National Geographic Channel is hitting the gas on scripted development, setting series projects with Scott Rudin and “The Americans” writer-director Josh Brand.
The cabler also is has a documentary series in the works on the war in Syria and Iraq with journalist Sebastian Junger and producer Nick Quested.
The Rudin series is based on the Annie Proulx novel “Barkskins,” about the travels of a pair of poor Frenchmen across North America, China and New Zealand in the 17th century. Rudin is shepherding the development through the three-year pact he struck with Fox, FX and Nat Geo last year.
Brand has been tapped to write the script for “Blood Ivory,” which is eyed as Nat Geo’s first scripted series. The project revolves around the global network of trading in contraband animals and ivory, where profits can be diverted to terrorist groups. DNA Films & TV and FX Prods. are producing for Nat Geo.
“National Geographic has strived to bring the horrors of the ivory trade to the forefront of the global conversation in recent years,” said Courteney Monroe, CEO of National Geographic Global Networks. “With ‘Blood Ivory,’ we are hoping to craft a smart, relevant and riveting drama series that will not only be entertaining under the guidance of some of the best storytellers working today, but also drive home the importance of ending a senseless war on the animal kingdom.”
The increased focus on scripted series at Nat Geo was signaled last month by the appointment of veteran TV exec Carolyn Bernstein as L.A.-based of scripted development.
Junger and Quested are working on a docu that promises to immerse viewers in the war in Syria and Iraq. The untitled film, produced by Quested’s Goldcrest Films, is expected to air later this year. Nat Geo previously aired Junger’s Oscar-nominated doc “Restrepo.”