National Geographic plans ‘Combat Rescue’ series

Reality skein follows 'Seal Team Six' success

After “Seal Team Six” proved a ratings success for National Geographic Channel, the cabler is going back to a war zone with the new series “Inside Combat Rescue.”

For the first time, the U.S. Air Force has allowed cameras to follow Air Force rescue teams including Pararescuemen, or “PJs.” Combat Rescue officers and Pave Hawk helicopter pilots as they fly into battle. Reality skein is based in Afghanistan over a fourth-month deployment.

“Having a camera layout for ‘Inside Combat Rescue’ that was not obtrusive and allowed these PJs to do their work and save lives was crucial,” Howard T. Owens, prexy of Nat Geo Channels, told Variety. “We gained unrivalled access to 130 missions where 108 lives were saved.”

Nat Geo has brought viewers similar unscripted shows including the documentary “Restrepo” and series “Inside the Green Berets.”

“National Geographic Channels tend to get unprecedented access because of our pedigree and history,” Owens said. “We are in receipt of a lot of goodwill from government organizations and people who otherwise wouldn’t give people, nets or producers this kind of trust. It gives us an opportunity to explore something like the combat rescue missions.”

Owens also noted that the son of Maryanne Culpepper, former Nat Geo TV topper, was a PJ.

“Maryanne helped with the underlying sensitivities,” Owens said.

“Inside Combat Rescue” premieres in February and is produced by National Geographic TV for Nat Geo Channel. Ted Duvall, Jerry Decker and Richard Wells are exec producers.

Nat Geo also announced Thursday that it will partner with Ridley Scott’s Scott Free Prods. to produce a scripted telepic based on Fox News host Bill O’Reilly’s best-selling book “Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot.”

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