We Spent 7 Weird, Wonderful Minutes With ‘Curious Kind of Cat’ Jeff Goldblum

Summer’s most surprisingly ubiquitous celeb is making a National Geographic docuseries

Jeff Goldblum, who hosted three episodes of Explorer last year, is returning to National Geographic for a new docuseries. National Geographic
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Jeff Goldblum is suddenly everywhere you look. He’s onscreen in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and Thor: Ragnarok. A 25-foot statue of him is currently lounging seductively in front of London’s Tower Bridge. He’s hosting a digital cooking series for Kroger and Funny or Die called Cooking With Jeff. And earlier this year he appeared in a Super Bowl ad for Jeep Wrangler.

But summer’s most surprisingly ubiquitous celeb isn’t finished yet. Goldblum made a surprise appearance at Television Critics Association’s summer press tour in Los Angeles Wednesday to announce that he’s making a new 12-part docuseries for National Geographic. In the show, he’ll travel the world delving into the extraordinary stories behind seemingly ordinary objects like ice cream, baseball, subways, cereal and toilet paper.

The project, said Goldblum, will be called The Curiosity of Jeff Goldblum. Unless it’s not.

During his time onstage at press tour, Goldblum ditched his prepared notes—“I don’t need these. I’m going to extemporize,” he explained—in favor of a seven-minute stream of consciousness that was every bit as weird and wonderful as you would expect from the Jurassic Park actor. Some of the highlights:

On his National Geographic publicity photo, which appeared with him onstage: “Hey, is that the picture that I approved? Oh, I sent another picture. Oh, that’s okay, I like that one too.”

On the hundreds of TV reporters at press tour: “This looks like the United Nations kind of setup. Aren’t you impressive? … You’re all here for like three weeks, right? … Well, congratulations. I envy you, I wish I was part of your thing.”

On the “delicious idea sessions” for the new docuseries: “It may be a show from week to week whereby I invite you and we go together and explore, investigate things around us. Perhaps many things that seem ordinary, but upon investigation and with a little excavation and detective work, and when seen through the lens of real science and facts, we uncover that these things may not be so ordinary after all, but maybe extraordinary.”

On ice cream, a potential topic of one episode: According to National Geographic’s research team, said Goldblum, ice cream “could legitimately be characterized as a modern miracle,” is “a key to future space travel” and for humans is a stronger “primal need” than sex.

On his show’s title, The Curiosity of Jeff Goldblum: “We’re still tinkering with that title,” said Goldblum, who suggested, and quickly discarded, other options like The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Curious George. (“I like the title, but I don’t see how it relates,” he said of them.)

As for why he’s not sold on the title yet, “It’s good because one thinks, yes, I’m a curious kind of cat,” Goldblum said. “But it also could be construed as, gee, how about that Jeff Goldblum, odds bodkins? He’s a curiosity, isn’t he? People are gonna come to their own conclusion about that in the first couple minutes, I’m sure. We don’t have to nudge them along.”

On press tour’s L.A. locale: “It’s Southern California. The climate is balmy, so stay focused on the job.”

And his parting advice: “Stay curious. Stay curious! Maybe that’s my catchphrase.”

Courteney Monroe, CEO of National Geographic Global Networks, later told Adweek that she’s thrilled to land Goldblum. “He’s having a moment,” she said. “Why there is this almost cult-like response to him, I don’t know. But it’s great.”

Goldblum first worked with the network last year when he guest-hosted three episodes of the series Explorer. “He is a voracious consumer of knowledge, from the mundane to the really complex. He is interested, he is incredibly well-read, he’s a really smart, interesting, curious guy. So that’s what makes him right for us,” said Monroe.

@jasonlynch jason.lynch@adweek.com Jason Lynch is TV Editor at Adweek, overseeing trends, technology, personalities and programming across broadcast, cable and streaming video.