Jul 7, 2003  •  Post A Comment

A documentary from “Hoop Dreams”’ Peter Gilbert is among 10 original documentaries in the works at the 4-month-old Discovery Times Channel.
The programming roster is the result of Discovery Communications’ collaboration with its content partner and co-owner, The New York Times.
“These programs look at the stories behind the stories, with a heavy emphasis on stories from overseas,” said Vivian Schiller, the DTC’s general manager and senior VP.
The shows include an examination of postwar Iraq, a rare glimpse inside North Korea and a look at the California education-funding crisis.
Ms. Schiller, a former senior VP for CNN Productions, said the programs represent the channel’s efforts to “capture the spirit of the Times and to rise to its journalistic integrity” while still providing compelling network programming.
“Though we’re not in competition with the news networks, I like to think we’re good at picking up where they left off,” Ms. Schiller told TelevisionWeek.
The recently relaunched cable network will present its new summer and fall programming slate at the cable portion of the Television Critics Association press tour July 9.
The channel was formerly Discovery Civilizations and aired reruns of Discovery Channel programming. Then The Times Co. paid Discovery Communications $100 million for a joint ownership of the brand and the network relaunched March 25. The channel is now available in about 30 million homes.
One of the new programs is a new film by “Hoop Dreams” filmmaker Peter Gilbert. Tentatively called “A Southern Town,” the documentary looks at untold stories from the Civil Rights Movement era in Mississippi. It’s slated to debut in October.
“When films are issue-oriented and have a point of view but are not news, they can be very tough to get going,” Mr. Gilbert told TelevisionWeek. “So DTC is a fun place to be right now. They’re doing a lot of interesting programming.”
Some upcoming titles follow:
* “Yugoslavia: Fall of Milosevic,” a four-hour documentary on the behind-the-scenes maneuvering of world leaders to remove Slobodan Milosevic from power and bring him to trial for war crimes, is set to air July 22. Brook Lapping produced.
* “After Saddam,” a ground-level view of efforts to restore order in postwar Iraq from Jonathan Towers Productions, airs July 27.
* “Children of the Secret State” is a rare look inside North Korea using hidden-camera footage. The program, a Channel 4 acquisition with HardCash Reversion, shows a country secluded from the rest of the world and suffering devastating poverty. It airs Aug. 19.
* “Crisis in California,” from Winton DuPont Films, shows the impact of the state’s budget crisis on its education system. It airs Sept. 9.