Discovery Communications announces raft of new series across all channels

Highlights of Discovery Communications' Television Critics Association (TCA) presentation in L.A. Friday morning included news of a new Sir David Attenborough-hosted program, Ric O'Barry's series for Animal Planet and Rosie O'Donnell's new show for OWN.
August 9, 2010

Discovery Communications conducted its Television Critics Association (TCA) presentation Friday morning in Los Angeles, announcing new and returning series across all of its channels.

Discovery Channel will be debuting a new natural history program hosted by Sir David Attenborough this fall. First Life will see Attenborough travel the world looking for keys to explain the origins of modern life. Using CGI and footage from the regions Attenborough visits, the program will document how the first animals on this planet evolved into the animals we’re familiar with today.

‘Sir David Attenborough is the gold standard in natural history television,’ says Clark Bunting, president and GM of Discovery Channel. ‘He is behind some of television’s most watched, critically acclaimed programs. Discovery is honored to continue this rich heritage and tradition.’

Produced for Discovery by Atlantic Productions, First Life will study every element of early animals, down to their digestive tracts, and how the existence of a ‘living fossil’ is possible.

While Attenborough investigates the origins of animals for Discovery, Les ‘Survivorman’ Stroud will discover the secrets of thousand-year-old tribal cultures in his new Discovery series Beyond Survival with Les Stroud. When the series debuts on August 27, audiences will see Stroud seek out the ultimate masters of survival: indigenous tribes from the most remote corners of the world.

Produced for Discovery by Les Stroud Productions, the series will see Stroud travel to remote locations to learn survival techniques from tribes such as the Antanosy tribe of Madagascar, the San tribe in the Kalahari Desert and the Hewa people in Papua New Guinea.

Also on Discovery’s slate is a new series following men and women going through military special forces training, Surviving the Cut, produced by 2 Roosters Media, as well as returning series such as Man Vs. Wild and series two of PitchMen.

Also at the Discovery Communications TCA presentation, The Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) announced Rosie O’Donnell’s return to daytime television with a new daily talk show scheduled to premiere in 2011.

‘Rosie is an undeniable talent who has captivated TV audiences for nearly 20 years,’ says Winfrey. ‘She’s a true original, who brings her authentic voice, dynamic energy and pure passion to everything she does.’

The as-yet-unnamed, one-hour program will be produced by O’Donnell and was brought to OWN by SantaBu LLC Inc.’s Dick Robertson and Scott Carlin.

Animal Planet discussed its new mini-series fronted by Dolphin activist and star of The Cove, Ric O’Barry. The three-part Blood Dolphins will debut August 27 and follows O’Barry and his son (filmmaker Lincoln O’Barry) and their campaign to expose the plight of dolphins worldwide. The first episode will see O’Barry and son return to site of The Cove – Taiji, Japan – and discover that, despite the publicity the documentary gave to the area’s practice of dolphin slaughter, it’s still happening. The following episodes will take the father/son team to the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific to investigate the area’s practice of dolhpin trading.

‘Ric and Lincoln have been at the forefront of trying to stop the senseless slaughter and brutal treatment of dolphins. Unfortunately, there is far too much work left to be done and many more places to go to expose these terrible practices,’ says Marjorie Kaplan, president and GM of Animal Planet. ‘By bringing our viewers the premiere of The Cove and this groundbreaking miniseries, we’re shining a light on the cruelty inflicted on these magnificent, wild creatures all over the world.’

The channel also announced a new one-hour Whale Wars special featuring Captain Pete Bethune of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society who spent three months behind bars in Japan. The special will air after the finale of Blood Dolphins on September 17.

Investigation Discovery also announced its fall slate during the event, which realscreen revealed on Thursday and Science Channel announced a slate of new programs, including the series Wonders of the Solar System, produced for Science Channel by the BBC, and Bugging Out, a new series about the world of exotic insects from Wilmer Valderrama’s WV Enterprises and Tom Forman of RelativityREAL.

Science Channel also signed an exclusive development deal with Nick Sagan, sci-fi writer and son of astrophysicist and TV star Carl Sagan, under which he will host and develop new series and specials for the channel. ‘Nick is a gifted storyteller,’ says Debbie Myers, general manager and executive vice president, programming for Science Channel. ‘Growing up with a dad who just so happened to be one of science’s brightest minds and television’s brightest lights, he is a one-of-a-kind voice from sci-fi to sci fact. This fits exactly into Science Channel’s new direction, exploring the unknown and asking the big questions.’

Also, Planet Green announced a new series with inventor Dean Kamen, Dean of Invention, which will see Kamen travel the world in search of the ‘technologies of tomorrow.’ The new series, produced by, will debut October 22 in Planet Green’s Verge primetime block. The channel will also debut a second installment of its water-life focused series Blue August, in which Philippe and Alexandra Cousteau take viewers around the Gulf region to share the personal stories of people whose lives depend on their relationship with their local bodies of water.

About The Author
Managing editor with realscreen publication, an international print and online magazine that covers the non-fiction film and television industries. Darah is an award-winning journalist who has spent over two decades covering a wide range of issues from real estate and urban development to immigration, politics and human rights, primarily with The Vancouver Sun. Prior to joining realscreen, she was editor of Stream Daily, realscreen's sister publication covering the dynamic global digital video industry. She also served a stint as a war reporter in Afghanistan for television and print, and was a national business blogger with Yahoo Canada.