July 25, 2013
Discovery Previews Upcoming Series at TCA
By Kaylee Hultgren
Discovery Communications president and CEO David Zaslav told the Television Critics Association that the company’s primary focus is growing market share. It’s “hyper-focused on our international business” across 220 countries and this year will spend over $1.5 billion on content. Meanwhile, TLC presented “Secret Princes” (premieres Oct 25), a docu-series in the net’s expanding genre of romance that follows 4 wealthy princes from abroad in their search for love in the U.S.—without the riches, titles and accoutrements the royals are accustomed to. “It was really a challenging experience for some of us,” according to Prince Lorenzo de’ Medici. “Imagine being dressed as a cowboy” while looking for love, he joked. The Honorable Oliver Plunkett was not happy with his new job, either. “I had the worst job by far. I had to dress up as a tomato. It wasn’t very helpful.” So what’s so tough about finding love while being rich? He finds that “there’s a lot of intimidation.” The challenge, said Lord Robert Walter, who starred in the show’s first season and helped the second crop with their search for love in the States, is finding a woman who genuinely likes you for you. The riches are an added bonus.
Velocity’s “Patrick Dempsey: Racing Le Mans” (premieres Aug 28) follows the “Grey’s Anatomy” star as he tackles one of the greatest endurance auto races in the world in Le Mans, France. The 4-part series looks at Le Mans’ challenging fundraising process, the history of the race itself, actor/racers like Paul Newman, and plenty of never-before-seen archival footage. Dempsey sees acting as his trade, but “racing is a constant discovery,” he said. “It changes constantly… that to me is very exciting.” For an auto racer, among the many skills to master is “situational awareness,” he said. “You learn to be private in a public arena.” You’re effectively competing against yourself, rather than a competitor, he said. “You discover how much suffering you can go through… It becomes a meditation, a purity… Every race there’s an amazing journey.”
Investigation Discovery's “Surviving Evil” (Aug 28 premiere) profiles survivors of brutal attacks and includes reenactments of the crimes and interviews with the victims who fought back and survived. Watching the reenactments “was like reliving it,” said one survivor Teri Jendusa Nicolai. Though difficult to watch, she was pleased with show’s portrayal. “They took the words I told them and description I gave them and made it an image,” she told critics through tears. Host and survivor Charisma Carpenter said the suspense within the show comes from telling viewers how each victim survived. “The unraveling of the story makes it compelling and suspenseful,” she said. Lisa McVey added that the attack she experienced “made me appreciate that my life was worth living.” And they all hope that the show will exhibit the survivors’ will to live. “It shows us being strong and overcoming evil,” Jendusa Nicolai said. ID also announced that investigative news program “Deadline: Crime With Tamron Hall,” hosted by the MSNBC host and NBC correspondent, will premier Sept 1.
Science Channel’s “The Unexplained Files” (Aug 28 premiere) takes a look at unexplained occurances—from bizarre disappearances to unknown weird animal species to mass sightings—and investigates the mysteries behind each. “The filter was that each one of these stories had to have multiple witnesses, had to be credible, have journalistic integrity…” according to executive producer Josh Berkley. Using that criteria, “we weeded out quite a few stories that didn’t make it,” he said. Additionally, the network added a new angle or perspective to each case examined. “That’s important for the network,” said Science gm/evp Debbie Myers. “We show point and counterpoint,” Berkley added. “We embrace skepticism. It’s very much an investigative journey” for the stories in the series, he said. Ultimately, the show will be a success if you come out of it “questioning what you believe to be true,” he said.
OWN’s “Raising Whitley,” which follows comedienne and actress Kym Whitley and her eclectic family and friends as they raise her adopted son Joshua, is back for more episodes in early 2014. “I created a village” to raise the boy, whose mother chose Kym as his guardian soon after his birth. “I had to create my family out here,” she said. According to executive producer Craig Piligian,“It’s a lighter sort of look at raising children,” with colorful characters and “a playful set.” OWN pres Sheri Salata noted that the series is one of Oprah Winfrey’s favorite because it’s a positive image of an eclectic African American family. Whitley added that the incredible love and support her adopted son is blessed with “is actually helping other children throughout the world.” In other OWN news, the net ordered the original docu-series “It’s Prime’s Time,” (wt) featuring sports legend Deion Sanders and his family, debuting in 2014.
Critics learned something about cheetahs from Kim Wolhunter, wildlife filmmaker of Discovery Channel’s “Man, Cheetah, Wild,” premiering Oct 3: “They would rather run away from something than confront it,” he said. Lions, on the other hand, he vows never to film. They “are incredibly aggressive animals,” he said, and kill every predator. But back to cheetahs. Kim and his wife Taryn show an intimate portrayal of the animals in the series, achieved by immersing themselves within the animal’s world. “I’m trying to understand exactly what they’re going through all the time,” Kim said. “I think I’m trying to go back in time when men grew up with all these animals,” he said. “I just want to be there as natural as possible. Unfortunately, I have to wear clothes.”