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National Geographic Channel to Probe Tyler’s Throat

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Beverly Hills, Calif. -- National Geographic Channel specials will plumb new topics, from HD close-ups of Aerosmith front man Steven Tyler's vocal cords to initiation rituals of the tribes of Papua New Guinea, in specials scheduled during the next 12 months.

Tyler's throat surgery, necessary after years of shrieking on stage, is part of Incredible Human Machine, an inside look at the mechanical processes of the human body.

Network executives told members of the Television Critics Association here that the special includes several never-before-seen shots within the body, such as a human egg being expelled from an ovary. But it was the singer's vocal cords that seemed to most intrigue writers, who peppered the performer's laryngeal surgeon with questions about the images of Tyler's throat in the Oct. 21 special.

Another special, Inside the Living Body, scheduled Sept. 16, also promises notable images, such as brain surgery on a conscious patient.

But it was the second special, Taboo, which got critics squirming and asking executives whether the channel is going after the Spike TV audience by programming shows "full of noise and violence." The channel's acting general manager, Steve Schiffman (http://www.multichannel.com/article/CA6427691.html), said the show is only showing rites of passage that are acceptable in the societies depicted. Such rites, according to the clip, include images of Amazon tribal youth gloved with cages filled with fire ants, groups of Westerners who suspend themselves by their flesh and scarification, among other topics.

Other upcoming specials include China mummies (Sept. 26), dinosaur autopsies (December), dinosaur death traps (also December), the lost tribes of Palau (fourth quarter) and Stonehenge (2008).