Reality Blossoms On A&E, History

Cable programmer A&E Networks on Tuesday unveiled slates of documentary specials and non-fiction series for it?s A&E Network and The History Channel. Their upfront celebration was booked for later in the day in New York.

As part of a programming deal with Cosmos Studios?producer of the late Carl Sagan?s Cosmos series? A&E, the arts and leisure network, will co-produce four documentary specials, including The Lost Dinosaurs of Egypt, scheduled for the fourth quarter.

Other documentary specials, with undetermined time slots in the 2001-02 season, include Heroes of Iwo Jima, The Dark Side of Boxing, Under The Big Top, Gorillas, Married in America, and Barrymore on the Barrymores, hosted by Drew Barrymore.

Joining A&E’s schedule in the fall are two non-fiction series: Real People TV, created Michael Davies, executive producer of Who Wants to be a Millionaire, arms regular folk with a video camera and crew to pursue long-held dreams. Plans call for 10 people to be chosen from entries received through in June and for a related Webcast allowing users to participate via the Internet. Minute-by-Minute uses interviews and news footage to break down major events such as the World Trade Center bombing and the attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan.

A&E also bought 18 new episodes of its drama series 100 Centre Street, which launched last January as its first original series and was followed by the series Nero Wolfe on April 22.

New movies on A&E include the previously announced The Magnificent Ambersons, as well as The Big Heist and Shackelton, premiering in the fall, and science fiction projects The Lathe of Heaven and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle?s The Lost World.

For its part, the 6-year-old History Channel aims to showcase some ambitious non-fiction mini-series next season. Founding Brothers, based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning book by Joseph Ellis, follows up on the Founding Fathers documentary to tell how men such as John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton built a democratic government in the 1790s. The epic mini-series is Gold! examines the mineral’s ability to stir controversy throughout history. Similar to Discovery Network?s Meet the Pandas, Gold! kicks off this summer on affiliates in more than 60 countries.

History Channel documentary specials include: American Classics, which examines childhood favorites such as yo-yos, Cracker Jacks, G.I. Joe and Pez; Mr. Dreyfuss Goes to Washington, a two-hour program in which host Richard Dreyfuss delves into Washington, D.C.; and My Father?s Gun, the history of the New York Police Department as seen through the eyes of Irish-American cops at the end of the 1800s.