Nat Geo Unveils Slate for 2020-21 Including ‘9/11’ Docuseries, ‘Explorer’ Reboot

Reid Nakamura

Nat Geo and Nat Geo Wild unveiled their programming slates for the 2020-21 season on Thursday, including a handful of newly announced projects and new seasons of existing shows.

Among the new projects on National Geographic are “9/11,” a six-part docuseries commemorating the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks; a reboot of the classic documentary series “Explorer”; and the national history series “Planet of the Whales” to celebrate Earth Day 2021. The network will also debut a new series with radio personality Bobby Bones.

Returning series include “Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted,” “Running Wild With Bear Grylls” and the “Brain Games” reboot hosted by Keegan-Michael Key.

“People’s understanding of the world around them has been shaken. And they are coming to National Geographic in record numbers, I believe, because particularly in times of uncertainty, people flock to brands that they trust. And National Geographic is one of the most trusted and beloved brands in the world,” said Monroe. “When it comes to our television programming, we are doubling down on what we do best, which is to deliver premium, creatively ambitious programming that connects audiences to the world around them, satisfies their curiosity and transports them to places they may otherwise never go.”

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Over on Nat Geo Wild, the network will see “The Dog Whisperer” star Cesar Millan return with a new series, “Cesar’s Way.” It will also add a new entry in the “Secrets of the Zoo” franchise titled “Secrets of the Zoo: North Carolina.”

“At a time when families find themselves spending more time together, the need for inspiring programming the entire family can enjoy is ever more pronounced,” Monroe said. “Nat Geo WILD has become the leading destination for programming about animals and the people who love them, offering extraordinary and heartwarming stories that entertain, inspire and educate viewers of all ages. It’s no wonder Nat Geo WILD has experienced record ratings during this period.”

See full descriptions of the new series below.

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NAT GEO:

“9/11”
Six-Part Series From Award-Winning Executive Producers Dan Lindsay and T.J. Martin and 72 Films
Emmy Award-winning 72 Films (“Inside North Korea’s Dynasty”) and Oscar-winning executive producers Dan Lindsay and T.J. Martin (“Undefeated” and LA 92) have come together to produce landmark documentary series 9/11 to mark 20 years since the attacks. This series has been in production for over two years, and will offer a comprehensive account of the day using only archival footage — some never seen before — and new, original interviews with eyewitnesses who have now had almost two decades to reflect on the events they lived through. The result is one of the most powerful, immersive and emotionally charged accounts ever produced about that fateful day.

“BREAKING BOBBY BONES” (working title)
16-Part Series Starring Award-Winning Radio Personality Bobby Bones (BBC Studios)
Bobby Bones is one of the most influential radio personalities in America, a bestselling author and a full-time mentor on “American Idol.”  Even with all the success, Bobby relates to and identifies most with working-class Americans, and he’ll do whatever it takes to ensure he never loses touch. In each half-hour episode, Bobby travels to far-flung destinations across the country to find people with unique jobs, skills, hobbies and abilities. Upon arrival, he meets local heroes who challenge him to conquer (or at least attempt) the tricks of their trades, living up to his mantra — Fight. Grind. Repeat. It’s an action-packed celebration of resilient Americans who work hard, play hard and above all take pride in everything they do. National Geographic is working with long-time partner BBC Studios on the all- new Breaking Bobby Bones, along with three series under the Emmy-winning Life Below Zero brand.

“EXPLORER”
(produced in partnership with ABC News and Lincoln Square Productions)
The EXPLORER series has long been a hallmark of Nat Geo storytelling since it first launched in 1985. The newly reimagined version of this flagship series will be a truly multiplatform content initiative, in partnership with National Geographic magazine and ABC News. Each single-topic hourlong episode takes viewers inside unfolding expeditions around the globe and to the front lines of groundbreaking scientific, technological and historical discoveries, with ABC News talent serving as guides. EXPLORER will cover timely topics, a featured magazine story and more, further deepening viewers’ understanding of the world through provocative storytelling.

“RACE TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH”
Eight-Part Series Premieres Fall 2020 (The New Media Collective, Plum Pictures)
RACE TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH is an adrenaline-fueled global competition that pits four teams against one another in a nonstop sprint across the globe for a $1 million prize. The eight-part series, created by the producers behind the hit show “The Amazing Race,” is an extreme non-elimination competition that follows four groups of adventurers, each starting from different corners of the earth, as they race to a buoy holding a $1 million prize. Each team is challenged with navigating through its route, offering unique terrains, climates and cultures as the team makes its way to a central location. The teams will face untamed jungles, frozen arctic, arid deserts, bustling cities, treacherous mountains and vast oceans to reach the location where all four routes intersect. The first team to arrive at the buoy claims it all.

