A&E Network Gets Criminal Minds; History Teams Up with Burnett

A&E Network acquired Criminal Minds from CBS Television Distribution, while sister network The History Channel partnered with Mark Burnett on a survival docu-series, Expedition: Stanley and Livingstone.

The Criminal deal gives A&E rights to exclusively run the FBI drama starting in September 2009, when it will be fully stripped. Starting in May 2009, A&E will run episodes from the show’s first three seasons once weekly. The show is produced by ABC Studios in association with CBS Paramount Network Television. Mark Gordon, Ed Bernero and Deborah Spera are executive producers.

Criminal Minds is a strategic acquisition that will serve as an excellent promotional platform for A&E’s cable-leading portfolio of justice programming, as well as a perfect complement to the strong stable of high-quality, character-driven off-net dramas, including CSI: Miami and The Sopranos,” said Bob DeBitetto, executive vice president and general manager of A&E, in a statement. “The addition of this series comes at the perfect time as we get ready to reintroduce original drama series to the network beginning this summer.”

Expedition, from Mark Burnett Productions, will follow five expert explorers retracing the treacherous route U.S. newsman Henry Morton Stanley took in looking for Dr. David Livingstone in Africa in 1869. The explorers will be given only a compass, map and Stanley’s journal. Production on the series is slated to begin this fall with a goal of premiering the show in 2009.

“History is thrilled to be partnering with Mark Burnett on this groundbreaking new historical series,” executive VP/GM Nancy Dubuc said in a statement. “The network continues to seek new ways of making history relevant and immersive. Mark’s skills at telling compelling stories, his signature cinematic eye, his unequaled ability to shoot in the wildest, most remote locations, his ability to predict and capture the heart of human drama and his innate love of history all blend together to make this a revolutionary new series for History.”

“With this exciting new series, I truly feel that I’m going back to my roots and retracing my own passion for creating and producing adventure-driven television,” Burnett said in a statement. “Expedition: Stanley and Livingstone will be an incredible factual historical series that will appeal to a diverse audience and, most important, the history buff. This series is the ultimate historical experience.”