Discovery net confirms docuseries acquisition
Sarah Palin is headed to TLC.Discovery Communications said Thursday it has acquired global rights to the eight-hour “Sarah Palin’s Alaska,” which is exec produced by Mark Burnett. Documentary series will premiere on TLC at an undisclosed date. “Our family enjoys Discovery’s networks,” said the former Alaska governor and former Republican candidate for Vice President. “I look forward to working with Mark to bring the wonder and majesty of Alaska to all Americans,” Palin added. Docu series is an unusual fit for TLC, which has moved away from such programming and now focuses on lifestyle series. But Discovery itself makes sense — as the company is behind programming such as the Alaska-set “Deadliest Catch.” Discovery picked up the rights to the series after A&E Networks, the other network with a major interest in the project, backed out. According to insiders, once the cost of the series shot up, A&E opted not to submit a final bid. Discovery didn’t disclose a pricetag, but it’s believed that “Sarah Palin’s Alaska” will cost more than $1 million an episode. That’s far above the $200,000 to $400,000 a seg Discovery usually pays for docuseries. “Discovery Communications is so excited to help Sarah Palin tell the story of Alaska, and to have a great documentary filmmaker in Mark Burnett helping to reveal Alaska’s powerful beauty as it has never been filmed, and as told by one of the state’s proudest daughters,” said Peter Liguori, Discovery Communications’ chief operating officer. It’s a homecoming of sorts for Burnett, who first made a name for himself producing Discovery Channel’s “Eco-Challenge” from 1996 to 1999. “With a dynamic personality that has captivated millions, I can’t think of anyone more compelling than Sarah Palin to tell the story of Alaska,” said Burnett. A docuseries focusing on Palin’s extended family might have made more sense for TLC, home to hits including “Cake Boss,” “Little People, Big World” and formerly “Jon & Kate Plus Eight.” Discovery execs must have decided that Palin’s popularity among some women would still make more sense on the network. “TLC is grounded in great storytelling, strong characters and passionate audiences drawn to extraordinary people doing extraordinary things. We are confident ‘Sarah Palin’s Alaska’ will be another compelling television event,” said TLC prexy and general manager Eileen O’Neill.
For all variety's headlines, follow us @variety on twitter