New Discovery shows bare it all

Lisa De Moraes

The Washington Post

Discovery Communications presented its new programming dog-and-pony show for advertisers in New York last week, unveiling new shows that will be televised on the various networks under the umbrella of the Silver Spring, Md.,-based media company.

Some trends emerged. Trends like live programming, scripted miniseries, reality series about oil and being naked.

The mothership, Discovery Channel, which boasted it had more series averaging more than a million viewers than any other cable network last year, shared with advertisers its plans for “Wallenda Live,” featuring Nik Wallenda tightrope-walking, without a harness, across the Grand Canyon. Live programming is the next big thing at Discovery.

“Klondike” is the network’s first scripted miniseries, based on Charlotte Gray’s book: “Gold Diggers: Striking It Rich in the Klondike” about six strangers and their collective fight for survival and wealth in a small frontier town in the remote Klondike, the area in northwest Canada, east of Alaska, which was known as the site of the Yukon Gold Rush, aka the Last Great Gold Rush.

“Naked and Afraid” is Discovery’s new survival series. It’s kind of like “Survivor,” only in each episode a new pair of strangers find themselves stranded in some harsh environment for 21 days with no food, no water, no tools — and no clothes.

This is not to be confused with “Naked Castaway” — kind of like that 2000 flick “Cast Away” starring Tom Hanks, only this time it’s Ed Stafford, the first person ever to walk the length of the Amazon River.

He’ll be dumped off, alone, and has to survive for 60 days with no food, water, knives or other tools — and he’ll be naked.

Some of the survivalists lucky enough to be dumped in remote locations for our entertainment won’t be naked. Like the participants in “Catch and Release” who will each be dropped into one of the world’s harshest environments and given a maximum of 100 hours to find his or her way back to civilization — with clothing.

Even though this show is for Animal Planet, where you would think the participants would be in their natural state, and that they would be, you know, animals.

But Animal Planet is these days the Surprisingly Human network, which explains another one of its new series, “Ice Cold Gold,” about miners who are among the first Americans to prospect for precious metals and gems in parts of Greenland where humans have not set foot before.

Discovery likes oil as a programming thread. It’s got these two new series: “Backyard Oil,” about wildcat oil drilling in Kentucky; “Cutter Oil” is about a small family-run oil company competing against big corporations for black gold in Ohio.

“Investigation Discovery” has hired Jerry Springer to host the new show “Tabloid” to peel back the curtain and reveal the most bizarre tabloid stories.

“The thing I like best about television is the opportunity to tell stories … stories that cover the entire range of human experiences and emotions,” said Springer in last week’s announcement. “‘Tabloid’ gives me another chance to do just that.”

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