Upfronts 2016: Letterman’s in India, Ron Howard’s on Mars on Nat Geo

Speaking at the National Geographic Channel upfront presentation in New York Tuesday, filmmaker Ron Howard shed light on his hybrid documentary-scripted miniseries Mars. Everardo Gout will direct the scripted portions, said Howard. Mars is a six-part event series about the quest to reach the planet.

Nat Geo also shared a photo of David Letterman in India, shooting his episode for the new season of climate change docuseries Years of Living Dangerously.

The 2016-2017 slate also includes the event series Earth Live! from Bunim/Murray Productions and Berman Productions, along with new series Origins, hosted by Jason Silva, about how humankind took shape.

Limited series include the military-themed Chain of Command, Lawless Oceans with Karsten von Hoesslin, and Antarctica-based Deep Freeze.

“While many networks are seemingly out in the marketplace trying to find and distinguish their brands, our strength is that we already have one–a global brand with a legacy in science, exploration, and adventure that is synonymous with quality,” said National Geographic Global Networks CEO Courteney Monroe. “By harnessing an unparalleled portfolio of media assets through National Geographic Partners, we’re going to offer true 360 degree experiences, extending our storytelling for both viewers and advertisers across an unrivaled number of platforms.”

Returning series on Nat Geo include Explorer, StarTalk and Years of Living Dangerously.

Documentaries include Alex Gibney’s Parched, a war project from Sebastian Junger, the L.A. riot-themed LA 92 and an untitled Jane Goodall project.

Scripted series include Killing Reagan, which will premiere in the fall.

Nat Geo Wild also shared its slate, which includes new series Animal ER and Project Puppy, both reality shows, and talk show Pet Talk. Returning series are The Incredible Dr. Pol; Dr. K’s Exotic Animal ER;Dr. Oakley, Yukon Vet; Safari Brothers and Cesar Millan’s Cesar 911.

A quartet of Destination Wild Natural History specials will examine the four corners of the world, and the animals there. That includes Wild New Zealand, Wild Asia, Grizzly Empire and Man v. Octopus.

Besides Big Cat Week, Nat Geo Wild will hold a Barkfest weekend and a Sharkfest too.

“Nat Geo Wild is the only network on television 100% dedicated to animals and the people that love them,” said Monroe. “In six years on the air, we have never deviated from our mission with Wild and this year’s upfront slate further strengthens our commitment. Our six straight years of growth speaks for itself.”

Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.