Rich Ross is having his first upfront as chief of Discovery Channel since taking over and promising No Fake Stuff and a broadening of programming types to return Discovery Channel to the No. 1 brand for the whole family – not just for men.
To that end, Discovery’s next scripted series will be about the history of Harley Davidson.
Also, Ross introduced Elevation Weekend, with mountain climbing series and documentaries featuring film Valley Uprising; detailed a push on natural history programs, including documentary film Racing Extinction; announced a Naked and Afraid spinoff, etc.
Here’s Discovery’s Upfront announcement this morning:
NATURAL HISTORY SPECIALS
RACING EXTINCTION – In this documentary film, Louie Psihoyos and the group behind the Academy Award®-winning film The Cove, assembles a team of artists and activists on a new undercover operation to expose the hidden world of endangered species and the race to protect them against mass extinction. Spanning the globe to infiltrate the world’s most dangerous black markets and using high tech tactics to document the link between carbon emissions and species extinction, the documentary reveals stunning, never-before seen images that truly change the way we see the world. RACING EXTINCTION will be the catalyst for a larger, ongoing campaign that unites people to work collectively toward reduction of carbon emissions and the prevention of species extinction. Paul G. Allen’s Vulcan Productions is on board to develop and execute this ongoing impact campaign, educational initiative and metrics surrounding impact. (Oceanic Preservation Society/Vulcan Productions)
SHARK WEEK is television’s longest running summer programming event and everyone’s favorite summertime ritual, and this year it premieres earlier than ever before on July 5. Discovery Channel is working with nearly two dozen of the world’s most respected marine biologists and science institutions as this audience pleaser continues to reveal remarkable new insights into these magnificent and elusive creatures. SHARK WEEK 2015 will go to new depths to deliver new scientific findings using significant advancements in technology to track shark behaviors. Discovery will track and film great white sharks into the deep for the first time to depths of up to 2000 feet; use a “sonar camera” (Coda Octopus Echoscope) to film sharks, marking the first time a marine creature will ever be filmed in sonar; and include the first satellite tags permitted and deployed on sharks in Cuba. Additionally, Discovery Channel will continue to draw attention to the threats currently facing sharks around the world through in-depth, multi-platform content produced in conjunction with conservation partnerships.
ELEVATION WEEKEND – Elevation Weekend embarks this year to take viewers on an annual adventure to rarely seen, striking destinations that follow men and women on their journey to conquer the elements. A weekend of epic and groundbreaking documentaries, Elevation Weekend documents new conflicts and obstacles as well as reflects on the history of heroic expeditions and how they inform modern explorations. Elevation Weekend 2015 begins with the premiere of the award-winning film VALLEY UPRISING which explores the stories of those who pushed the limits of what’s possible at Yosemite Valley, CA, going beyond the risk and commitment over the span of 50 years as rock climbing evolved from a group of self-reliant, bold mountain men who took months and years to scale the peaks of Half Dome and El Capitan into the sports of aid climbing, free climbing, speed climbing and freebase climbing, where both legendary peaks could be scaled in a single day, leading to today’s extreme sports that include BASE jumping. (Sender Films in partnership with Big Up Productions)
MOTOR MONDAYS is guaranteed appointment viewing for all-motor action and fun each Monday night for 52 weeks a year. Motor Mondays features all new series as well as returning favorites, including FAST N’ LOUD with motor mastermind Richard Rawlings and mechanical prodigy Aaron Kaufman. This dynamic duo makes an unbeatable team as they travel the country from the back roads of Texas to surrounding states and beyond, scouring barns, backyards, swap meets and open fields in search of these rare rides. Once Richard wheels and deals for a good price, the real work begins back at the garage, where Aaron and the guys race against the clock to finish the job in time.
