On the Slate: Thirteen/WNET, Terranoa and Rive Gauche

Lumberjacks, Babylon and dead guys with secrets make up the new output from Thirteen/WNET, Terranoa and Rive Gauche.
September 11, 2008

Lumberjacks, Babylon and dead guys with secrets make up the new output from Thirteen/WNET, Terranoa and Rive Gauche.

Digging up secrets, literally

Though the series has been airing on PBS for eight years, apparently dead people still have lots of secrets that need to be uncovered. Thirteen/WNET dug up five new stories of long forgotten mysteries for the Secrets of the Dead series. Executed in Error is the story of Hawley Crippen, an American doctor in the living in the UK in the early 1900s who was convicted of poisoning and dismembering his wife. Coproduced by Films of Record in association with Five and History UK, the doc reveals, through forensic evidence that was kept by Scotland Yard for nearly a century, that the body found in Crippen’s house wasn’t his wife. In fact, it wasn’t even a woman. ‘The Crippen case was the O.J. Simpson case of 1910,’ says Jared Lipworth, director of science programs and executive producer of Secrets of the Dead.

The other projects in this series include Aztec Massacre, a story of an archeological find in Mexico that rewrites the history of the interaction between the Aztecs and the Conquistadors, Doping for Gold, which looks into the effects of the East German Olympic doping program during the cold war and Battle for the Bible, a look at the struggles of the first three people to translate the Bible into English. Aztec is produced by Firefly in association with Five; Doping is by Brook Lapping for Five; and Battle for the Bible is from Pioneer for Channel 4.

I’m a lumberjack and I’m okay

Deadly jobs are an audience grabber, or so has been proven by Ice Road Truckers and Deadliest Catch, so Rive Gauche is delivering two lumberjack-ish programs by the end of the year.

First is Saw For Hire, a half hour program following Paul Nosak and his team of tree cutters as they save homes, cars and other personal property from the destructive power of trees: the deadliest of vegetation. ‘It’s a quirky group of guys that are put together,’ says Mark Rafalowski, president of acquisitions and production at Rive Gauche. ‘It’s like The Office meets Ax Men.’ Rive Gauche discovered Nosak through his self funded reality show that aired on CBS affiliate KOTV in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The new version costs $100,000 per half hour and will wrap in mid November.

Then it’s back into the trees for the LA-based prodco with The Cut, a half hour series that goes on the job with lumberjacks as they deal with the various dangers that come with the territory. From rookie lumberjacks who are destined to cause trouble, to the incredible timetables the crew has to keep in order to get the next job. ‘It’s like a never-ending, literally sudden death playoff every time,’ says Rafalowski. The Cut is also $100,000 per half hour and will wrap at the end of the year.

Destiny in your DNA

In Iraq, where war continues to ravage Baghdad, only 55 miles south stands a city that is mythologized to this day: Babylon.

The Terranoa distributed one off B for Babylone revisits the history of this ancient Mesopotamian city to see how much the legend of this place continues to drive it to this day. This Les Film du Tambour de Soie produced doc has already aired on ARTE and YLE and was made for €250,000 for the one hour.

The catalogue Paris-based Terranoa is bringing to MIPCOM also includes the one off Epigenetics, the silence of our genes. Attempting to blow the lid off the mystery of our genes, Heliox productions’ Epigenetics travels to seven different countries to meet expert scientists who will explain how our genes manage to adapt to our environments and what that says, if anything, about the capacity for our destinies to be written on our DNA. The 52 minute doc cost €460,000 and will wrap by January 2009.

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