Discovery sets docu premiere

'American Underworld' bows Sept. 19

Discovery’s investigative show “American Underworld,” hosted and mostly photographed by Newsweek and New York Times photojournalist Mark Allen Johnson premieres Monday, Sept. 19, at 10 p.m. Hourlong is exec produced by Lisa Andreae for her shingle the Incubator, with Cameo Wallace producing for Discovery.

The cabler has set an initial run of three “Underworld” segs. The first features Johnson’s in-person interviews with meth cooks in rural Tennessee and homemade steroid producer-suppliers. The second focuses on car theft in Northern California, while the third examines the sex trade in Chicago.

Johnson said that he is glad to have finally found a network willing to supply the legal framework necessary to support the project; other nets balked at the thorny issues raised by Johnson’s contacts.

The series, Johnson said, takes time to produce, and sometimes promising projects don’t always pan out, alluding to a potential story about “these guys who were selling fully automatic rifles with laser sights, everything, on the streets of Manhattan. And we were going to do (an episode about them), but the lawyers said no, because my contact said, ‘You’ve got to be up here Tuesday.’ And then I had prior knowledge.”