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History announces boundary-broadening slate

History Channel recently announced its upcoming slate of greenlit and returning shows, further reflecting its move towards a new, younger median demographic than in the channel's past. The announcement, timed for the channel's Upfront presentation, also heralded History's recent ratings successes in 2008 and first quarter 2009, and noted that the lineup is the result of the network's most substantial programming investment to date.
May 15, 2009

History Channel recently announced its upcoming slate of greenlit and returning shows, further reflecting its move towards a new, younger median demographic than in the channel’s past. The announcement, timed for the channel’s Upfront presentation, also heralded History’s recent ratings successes in 2008 and first quarter 2009, and noted that the lineup is the result of the network’s most substantial programming investment to date.

Particularly prominent in the new slate are America: The Story of Us, a comprehensive 12-part series from Jane Root’s new prodco Nutopia, which will explore the many facets of American history, and the multimedia project The People Speak (produced by First Tuesday Media, ArtFire Films, Cross River Pictures, The Johnson/Roessler Company, Membrane and Brolin Productions). The multi-platform project, which has Matt Damon and Josh Brolin on board as exec producer as well as performers, is an historical exploration of American democracy, culminating in a documentary special, and incorporating an educational campaign and other celebrity contributions from the likes of Marisa Tomei, Viggo Mortensen and Don Cheadle.

‘The network’s goal is to establish itself as the #1 non-fiction cable network in Adults 25-54,’ said History executive VP and general manager Nancy Dubuc. ‘We are honored to work with top talent such as Mark Burnett [who brings The Expedition to History, premiering May 31], 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.’

Other new shows aiming to, in Dubuc’s words, ‘broaden the boundaries of History,’ include the 13-part reality series Pawning History, a Leftfield Pictures production following the daily business of a family-owned pawn shop in Las Vegas; WWII in HD, a 10-part series produced by Lou Reda Productions, showcasing restored color footage of the Second World War in HD and incorporating letters, journals and personal accounts of Americans who fought in it; and Mysteryquest, a 10-episode series produced by KPI Productions that attempts to put popular myths and legends to scientific and historical tests.

Also debuting on History’s new slate is a three-episode reality series produced by Triage Entertainment tentatively called Madhouse, in which personality-clashing car enthusiasts build and modify their racing machines in homage to the stock-car racing traditions of decades past, as well as the 12-episode Nostradamus Effect from Workaholic Productions, which compares compelling prophecies with the historical events that they supposedly predicted.

Among History’s programming specials are: Holy Grail in America, a two-hour special by Committee Films re-examining the discovery of the Kensington Rune Stone and whether or not new evidence could suggest that the Knights Templar arrived in America before Columbus and brought the legendary Holy Grail with them; The Naturalized, a two-hour special from Jon Stewart’s Bubulah Productions focusing on the personal plights of immigrants trying to become naturalized US citizens; Time Travel Unlimited’s 24 Hours After: The Kennedy Assassination, a special focusing on the immediate aftermath of Kennedy’s death and Lyndon Johnson’s first hours as president; and Triage Entertainment’s Surviving the Holidays with Lewis Black, an examination of the cultural evolution of the Thanksgiving-New Year’s holiday season hosted by comedian Lewis Black.

Returning shows include the Whitewolf Entertainment-produced Monsterquest; Ancient Discoveries produced by Wild Dream Films; Modern Marvels from Actuality Productions; the Flight 33-produced The Universe and two hits produced by Original Productions, Ax Men and Ice Road Truckers.

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