National Geographic announced Wednesday at their upfront presentation that “Genius” has been renewed for a second season before Season 1 has even premiered. In addition the network unveiled plans for three new scripted series and a second season of “Mars.”
Season 1 of “Genius,” which premieres April 25, will be a 10-part series on the life and times of Albert Einstein, based on Walter Isaacson’s book “Einstein: His Life and Universe.” It stars Geoffrey Rush, Johnny Flynn, and Emily Watson. Season 2 will focus on a different iconic figure, whose identity will be revealed during the Season 1 finale.
Season 2 will again be produced by Fox 21 Television Studios, Imagine Television with executive producers Brian Grazer and Ron Howard, and OddLot Entertainment with executive producer Gigi Pritzker. Ken Biller will again executive produce and serve as showrunner.
In “Mars” Season 1, viewers followed the first human mission to Mars, set in 2033, as the crew struggled to safely land on and create an initial settlement. The second season will return to Mars years after the astronauts have established a full-fledged colony. But by this point, the International Mars Science Foundation, a multigovernment-sponsored space agency, cannot continue to solely finance the Mars expedition, so the doors of opportunity have swung wide open to the private sector.
On the development side, the network is working on the drama series “The Birth of the Pill: How Four Crusaders Reinvented Sex and Launched a Revolution.” Adapted from Jonathan Eig’s 2014 book of the same name, the series follows feminist icon Margaret Sanger and philanthropist Katherine McCormick, who campaigned for women’s rights and championed birth control, enlisting the help of visionary scientist Gregory Pincus and Catholic OB/GYN John Rock. The series hails from Sonar Entertainment with producer and director R.J. Cutler and executive producers Denise DiNovi and Alison Greenspan.
“The Hot Zone,” based on the eponymous international bestseller by Richard Preston, recounts the true story of the origins of the Ebola virus, from the central African rain forest to its first arrival on U.S. soil. In 1989, when the virus suddenly appears in chimpanzees in a scientific lab in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., there is no known cure. A U.S. Army veterinarian, working with a secret military SWAT team, puts herself in mortal peril when she tries to head off the outbreak before it spreads to the human population. The series comes from Lynda Obst Productions, Fox 21 Television Studios, Scott Free Productions, and executive producers Kelly Souders, Brian Peterson, and Jeff Vintar.
Finally, the network is developing a scripted series based on itself. From Marti Noxon’s Tiny Pyro Productions and writer Erik Jendresen, the series travels back to the 1960s when a National Geographic field producer is put in charge of two production teams shooting Nat Geo’s first TV documentaries in Siberia and Australia. Both teams must brave espionage, scandal and hostile environments in an attempt to bring Nat Geo’s global storytelling to the new media age. Skydance Television will also produce.