HARLEY-DAVIDSON – A Harley Davidson is more than a motorcycle. It is a brand that has shaped the cultural landscape and defined our national character. Based on a true story, the series HARLEY- DAVIDSON will tell how Milwaukee schoolyard pals William S. Harley and Arthur Davidson built – and rode – the machines that rule the road. Beginning at the turn of the 20th century, at the shores of Lake Michigan, this mini-series charts the birth of Harley-Davidson during a time of great social and technological change. Full of spectacular crashes, family feuds, inspired engineering and strokes of genius, this epic story of how two 19-year-old kids from Milwaukee started a company in their backyard that would go on to become an American legend. (Raw Television)
NEW UNSCRIPTED SERIES/SPECIALS
NAKED AND AFRAID XL – What do you get when you multiply Discovery Channel’s monster survival hit Naked and Afraid by six? A survival challenge unlike any other survival challenge attempted before. NAKED AND AFRAID XL will premiere this summer on Discovery Channel with 12 of the smartest, most dynamic survivalists who have previously appeared on Naked and Afraid. These six men and six women, all extreme survivalists with their own expertise, will find themselves in an almost un-survivable situation, stranded in a very remote area with no food, no water, and no clothing, and at first, they won’t even have each other. Some may find a partner within minutes or hours. Some may not meet up with anyone at all. At its core, NAKED AND AFRAID XL is a societal challenge. How will these survivalists respond to each other if and when they meet up? Will they live together as one large group or will they break into smaller pockets of people? Will some want to survive solo for the full challenge? (Renegade 83)
TREASURE QUEST – In 1524, a horde of Incan gold – known as the “Treasure of the Trinity” – was stolen. For 500 years, Jesuits priests, privateers such as Thomas Cavendish and mathematician Paul Thiry have all searched for this legendary bounty but it has remained elusive. But now a new theory has emerged about the treasure’s possible location – a remote location home to 1,000’s of deadly vipers. The series will feature a team of the world’s top explorers who set out on a two-month journey to find this priceless treasure. Along the way, they’ll need to solve complex mathematical clues and puzzles protecting the treasure – the same ones that have thwarted countless others before them. But most of all, they’ll need nerves of steel as they brave one of the most deadly places in the world – where one careless step could not just cost everyone incredible riches, but ultimately their lives. (MAK Pictures)
PACIFIC WARRIORS – This new series follows the only commercial fishermen in the world who fish from a kayak…alone. With only a paddle, these brave Hawaiian men and women venture out to catch some of the most desirable fish in the sea. They must rely on brute strength to pull in 500 pound Marlin, Tuna, Mahi Mahi and Ono. However, the battles on the sea aren’t just with the fish. Turf wars and classic rivalries among families run deep among this tiny community of kayak fishers, with the natives coming into conflict with the newcomers – not unlike a modern/Hawaiian West Side Story. They put everything on the line – with families battling it out on their turf. But the slightest mistake could cost them their lives. Fishing is their livelihood, and nothing will stop them from feeding their families. (Original Media)
LUNAR XPRIZE – It’s been 46 years since millions of television viewers witnessed man first set foot on the Moon in 1969. In 2016, history will be made again when Discovery Channel partners with XPRIZE on the $30 million Google Lunar XPRIZE to bring an edge-of-your-seat international space competition to homes around the world. In this special, space exploration will reach new heights as teams from all over the world set off on a race of stellar proportions to launch and land a robot on the Moon. LUNAR XPRIZE will go behind-the-scenes of a competition nearly a decade in the making as viewers witness the enormous engineering challenges undertaken by the teams and the extraordinary history of Moon exploration as the robots beam back footage from the journey that includes a 500 meter dash across the lunar surface. Discovery Channel will take audiences to new frontiers and inspire a new generation of space exploration. (Arrow Media)
KILLING FIELDS – An all new series that uses the most up to date science advancements and technologies to reveal the deep history attached to isolated and idyllic outside areas in America that are killing fields; locations where crimes have occurred and have gone undetected due to their geography and outside elements that have erased the scene of the crime. Investigations are followed in real time through the course of each episode as unmarked graves are uncovered as attempts are made to find the truth and bring resolution to what lurks just below the surface. (Sirens Media)
CUBAN CHROME – After the 1959 Cuban Revolution and the subsequent United States embargo, it has been illegal to import American cars to the island nation – as a result, Cuba’s vintage American vehicles are frozen in time, and each of these cars has a unique story to tell. For Cubans, these cars are not just a means of transportation, but a way of life. CUBAN CHROME will give viewers an intimate look into this rarely seen country as they meet the men who put everything on the line to keep these classic cars running. Through A Lo Cubano Car Club – a passionate group of car enthusiasts, restorers, mechanics and apprentices – the series explores the challenges and joys of life in Cuba, presenting an authentic look into their culture of passion, grit, determination and ingenuity. (Pilgrim Studios)
