Planet Green sprouts documentaries

Network to launch two-hour doc block in fall

Planet Green is launching an ambitious weekly two-hour block of documentaries beginning in the fall.

The Discovery offshoot that specializes in environmentally friendly programming is labeling the lineup “Reel Impact,” and several of the films airing on the cabler will be making their world TV premieres.

Titles were announced by president and g.m. Laura Michalchyshyn, who arrived at Planet Green three months ago after a lengthy stint at Sundance Channel, where she also oversaw environmentally themed shows.

“When I arrived in March, we asked, ‘What are the strands of the expansion of Planet Green?’ ” Michalchyshyn told Daily Variety. “We’re broadening the discussion and finding mavericks who are making change.”

Among the pics the network has acquired is “The Last Beekeeper,” from producers Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato, about three commercial beekeepers and the struggles they face in a world of shrinking bee populations.

“Beekeeper” will preem on Planet Green on Sept. 12.

Other docs set to air include “A Sea Change,” director Barbara Ettinger’s look at an Earth that may see its fish population decimated; “Black Wave: The Legacy of Exxon Valdez,” about the impact of the tanker’s 1989 oil spill; “The 11th Hour,” narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio, concerning the planet’s destructive course; “Who Killed the Electric Car”; the Oscar-winning “An Inconvenient Truth,” which discussed the dangers of global warming; and Werner Herzog’s “Grizzly Man,” in which he investigates the life and death of bear enthusiast Timothy Treadwell.

Michalchyshyn’s most recent pickup is “No Impact Man: The Documentary,” the story of author Colin Beavan’s goal to live with as little environmental impact as possible. Pic will have a theatrical run in September and won’t air on the net until 2010.

Michalchyshyn wouldn’t elaborate on what Planet Green paid for any of the pics, but she called it “competitive pricing in the television landscape.”

She also said that the net was open to television docs as well as features — possibly coming from Channel 4 or the BBC in the U.K. — and there are already five to 10 other pics on her radar that may land at Planet Green in the next three months.

Michalchyshyn added that these pickups mark the beginning of an acquisition strategy for the net, rather than one of production. She and her staff will be combing through several documentary film festivals looking for material, including Silverdocs, currently taking place in suburban Washington, D.C.