A+E Networks Taps Kevin Costner, Morgan Freeman, Janet Jackson, Anthony Anderson in New Slate

Morgan Freeman (Image credit: History )

The A+E Networks will team with a bevy of top celebrities including Kevin Costner, Morgan Freeman, Janet Jackson and Anthony Anderson for major television projects, the company announced Wednesday during its upfront presentation.

History Channel will partner with Costner on a new eight-episode series The West, which will capture the diverse, complex character and untold stories that defined the “Wild West” and that continue to shape our country today, according to the network.

Also: A+E Promises Advertisers at Upfront It Will Deliver Peak Content 

Freeman will helm the upcoming documentary Black Patriots: The 761st Battalion, which will tell the true story of the 761st Tank Battalion, the first Black tank unit to serve in combat during WWII. Bradley Cooper will executive produce FDR, a three-night documentary debuting on Memorial Day that will provide a portrait of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The network is also developing projects with Dan Aykroyd and Michael Imperioli.

Lifetime will again partner with Janet Jackson on a new documentary airing on both Lifetime and A&E that focus on her new concert tour and reunion with the Jacksons, said the network. Also simulcasting on both networks is TLC Forever, a documentary celebrating one of the top-selling female groups of all time. 

A&E will follow actors Anderson and Cedric the Entertainer on a new 10-episode documentary series, Kings of BBQ, in which the two actors will work together to build their own barbeque product empire.

"Our goal within this media evolution is to meet audiences wherever and however  they consumer content, by working with great worldwide storytellers to develop and execute their vision," A+E Networks Group President and Chairman Paul Buccieri said in a statement. "Over the last four years, we have been on a journey to expand our production capabilities in both scripted and factual, and we've established key relationships in the talent management space as well as continued creating compelling content across our brands to further meet the needs of our valued partners and viewers." ■ 

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.