The Smithsonian Channel has begun production on an exclusive doc following the work of singer/actress Cher as she embarks on an adventure to save the “world’s loneliest elephant.”
Cher’s Elephant Airlift (w/t) tells the story of Kaavan, a male Asian elephant who has spent nearly a decade alone in captivity in Pakistan.
A co-founder of Free the Wild, Cher will work alongside an extended team of expert wildlife veterinarians from animal aid group Four Paws International, as well as government officials and sanctuary owners, to safely transport Kaavan to his new home in an elephant refuge in Cambodia.
The doc is slated to premiere on Smithsonian Channel in 2021.
Kaavan’s plight first gained global attention in 2016, when Cher launched a social media campaign to find a better living situation for him. The four-year campaign – which included an original song highlighting Kaavan’s story – culminated in a May 21 decision by the Pakistani High Court to relocate him to an appropriate sanctuary.
Cher’s Elephant Airlift (w/t) is produced by Nutshell TV and Two Wise Monkeys Entertainment for Smithsonian Channel and Terra Mater Factual Studios. Mike Kemp serves as EP for Nutshell TV, while Phil Fairclough serves as EP for Two Wise Monkeys Entertainment. Sabine Holzer is EP for Terra Mater Factual Studios with Tria Thalman, Charles Poe and David Royle serving as EPs for Smithsonian Channel.
ViacomCBS-owned Smithsonian, meanwhile, has also greenlit the series Ultimate Viking (pictured; w/t), a format that combines adventure with immersive living history to reveal secrets of Viking society.
Hosted by Kristofer Hivju (“Tormund Giantsbane” in the HBO series Game of Thrones), the 8 x 60-minute series also includes a one-hour accompanying documentary slated to air in 2021 on Smithsonian Channel.
Filming has started and production will take place in the UK and Norway, with a custom Viking settlement being constructed on the Norwegian coast.
Each episode will explore different aspects of Viking life to discover what it was like to live as a Viking over 1,000 years ago.
Ultimate Viking (w/t) is produced by Wildflame Productions, Zig Zag Productions and Tindefilm for Smithsonian Channel.
Royle and Poe serve as EPs for Smithsonian Channel. Llinos Griffin-Williams and Paul Islwyn Thomas are EPs for Wildflame Productions; Hilde Nerland for Tindefilm; Danny Fenton and Matt Graff for Zig Zag Productions. The series is directed by Showrunner Stephen Shearman.
“We are always looking for innovative ways to re-invent the entertainment experience for our curious global audience,” Royle, EVP and chief programming officer, Smithsonian Channel, said in a statement. “Vikings have long captured the public imagination, and this brand-new format pushes boundaries to create a new way for our audience to be enthralled, sometimes appalled and often surprised by the challenges of Viking life. It’s a modern-day interpretation, told through the lens of history.”