“TRAFFICKED WITH MARIANA VAN ZELLER”
Eight-Part Series Premieres January 2021 (Muck Media)
Armed with National Geographic’s trademark inside access, TRAFFICKED explores the complex and often dangerous inner workings of the global underworld — smuggling networks, and black and informal markets. Each investigation embeds with Peabody and duPont Award-winning journalist Mariana van Zeller on a mission to understand a specific black market and the lives of the smugglers and outlaws who run it. Offering a rare peek behind the criminal curtain, she tracks the chain of custody of illicit goods, learns the secrets of the trade and provides a 360-degree view of the trafficking world from the points of view of the traffickers, law enforcement and those caught in the crossfire. As she meets the willing players and unwitting pawns who make, buy, sell and move goods, services and ideas, Mariana attempts — with characteristic boldness and empathy — to unearth the geopolitical circumstances and context that create the world’s multitrillion-dollar shadow economy.

“PLANET OF THE WHALES”
Four-Part Event Series With National Geographic Magazine Feature Story, April 2021
(from National Geographic Photographer Brian Skerry, and Brian Armstrong and Shannon Malone-DeBenedictis of Red Rock Films)
Epic, revealing and emotional.  That’s what you get when you immerse yourself in the world of whales and see life and love from their perspective. Three years of filming in 24 locations allows PLANET OF THE WHALES  to take you to the heart of whale culture and to experience the extraordinary communication skills and intricate social structures of five different whale species. With the help of new science and technology, we witness whales making lifelong friendships, teaching clan heritage and traditions to their young, and grieving deeply for the loss of loved ones. The work of acclaimed National Geographic Explorer and Photographer Brian Skerry helps tell the story of species he’s been capturing on film for decades. It’s a personal story that very few are lucky enough to witness. By the end of this journey, we come to understand how whales are far more complex and more like us than we ever imagined. Brian’s latest work will also be featured in National Geographic magazine timed to the special.


NAT GEO WILD:

“Cesar’s Way”
Ten-part Series Premieres Spring 2021 (Leepson Bounds Entertainment)
The Dog Whisperer is back! The world and its “pet parents” have changed since The Dog Whisperer made its debut 16 years ago. People are working longer hours, techno-ference (constant distractions from texting, social media, 6,000 cable channels and apps galore) is on the rise, and owners’ relationships with their dogs are suffering. Add to that the fact that, right now, dog adoptions have hit record highs — up to 90 percent in some major cities. That’s great news, but there’s a flip side: more pooches; more problems, and all of this is prompting a host of new canine behavioral problems at a time when we need our dogs the most. Pet owners across America need help, and Cesar Millan is ready to show them the way. Cesar’s positivity is a beacon of light in troubled times; his can-do attitude and his heartwarming transformations make us feel like we can overcome all obstacles, starting with our own disgruntled, four-legged pals! Get ready for a new look and a newly energized and exuberant leader of the pack!

“Secrets of the Zoo: North Carolina”
Eight-part Series Premieres Fall 2020 (Double Act TV)
Welcome to North Carolina, home to one of the largest zoos in the world. Spread out over an enormous 2,600 acres, this AZA-accredited zoo has more than 1,000 individual animals, more than 200 species and a diverse range of landscapes, including a swamp, prairie, grasslands, forest and even a desert. Animals live in these lush natural environments and even share habitats as they would in the wild. At a time when the traditional concept of a zoo may seem out of sync with animal welfare, the North Carolina Zoo leads the way and has achieved multiple awards for its global conservation work. Secrets of the Zoo: North Carolina features stories of every kind, including emergency and routine animal procedures, animal husbandry and the rehabilitation and release of native wildlife.

“The Puppy Draft”
Special Event Premieres Spring 2021 (Megalomedia)
Each year hundreds of young professional athletes pick up and move to one of 32 major cities in order to live their dream and achieve greatness. This transition; however, could become a bit lonely, which is why they may want to bring along a companion: a rescue puppy! Just as cities get new players, they also are getting new mascots. This is…The Puppy Draft! Nat Geo WILD is “drafting” the cutest, furry friends for “paw-fect” matches with star athletes to join their new teams and hometowns. See which puppy mascot ends up as the No. 1 draft pick!

Read original story Nat Geo Unveils Slate for 2020-21 Including ‘9/11’ Docuseries, ‘Explorer’ Reboot At TheWrap