(WASHINGTON, D.C. – Nov. 7, 2016) National Geographic Channel’s long-running, critically acclaimed series EXPLORER, which has represented the best of the network for more than three decades, will return in a newly reimagined format on Monday, Nov. 14, at 10/9c. Hosted by Richard Bacon (@richardpbacon) and taped in front of a live audience in a state-of-the-art studio in New York City, cable television’s longest-running documentary series mixes intrepid field pieces, roundtable discussions and in-depth interviews in a continuation of the series’ legacy of pushing the boundaries of journalism. This new evolution of EXPLORER, produced by National Geographic Studios, will air on a weekly basis on National Geographic Channel around the world in 171 countries in 45 languages and in Spanish on Nat Geo Mundo.
“We are excited about the significant expansion in the scope and ambition of EXPLORER, which emulates National Geographic’s ongoing commitment to topical, entertaining and, most importantly, vital reporting,” said Tim Pastore, president of original programming and production, National Geographic Channel. “This is a new chapter for the legendary series, and we are investing heavily in this brand to bring viewers important topics that will both inform and entertain.”
In each episode, studio host Richard Bacon anchors segments and panel discussions as well as a mix of entertaining and hard-hitting investigative stories from all over the world by field correspondents including Bryan Christy (National Geographic Explorer, Explorer: Warlords of Ivory), Ryan Duffy (Vice, AOL/Huffington Post), Francesca Fiorentini (AJ+, Al Jazeera Media Network), Jena Friedman (“Daily Show With Jon Stewart,” “Late Show With David Letterman”), Justin Hall (Explorer: Battle for Virunga), Billie Mintz (“Jesus Town, USA”), Tania Rashid (Viceland, Al Jazeera’s 101 East), Tim Samuels (BBC Television) and Baratunde Thurston (“Daily Show With Trevor Noah”).
Among the stories these field pieces will explore are the following:
--Indonesia’s remote Toraja people practice mysterious and elaborate funeral rituals, which Billie Mintz learns are actually the focal point of a surprisingly modern and lucrative cottage industry.
--Gretna, Louisiana, is a peaceful suburb of New Orleans that arrests people at five times the rate of Baltimore. In 2013, in the small town of about 18,000 people, one out of every three residents — and eight out of nine black residents — were arrested. Baratunde Thurston visits the small town to investigate.
--Across the U.K., children are being interrogated at school about their personal beliefs and religious practices and, in some cases, being torn from their homes because the government believes they are being radicalized. Francesca Fiorentini explores this counterterrorism strategy, known as “Prevent,” that is leading some critics to ask: Have we moved into the Orwellian realm of punishing thought crimes?
Getting news into Syria is serious business. EXPLORER cameras follow a newspaper staff and satire video production team based in Istanbul who are working against the odds to get newspapers into Syria and videos onto the Internet to shift perceptions and keep people informed.
“I think our unbelievably talented group of field correspondents would join me in saying that I’m incredibly proud to be a new part of the National Geographic family,” said Bacon. “To me, National Geographic is a remarkable brand with an incredible legacy, and EXPLORER has always has been, and will continue to be, a huge part of that. There is an enormous responsibility on all of us to maintain this legacy. But seriously, no pressure.”
Leading EXPLORER behind the scenes is a creative team well-versed in studio shows that tackle timely topics on a global scale, including executive producer Lou Wallach, formerly of “The Colbert Report” and “The Talking Dead,” and showrunners Nick McKinney and Meghan O’Hara, industry veterans who have produced several feature documentaries and were also the co-creators of The IFC Media Project.
Launched in 1985, before there even was a National Geographic Channel, EXPLORER has produced more than 2,000 films and has been honored with nearly 60 Emmys and hundreds of other awards. The series has taken viewers to more than 120 countries, opening a window on hidden parts of the world, unlocking mysteries both ancient and modern, and investigating stories of science, nature and culture. Emboldened by the highly respected yellow border, the series’ hallmark is incredible inside access to some of the world’s most exclusive, dangerous or unbelievable people and places.
Premiere episodes include:
EXPLORER: Episode 1
Premieres Monday, Nov. 14, at 10/9c
The season premiere of EXPLORER, hosted by Richard Bacon, tells stories of death. Featured segments include one about a town in Indonesia where people keep their dead at home until they can afford a proper funeral; a panel about death with comedian Larry Wilmore, writer Chuck Klosterman and undertaker Amy Cunningham; a segment on the Hanford Nuclear Reactor, where workers have been cleaning up nuclear waste for 72 years and counting; a one-on-one studio interview with environmental activist Erin Brockovich; and piece about a librarian in Timbuktu who moved books and artifacts to protect them from al-Qaida.
EXPLORER: Episode 2
Premieres Monday, Nov. 21, at 10/9c
Correspondents investigate racial profiling in Gretna, Louisiana, the $80 billion private prison business and hallucinogenic honey hunters in the Himalayas. The New York Times’ Bill Keller is interviewed on prison reform. Host Richard Bacon welcomes Michael Moore as a guest panelist discussing institutional racism along with Lt. Randy Sutton. Eric Garner’s mother, Gwen Carr, joins via satellite.
EXPLORER: Episode 3
Premieres Monday, Nov. 28, at 10/9c
EXPLORER hosted by Richard Bacon, offers stories on surveillance. Featured segments include a panel on “The Kill List,” a list of suspected terrorists marked for death, with commentary from James Woolsey, former CIA director, and a discussion with Lara Logan of CBS about propaganda wars.
Explorer is produced for National Geographic Channel by National Geographic Studios. For National Geographic Studios, executive producers are Lou Wallach, Jeff Hasler and Brian Lovett. For National Geographic Channel, vice president of production and development is Kevin Tao Mohs and president, original programming and production, is Tim Pastore.