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Upfronts ’19: Nat Geo, ABC unveil 2019/2020 programming slates

Months after finalizing its acquisition of 21st Century Fox’s film and television assets, The Walt Disney Company’s portfolio of channels have unveiled their programming line-ups for the upcoming year as ...
May 14, 2019

Months after finalizing its acquisition of 21st Century Fox’s film and television assets, The Walt Disney Company’s portfolio of channels have unveiled their programming line-ups for the upcoming year as part of the media company’s 2019 Upfront presentation, held at Lincoln Center’s David Geffen Hall in New York.

Read a breakdown of each network below:

ABC

Comedian and actress Tiffany Haddish is set to host and executive produce the reboot of the classic variety show Kids Say the Darndest Things on ABC.

The refreshed format, produced by CBS Television in association with Anvil 1893 Entertainment and She Ready Productions, showcases a mix of in-studio segments and taped pieces from across the country, all set in front of a live studio audience.

Haddish will interact with a diverse set of children who offer up their points of view on numerous topics such as sportsmanship to dating and tech advice, and more.

Eric Schotz and Haddish serve as executive producers on the series.

Kids Say the Darndest Things will air on Sundays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC this fall.

FREEFORM

The American pay television channel showcased its commitment to bold original programming that champions its young adult audience with the greenlight of the holiday-themed competition series Wrap Battle, alongside a number of scripted launches.

Executive produced by Michael Levitt, the unscripted competition format will put individuals to the test in an elimination gift-wrapping battle for the holidays. Each episode of Wrap Battle will feature contestants as they battle it out through a variety of head-to-head challenges in order to win a grand prize of US$50,000.

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

National Geographic’s 2019-2020 programming slate sees a host of returning series and new programs including its first-ever global adventure competition series Race to the Center of the Earth.

Race to the Center of the Earth (pictured) pits four teams of extreme adventurers against one another in a journey across the world to reach a buoy in the middle of the ocean that holds the US$1 million prize. Produced by Plum Pictures and Profile Pictures, the eight-part series premieres Summer 2020.

Nat Geo has also rebooted the quiz show Brain Games, which challenges celebrities to discover their special brain power through interactive games, illusions and social experiments. The eight-part series from Magical Elves and Alfred Street Industries is set to premiere December 2019.

Other highlights include two unscripted access series: Trafficked with Marian Van Zeller and Lost Cities With Albert Lin.

From Muck Media, Trafficked explores the inner working of the world’s smuggling networks, black and informal markets. The eight-part series, premiering April 2020, will see Peabody- and duPont Award-winning journalist Marian van Zeller on a mission to understand these complex and dangerous networks. Meanwhile, National Geographic explorer Albert Lin goes on a high-tech archaeology adventure to uncover and resolve mysteries of the past in the Blakeway Productions and Arrow Media produced six-part series Lost Cities With Albert Lin. The series is set to premiere in October 2019.

Additionally, Nat Geo will also be hosting two new live specials in China’s Hidden Kingdoms and Alaska Live. Produced by Brian Leith Productions, the five-part China’s Hidden Kingdom will reveal the beauty of China’s hidden natural kingdoms: high mountains, tropical jungles, bamboo forests, Great Plains and temperate forests. Shot in 4K and slated for January 2020, the stars of the series are the iconic animals – giant panda, snow leopard, jungle creators and more – who inhabit these landscapes.

After heading to China, Nat Geo will take audiences to Alaska for a live series in 2020. Produced by Plimsoll Productions, Alaska Live will feature more than 25 cameras and 180 crew members as they capture and follow animal characters and scientists who search out bears, wolves, whales, eagles and other creatures. The cameras will go live from Kenai Fjords National Park, Prince William Sound, Katmai National Park, Bristol Bay and Tongass National Forest to uncover the threats these animals face their amazing survival skills.

Elsewhere, the network’s new primetime weekly event block, ‘Explorer Sunday’, will air specials that capture the heart of exploration through provocative storytelling. The one-hour documentary Explore: Finding Amelia will feature Nat Geo explorer Dr. Robert Ballard as he journeys to solve the mystery of the disappearance of aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart, who disappeared in 1937 while flying with her navigator, Fred Noonan, over the Pacific Ocean. Ballard and his team will explore the surrounding areas of a remote island in the Pacific with the latest in tech and scientific expertise to try and figure out what happened to Earhart. Finding Amelia is produced by National Geographic and will bow in Fall 2019.

Academy Award nominee, journalist, filmmaker and best-selling author Sebastien Junger and producing partner Nick Quested examine the impact of narco-traffickers, corrupt politicians and business interests in the one-hour documentary special Hell On Earth: Mexico. The documentary, produced by Goldcrest Films, shows how corruption and greed have left Mexican citizens desperately fighting of fleeing their homeland for a better life elsewhere.

Returning series include Life Below Zero, Wicked TunaGordon Ramsay: Uncharted, Running Wild with Bear Grylls and Drain the Oceans.

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