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Upfront: Nat Geo Preps a Baker's Dozen

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National Geographic Channel is striding into the 2011-12 upfront season with a brainy, brawny slate of 13 new series and a recent surge of ratings momentum, all of which should give the network a leg up when it’s time to write business.
 
Having shuttled the bulk of its animal-themed programming to upstart sibling Nat Geo Wild, NGC’s development slate has taken on a much more scientific bent. Among the new originals in the pipeline are The Indestructibles, a first-person narrative that applies the laws of physics to help explain how each subject escaped certain death, and Rocket Men, an engaging look at a coterie of self-proclaimed “redneck rocket scientists” who rely on their aerospace training and backwoods ingenuity to solve knotty scholarly problems.
 
Also in the hopper, in what NGC characterizes as its “Adrenaline” pillar, are the investigation series Drugs, Inc., which traces the serpentine dealings of the legit pharmaceuticals market as well as the narco trade, and the somewhat redundantly titled American Knights in the U.S., a look at a former Navy SEAL who is trying to introduce the medieval hastilude to a stateside audience.
 
All told, NGC this season will roll out 23 original shows, including 10 returning strips. One familiar face that will not be seen on NGC is Cesar Millan. Now in it seventh season, The Dog Whisperer will migrate over to Nat Geo Wild in early 2012.
 
Millan’s show will be refurbished to jibe with its new eco system. According to Geoff Daniels, senior vp, development and production, Nat Geo Wild, the new-look Dog Whisperer will feature themed episodes like “Tiny Terrors,” which profiles some NFL linemen and the little yappy Chihuahuas who lord it over them as alpha dogs.
 
“We’re looking to broaden the appeal of the show,” Daniels said. “While Cesar will garner a lot of attention for the network, we also wanted to make sure to re-energize The Dog Whisperer with some celebrity appearances and themes that resonate beyond the core dog-training aspect.”

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