DEADLIEST CATCH – Massive storms, a super typhoon and new regulations will change all the rules. With great risks come even greater opportunities – and for those willing to put it all on the line, it means an even bigger payoff. From Original Productions, the 13-time Emmy Award- winning series DEADLIEST CATCH kicks off its 11th season this year. The fearless captains of the Bering Sea are back and must lean on their brethren to survive. But just how far will they push their crabbing brotherhood to the edge? After years of keeping a lid on Bairdi crab quota, new government regulations have increased the inventory by 400 percent. These changes mean the potential for huge paydays. But it’s first come, first serve on the Bairdi grounds, forcing everyone to risk it all. As the struggle for Bering Sea crab continues, only one thing is for certain: this season will push them closer to the brink. (Original Productions)
ALASKAN BUSH PEOPLE – Deep in the Alaskan wilderness lives a newly discovered family who was born and raised wild, featuring Billy Brown, his wife Ami and their seven grown children – five boys and two girls – are so far removed from civilization that they often go six to nine months of the year without seeing an outsider. They’ve developed their own accent and dialect and refer to themselves as a “wolf pack.” Simply put, they are unlike any other family in America. (Park Slope Productions)
GOLD RUSH – Friday night’s number one show for men is coming back for its sixth season. Next season will be all about the gold…and family. The entire Hoffman family – Todd Hoffman, his son Hunter, his wife Shauna, Jack Hoffman and his wife Georgia – will return to the Klondike to get McKinnon Creek up and running only to soon head out on a mining adventure that dates back to the original Gold Rush of 1898. Parker Schnabel earned $3 million in gold last season but as he turns 21 he’s decided to get back to basics, to treat his crew with more dignity and above all, to have more fun. Without his trusty foreman, Gene Cheeseman, Parker and his faithful friend, Rick Ness, will finally have the freedom to run the mine their way. And as usual, Parker will surround himself with his much loved family – including his beloved grandpa and his Mom, Nancy. The Beets are considered the first mining family in the Klondike. This season Tony Beet and his daughter Monica, son Kevin and the brains of the operation, his wife Minnie, will finally put their 75-year-old, $1 million dollar dredge to work. And as always, The Viking may have a few gold mining tricks up his massive sleeve. (Raw Television)
BERING SEA GOLD – The summer dredging season has officially kicked off in Nome, Alaska – ground zero of the great American gold rush. With warmer weather, brings jam-packed claims, unexpected storms and rising tempers where gold fever is a family affair. Despite incredible obstacles with serious competition and a short Alaskan summer, the miners battle treacherous conditions and each other in hopes of finding gold. But how much can they push their crews before the season ends? (Original Productions)
DUAL SURVIVAL – Two trained and expert survivalists enter the most forbidding terrains in the world where they must overcome all obstacles in order to survive using intuitive tactics and finely tuned skills. Finding food, water and shelter are nothing compared to their toughest challenge of all: getting along with one another. (Original Media)
MYTHBUSTERS – Quirky special effects experts Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage continue their mad scientific quest to discover the truth behind popular myths and urban legends. This mentally tantalizing series takes on the myths and uses modern-day science to show what’s real and what’s fiction. (Beyond Productions)
NAKED AND AFRAID – In Discovery’s survival series, a new pair of strangers each episode will find themselves stranded in some of the world’s harshest environments with no food, no water, no tools…and no clothes. As their extreme survival skills are put to the test for 21 days, each couple must battle the elements, each other and their own inner weakness to triumph over the terrain and their predicament. (Renegade 83)
ALASKA: THE LAST FRONTIER – This series follows the Kilcher family and their unique homesteader community outside Homer, Alaska. The Kilchers, led by patriarchs Atz and his brother Otto, have cultivated and lived on their homestead for four generations. These men, and their wives and children, live off the land, racing the clock during the limited months of summer and fall to hunt, fish, gather and grow enough food to last the harsh Alaskan winter. They proudly choose this rugged lifestyle in hopes that future generations carry on the family tradition of living off the land. (Discovery Studios)
FAST N’ LOUD – Motor mastermind Richard Rawlings and mechanical prodigy Aaron Kaufman are back on Discovery Channel, searching for forgotten and neglected vintage cars. Most assume these old classics are rust buckets – but to this crew, they’re potential goldmines. Richard and Aaron need big projects and, more importantly, big profits to keep the doors open at Gas Monkey Garage in Dallas, Texas. (Pilgrim Studios)