Time Life Television is making its entry into network television with “Time Life’s Lost Civilizations,” a 10-hour series of documentary specials designed to air on NBC during the 1995-96 season.
NBC will have rights to two airings of the massive $ 12-million production and, in an interesting deal point, will share in video distribution of the series — the first sale to a broadcast network by Time Life TV, which recently changed its name from Time Life Video to signal its expanded efforts as a broadcast supplier.
For the Alexandria, Va.-based Time Warner unit, which has produced such video series as “The Trials of Life” and had a role in Ken Burns’ PBS series “The Civil War,” the deal continues an 18-month-long push to establish credentials beyond video and moving into broadcasting, with 40 hours of additional TV projects in development.
In addition to “Lost Civilizations,” which Time Life president Candice Carpenter described as the company’s calling-card in network TV, NBC and Time Life are discussing “an ongoing relationship” for this kind of programming. A follow-up series, tentatively titled “Millenium: The History of Man,” is being considered to follow “Civilizations.”
Backed by the resources of Time Life’s publishing operations, Carpenter feels the unit has a leg up on other suppliers of reality programming. More than 130 researchers and editors work at Time Life’s East Coast offices, and the “Lost Civilizations” project — exploring such topics as the Aztecs and Kingdoms of the Nile, to be shot around the world — has already had 50 researchers working on it for the past year.
Time Life TV also has the luxury of interacting with other Time Warner divisions, such as HBO, Warner Bros.’ international and domestic syndication wings or West Coast reality production unit Telepictures Prods.
Jason Williams will supervise production of “Lost Civilizations” under Time Life senior VP-exec producer Joel Westbrook, who joined the company last October after overseeing dox at TBS Prods.