Discovery orders Pilgrim’s “Wheel,” ID preps “O.J. is Innocent”

Discovery Channel has ordered a survival series spanning eight ecosystems along with a doc series on an astronaut's treasure map, while Investigation Discovery has greenlit a true crime series on the O.J. Simpson case. (Pictured: Discovery's The Wheel)
March 31, 2016

Discovery Channel will challenge survivalists to conquer eight different ecosystems in its latest adventure series, The Wheel.

Produced by Fast N’ Loud shop Pilgrim Media Group, the series will see participants tough it out in eight different landscapes around the world – ranging from frozen tundra to jungles – with each requiring a different set of survival skills, and all movements between ecosystems dictated by a rotating wheel. Locations for the show have yet to be revealed.

Speaking with realscreen, Pilgrim CEO Craig Piligian said The Wheel will hearken back to Discovery’s Mark Burnett-produced Eco-Challenge, which aired on the net from 1995 until 2000. The “wheel” element of the show refers to an on-screen wheel graphic that will operate independently, and ultimately decide where the participants end up next. The last person standing will win the series.

“They don’t know when the wheel turns, but when the wheel turns, these eight people are switched in different ecosystems. They won’t have any idea why they’re going from the tundra to the desert or why they’re going from the rainforest to the ocean,” explains the exec. “They don’t know when it starts, they don’t know when it ends, and they won’t know when people drop out.”

The Wheel will not be judged, nor will there be a host, says Piligian, who says Pilgrim approached Discovery with the project. An episode order and air date for the series have not yet been announced.

For Pilgrim, executive producers include Piligian and showrunner Sam Korkis, while Joseph Boyle and Kyle Wheeler are exec producing for Discovery, and Brian Peterson is the net’s coordinating producer.

Meanwhile, Discovery Channel has also ordered the Ample-produced doc series Cooper’s Treasure, which follows treasure hunter Darrell Miklos as he attempts to decode a treasure map belonging to his boyhood idol and friend, astronaut Gordon Cooper.

Cooper, who broke a record in 1963 for the longest space flight, drew up a map from space of various “anomalies” he noted around the South Caribbean. Before passing away, the astronaut shared the map with Miklos, with the hope that the treasure might ultimately be found. The doc series follows Miklos as he sets out with a team of explorers and researchers to uncover the treasure and Cooper’s dream.

Executive producers for Ample are Ari Mark and Phil Lott, while Boyle and coordinating producer Peterson are exec producing for the net.

Elsewhere, Discovery’s sister net Investigation Discovery is the latest broadcaster to greenlight a true crime series based on the O.J. Simpson trial.

Produced by Objective Media Group America and All3Media America, Hard Evidence: O.J. is Innocent will offer a new theory and unreleased evidence to explore the possibility of a new suspect behind the 1994 murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman.

The six-part series features Dallas-based private investigator William C. Dear who has, over the course of 21 years, accumulated “undisputed facts and critical new evidence,” according to the net. In addition to the hard evidence, audiences will also be introduced to an as yet undiscovered eyewitness.

The series, narrated and exec produced by Emmy-awarded actor Martin Sheen, will see Dear partnering with Dr. Kris Mohandie, a former forensic psychologist with the Los Angeles Police Department, and Derrick Levasseur, a Rhode Island police sergeant, to re-examine the entire case in order to reveal information pointing to a new suspect in the criminal investigation.

Jimmy FoxGreg LipstoneLayla Smith, Lorna Thomas, Sheen and Dear serve as executive producers on the series.

Hard Evidence: O.J. is Innocent is slated to premiere in early 2017 on Investigation Discovery.

“The series intends to explore three questions,” said Sheen in a statement. “What if there were enough evidence that proved O.J. Simpson did not murder his ex-wife Nicole or Ron Goldman? What if the real killer were still at large? And finally, what if a grand jury convened to reconsider the case based on new evidence?”

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