History has announced its upfront slate, adding 15 new original series and 10 specials ranging from archeological exploits to a U.S. version of Brit hit Top Gear, as well as the net’s first scripted fare.
In a statement that announces highlights of the new roster, History says it’s increasing its investment in programming with an aim towards moving into the top five in key demos during the 2010-2011 season. ‘We’ve had an amazing year, with groundbreaking, trend-setting programming, from America: The Story of Us and WWII in HD to Pawn Stars and American Picker,’ says History president and GM Nancy Dubuc. ‘This year we have been consistently top ten in all key demos and in 2010-2011 our goal is to be top five in adults 25 to 54.’
As for the new programming behind that push, one of the previously announced titles getting the most buzz is The Kennedys, an eight-hour miniseries that marks History’s first move into the scripted arena. Due to shoot in Toronto this summer and premiering in 2011, the series will star Greg Kinnear as JFK and Katie Holmes as First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, with a creative team that includes 24 co-creator/EP Joel Surow and his colleague on the Fox series, EP Stephen Kronish, who will be writing the miniseries.
Unscripted fare that’s making its way to History includes two new series each from Original Productions and Pilgrim Films & Television. Original Productions’ new efforts include Around the World in 80 Ways (w/t), in which two rivals will have to travel the world using 80 unique modes of transportation throughout the race, and Vigilante Inspector, featuring two engineers examining the rapidly decaying infrastructure of the U.S., from bridges to highways to ‘pesky potholes.’
Pilgrim Films & Television is bringing the previously announced Top Shot to the net, a 10-episode series premiering June 6 which pits America’s top marksmen against each other in historically-based competitions. Also from Pilgrim: Only in America with Larry the Cable Guy, in which the actor/comedian travels across the U.S. and frames his experiences and the places he visits under a decidedly irreverent lens.
Other new series on the slate include the U.S. version of UK hit Top Gear, produced by History and BBC Worldwide and premiering in fall of 2010. Comic book legend Stan Lee, creator of such venerable titles as Spiderman and X-Men, joins History via Stan Lee’s Superhumans. Produced for History by Off the Fence and hosted by Lee and Daniel Browning Smith, aka ‘the world’s most flexible man,’ the series will travel the world in search of real ‘X-People’ – human beings with amazing powers that stem from genetic differences. The eight-episode series premieres in Q3 of 2010.
Go-Go Luckey and Berman/Braun bring 10 episodes of Brad Meltzer’s Decoded to the mix, in which the best-selling author uncovers hidden meanings and codes behind everyday sights. Chasing Mummies, produced for History by BoutiqueTV, chronicles the efforts of legendary archeologist Dr. Zahi Hawass as he and his team uncover new treasures in 250 digs throughout Egypt. Swamp People, produced for History by Original Media, follows Cajun ‘swampers’ in Louisiana during the 30-day alligator hunting season.
Greenlit specials include History of the World in Two Hours (w/t), produced by Flight 33 Productions; two presidential specials including the two-hour Jefferson produced by Left/Right and Reagan produced by Boom Pictures; President’s Book of Secrets from Prometheus Entertainment; Who Really Discovered America? from Committee Films and Voices from Inside the Towers, produced by Darlow Smithson Productions, which examines the stories behind some of the phone calls emanating from those trapped within the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001.
Returning series include Original Productions’ Ice Road Truckers and Ax Men; American Pickers from Cineflix Productions; the Leftfield Pictures-produced Pawn Stars; Modern Marvels, produced by Actuality Productions and The Universe, produced by Flight 33 Productions.
‘We always appreciate and seek out new and unique stories, because history is not the story of millions – it’s a million stories,’ Dubuc said. ‘We challenge ourselves each and every day to push the envelope, to take History to places none of us, or our viewers, have ever been. We are fortunate because history gives us the greatest stories of all time.’