Extra: WorkShop links with B.Bold, PBS gets MacArthur funds

In today's 'Extra' wrap, The WorkShop forms a joint venture production unit, two PBS doc strands receive renewed funding, and Discovery Canada orders its second 4K series. (Pictured: How Hard Can It Be host Andrew Younghusband)
January 31, 2016

PBS doc strands receive MacArthur funds

The MacArthur Foundation has renewed its support for PBS and World Channel documentary strands ‘POV’ and ‘America Reframed,’ respectively, with a three-year grant worth US$2.25 million through to 2018.

The grant will support the PBS film series and its community, education and digital innovation campaigns. The documentary strand, which is produced by American Documentary and returns this June, will focus its 29th season on Tod Lending’s All the DifferenceDavid Osit and Malika Zouhali-Worrall‘s Thank You For Playing, and Bernardo Ruiz’s Kingdom of Shadows.

Meanwhile, World Channel’s year-round ‘America Reframed’ will return for its fourth season on February 2 with Danielle Beverly’s Old South, documenting two racially different communities living on a Georgia block. The strand is co-produced between American Documentary and World Channel.

WorkShop, B.Bold open JV production unit

Philadelphia-based indie The WorkShop has launched a joint venture production unit with New York firm B.Bold Content Studios to co-develop multi-platform unscripted content for both the U.S. and international markets ahead of this week’s Realscreen Summit in Washington DC.

The currently unnamed outfit will be headed by Benjamin Ringe, who previously worked alongside WorkShop CEO and executive producer Tom Farrell at Banyan Productions. Most recently, Ringe served as senior VP of development and executive producer at NBC’s Peacock Productions, where he was charged with generating and developing multi-platform, factual content for NBCUniversal’s properties and outside clients.

In other WorkShop news, the company has teamed with former American Idol contestants Clay Aiken and Ruben Studdard to produce the travelogue series Unexpected America. The program will shadow the two musicians as they journey to popular tourist attractions across America. The duo will travel without the use of a map or GPS – unless they’re hopelessly lost – and instead rely on the kindness of strangers to lead them to unexpected destinations.

Finally, production is slated to begin on February 1 for the original series Alaskan Healing. Developed and produced by The WorkShop, the action adventure competition series will showcase American veterans as they overcome obstacles and push themselves to their limits. The series - which is exec produced by Farrell, combat veteran Flip and Mike Klein – will also offer inspirational tales of war and survival through first-hand accounts.

Discovery Canada readies second 4K series

Discovery Channel in Canada has commissioned the tentatively titled Andrew Younghusband’s How Hard Can It Be? from Toronto-based Proper Television.

The 10 x 30-minute docuseries will be filmed in 4K Ultra HD and is set to shadow Canada’s Worst Driver host Andrew Younghusband (pictured) as he attempts to beat expert gamesmen in the most obscure and difficult activities.

The series will premiere this fall across Discovery Canada and Discovery Go.

“We piloted this show concept in a series of original shorts as our first 4K original project on Discovery GO last December, and are now looking forward to bringing an entire season run to the network,” said Edwina Follows, director of commissioning and production at Discovery Networks Canada, in a statement.

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Jonathan Paul is a Toronto-based writer into creativity, content, advertising, tech, comics, video games, film, TV, time and space travel.