In addition to being a coproducing partner on Human Planet, Discovery Communications has a couple of other landmark series up its sleeve that will roll out over the next few years.
Curiosity, a multi-million dollar endeavor that Discovery announced in September, will be filmed over five years and begin airing at the beginning of 2011. The series will feature seven episodes per year, examining questions in different areas of study ranging from physics, to geology to medicine.
While Curiosity is in development, another big budget series for the network is just now heading into production which will debut on Discovery’s networks worldwide in 2012. Wild Planet: North America (w/t), fully commissioned by Discovery through Wild Horizons, will be a seven-part natural history documentary series traveling through the various habitats across North America to tell the stories of their origins. Each episode, in a similar style to Planet Earth and Human Planet, will focus on a different type of terrain within the continent. For example, one episode will visit the coastal locales while another will focus on desert regions and yet another will head into forests.
When Keith Scholey, director of Wild Horizons, was leaving his post as head of the BBC’s Natural History Unit, he knew Discovery was looking for a follow up to Planet Earth, but one that Discovery could produce independently of the BBC so that it could debut the program on all its channels worldwide. ‘We began talking about it and [Keith] had an idea to explore the North American continent,’ says John Ford, president and GM of Discovery Channel. ‘That seemed, for us, to be a great way to kick off what we eventually started calling Wild Planet; the idea that we can go around the planet and focus on wild spaces.’
Ford sees the program rolling out into other continents in the future. Noting that this is a multi-million dollar effort, it’s one of the most expensive programs Discovery has ever made, ‘and one of the more expensive programs anybody else has ever done in natural history,’ adds Ford.