Discovery, Science Foray Into Fiction

NEW YORK — Nonfiction experts Discovery Channel and Science will venture into the scripted series arena in 2013.

That news came amid upfront presentations from seven Discovery Communications networks last Thursday (April 7), enlivened by appearances from Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry, William Hurt, Morgan Freeman, LaToya Jackson and Alana “Honey Boo Boo” Thompson.

Discovery Channel’s first scripted mini series, Klondike, is based on Charlotte Gray’s book Gold Diggers: Striking It Rich in the Klondike, about six strangers battling for survival and wealth in a small, frontier town. Meanwhile, specials on tap include Wallenda Live, featuring high-wire ace Nik Wallenda walking over the Grand Canyon on a tightrope without a harness; and Fast ’N Live, in which teams of car restorers compete to make the junkiest cars into classic rides.

Science’s first scripted movie is 73 Seconds: The Challenger Investigation, starring William Hurt as physicist Richard Feynman, probing the causes of the space shuttle Challenger disaster. Hurt also narrates a companion documentary, The Genius of Richard Feynman.

OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network’s onehour ensemble drama, The Haves and the Have Nots, is set to premiere May 28, while Tyler Perry’s sitcom Love Thy Neighbor will premiere May 29. Perry also will be profiled May 26 in a special episode of Oprah’s Next Chapter and in another special, Tyler Perry Comes to OWN: Behind the Scenes.

TLC’s nine new projects for 2013-14 include Family S.O.S. With Jo Frost, in which the “Supernanny” helps fix fractured families; The Good Buy Girls, about two former pageant girls running a struggling shopping network; Alaskan Women Looking for Love (working title); Cajun Paranormal (working title), set in Louisiana; and My Teen Is Pregnant and So Am I, spun off from a special about mothers and their teenage daughters both expecting a baby.

Investigation Discovery tapped Today host Tamron Hall to host Deadline: Crime With Tamron Hall and signed actress Charisma Carpenter (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) to host Surviving Evil, about women who fought back and survived attacks. ID also greenlit Tabloid, in which Jerry Springer explores stories from supermarket tabloids.

Animal Planet’s new reality series include Alaska Bush Family; Catch & Release, in which survivalists are placed in a remote location and given 100 hours to get back to civilization; Clipped, about an imaginative dog groomer; and Polar Bear Crossing, about a small Canadian town where residents lives side by side with polar bears.

Military Channel greenlighted Against the Odds, with stories of heroism among soldiers whom have found themselves in life or death situations.

And Destination America’s new series include King of Thrones, showcasing pimped-out bathrooms; and Last Call Food Brawl, a competition series hosted by chef Adam Gertler.

Broadcasting & Cable programming editor Andrea Morabito contributed to this report.


Nonfiction kingpin Discovery is going big with scripted series in 2013.

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.