NGC, Discovery Readying Docs

Sep 12, 2005  •  Post A Comment

It may be premature for a fictional take on the Hurricane Katrina disaster, but nonfiction documentaries that expand on traditional news coverage are another story.

National Geographic Channel and Discovery Channel are quickly putting into production Katrina-related specials.

NGC, in particular, has two new projects in development, including a two-hour special to run in November, tentatively titled “Inside Hurricane Katrina.”

“It will not only be the story of the storm itself, but the warnings beforehand,” said John Ford, executive VP of programming. “We’re trying to gain some insight and understanding of what happened. There’s an informal rule among those of us in documentaries that about eight or nine days after an event occurs, people want to go behind the news coverage and take a more in-depth look at what happened. We’re trying to inform and shed light on the events, which is different than dramatizing.”

The special’s production company has not yet been named as negotiations are still being finalized.

NGC, which is co-owned by Fox Cable Networks and National Geographic Television & Film, will also put into production a Hurricane Katrina episode of “National Geographic Explorer” to run in January that will delve into the science of the storm-the protection devices that were in place, and how the prevention of flooding over the past few decades made a disaster more likely.

The network also plans to rework a show, “Mega Structures: North Sea Wall,” on a levee built by the Dutch to keep out the North Sea.

“The Dutch had a disastrous storm in 1953. As a result of that they went on a 25-year building project to basically storm-proof themselves,” Mr. Ford said. “We’re revising and rewriting it in the wake of Katrina.”

NGC competitor Discovery Channel is likewise readying several projects, though details are not yet available. Last week Discovery Channel presented the first cable documentary special on the disaster, “Killer Hurricane: Anatomy of Katrina.”

“Whether it was the Yugoslavia film we did or the tsunami program we did, and now with Katrina, Discovery has been very consistent in getting out shortly after these situations occur to provide context to viewers about why and how they happened,” said Elizabeth Hillman, VP of communications for Discovery.