25 to 54 and up 8% among adults 18 to 49 versus 2008.
"The network's goal is to establish itself as the No. 1 non-fiction cable network in adults 25 to 54," said Nancy Dubuc, executive vice president and general manager of History, in a statement. "We are proud to take History on a journey of vast proportions. With today's mass of options, brand is key, and we sit atop one of the best in the media landscape. We are honored to work with top talent such as Mark Burnett, Thom Beers, Chris Moore (Project Greenlight and Good Will Hunting), Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, famed producer Jane Root, and many others. Together, we are partnering on innovative, game-changing television."
To that end, History's boldest venture is America The Story Of Us, a twelve-part series from former Discovery Channel head Root. The program aspires to show how events small and large are intrinsically linked to the exploration and innovation, which led the nation from the frontier to 21st century cities, from the Mississippi to the moon, from Jamestown to 9/11 up to present day.
Among series approved by History are Pawning History, a 13-episode look the only family-owned pawn shop in Las Vegas; Madhouse, which examines the Saturday night competition on a quarter-mile auto track in Winston-Salem, N.C.; WWII in HD, wherein History the network has restored thousands of hours from the conflict in the enhanced format; Nostradamus Effect, examining and deconstructing the prophecies of Nostradamus and other historic prognosticators; and MysteryQuest, where the unexplained, from the Bermuda Triangle to Atlantis, are explained.
These newcomers join new seasons of How The Earth Was Made, The Universe, Monsterquest, Ancient Discoveries and Modern Marvels, as well as Beers's Original Productions' Ice Road Truckers and Ax Men.
On the specials front, History's biggest play is The People Speak, under which the network and The People Speak Organization, Voices of a People's History of the United States will combine on a multi-tiered marketing and programming event, including a documentary film, co-branded nationwide educational outreach and a wide-ranging interstitial branding campaign.
The two-hour film, produced by First Tuesday Media, ArtFire Films, Cross River Pictures, The Johnson/Roessler Company, Membrane, and Brolin Productions, features dramatic performances from such celebrities as Matt Damon, Josh Brolin and Viggo Mortensen, as well as musical appearances by Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and Eddie Vedder.
Other key projects include The Naturalized, from Jon Stewart's Bubulah Production, a film following six adults from six nations as they undergo the naturalization process; Holy Grail in America, a two-hour film that suggests the Knights Templar discovered America 100 years before Christopher Columbus and perhaps had The Holy Grail in tow; Surviving The Holidays with Lewis Black, a follow-up to the comedian's special, History of the Joke; and 24 Hours After: The Kennedy Assassination, a re-examination, using new public document and a ticking clock as on-air device, of the pivotal day in U.S history.