Nat Geo preps docs on LA riots, Jane Goodall

National Geographic Channel has recruited Simon Chinn and Jonathan Chinn's Lightbox, award-winning director Brett Morgen (pictured) and Marina Zenovich to produce landmark documentaries for the U.S. net.
January 21, 2016

National Geographic Channel has recruited Simon Chinn and Jonathan Chinn‘s Lightbox and award-winning director Brett Morgen (pictured) to produce two event documentaries for the U.S. net’s forthcoming schedule.

Lightbox’s tentatively titled LA 92 (1 x 120 minutes) will recount the six-day race riots that began in South Central Los Angeles when four police officers were acquitted of using excessive force in the arrest of Rodney King in 1992. The film will weave together unseen footage captured by LA residents, as well as archive footage, with testimony of those involved with the historic case as the 25th anniversary of the riots approaches.

Jonathan Chinn and Simon Chinn serve as executive producers for Lightbox.

“The LA riots were, for many of us, one of the defining events in the history of modern race relations in America. The images of a lawless Los Angeles on fire, anarchy and violence in the streets are still etched in the memory of anyone who lived through it,” said the duo, executive producers and co-founders of Lightbox, in a joint statement. “Now, with the context, perspective and insight that 25 years of hindsight affords us — and the reputation for access and integrity that the National Geographic brand can provide — there is no better time to tell this story in the way it has always deserved to be told, from the point of view of those involved.”

Meanwhile, Morgen has been enlisted to direct, produce and write the untitled feature biopic on British primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall.

Produced by National Geographic Studios in association with Public Road Productions, the film draws on a recently rediscovered archived film from Goodall’s early research during the 1960s at the Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania.

The untitled Jane Goodall project will be exec produced by Jeff Hasler and Jared Lipworth for National Geographic Studios, with Brett Morgen serving as producer, director and writer for Public Road Productions.

“Brett Morgen has an uncanny ability to completely immerse viewers into his subject matter with his signature style,” said Tim Pastore, president of original programming & production at National Geographic Channel. “I can’t think of anyone better suited to transform this classic National Geographic footage of Dr. Goodall into a modern-day masterpiece that will celebrate her life and contributions to wildlife conservation.”

“While Jane’s story has been told before, our hope is that this film will invite viewers to experience the joy, exhilaration, and thrill that Jane herself experienced in Gombe,” added Morgen.

Both LA 92 and Morgen’s untitled project will premiere globally on the National Geographic Channel in 171 countries and 45 languages. The latter film will receive its TV debut following a theatrical release.

In other National Geographic Channel news, Emmy-winning director Marina Zenovich has been attached to Parched, the  feature documentary from Alex Gibney and his Jigsaw Productions set to examine the global water crisis, as a director and executive producer.

Gibney will serve as executive producer for the feature, while also exec producing the three-hour companion miniseries set to air on NGC.

Simon Chinn, Sebastian Junger, Brett Morgen, and Marina Zenovich will take part in a Nat Geo Channel panel, “Documentary All Stars: The Champions of Non-fiction,” taking place during the Sundance Film Festival on January 23.

The news follow recent wave of commissions from NGC in the documentary genre, following Sebastian Junger’s untitled Syrian and Iraqi war project; and environmental docuseries Years of Living Dangerously.

About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.