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Nat Geo Orders Adaptation of Tom Wolfe’s ‘The Right Stuff’ to Series

National Geographic, in partnership with Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way and Warner Horizon Scripted Television, has greenlit to series an adaptation of Tom Wolfe’s 1979 book “The Right Stuff,” which recounts the early days of the U.S. space program and its astronauts.

Using Wolfe’s book as a jumping-off point, the first season begins in 1958, the height of the Cold War, with the Soviets leading the space race and the U.S. launching NASA’s Project Mercury. The best-selling book was previously adapted into a feature film in 1983.

The show is described as taking “a clear-eyed, non-nostalgic look at the lives of these ambitious astronauts and their families, who became instant celebrities in a competition that would either kill them or make them immortal.” Following seasons will follow the Apollo Space Program, the moon landing, and other missions.

“The behind-the-scenes stories of the astronauts in Tom Wolfe’s bestseller The Right Stuff are engaging, provocative and timeless,” said Carolyn Bernstein, National Geographic’s executive vice president of global scripted content and documentary films, in a statement. “The book’s narrative aligns perfectly with the qualities that we look for in scripted projects: fact-based, wildly entertaining and pushing the limits of human achievement.”

DiCaprio and Jennifer Davisson will executive produce. Mark Lafferty will serve as executive producer and showrunner. David Nutter will direct and executive produce the premiere episode. Will Staples has also been tapped to executive produce.

Production is slated to begin this fall.

National Geographic and Appian Way have previously partnered on climate change documentary “Before the Flood.”

Separately, Nat Geo announced at the Television Critics Assn. press tour on Sunday that it would be the new network home of “Running Wild with Bear Grylls.”

“I’m so proud to have joined the National Geographic family, whose brand is synonymous with adventure,” said Grylls in a statement. “Sharing an epic wilderness journey with these world-renowned celebrities and getting to know the human side of them along the way is the magic of this show. Ultimately, we aim to inspire people to break free from their comfort zones and embrace the adventurous spirit that we all possess.”

The new season is in production and will premiere in December.

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