The History Channel has greenlit a range of new docuseries and documentaries that are produced by Hollywood stars like Morgan Freeman, Bradley Cooper, and Kevin Costner.
The announcements were made as part of a larger A+E Networks slate reveal ahead of its 2023-2024 upfronts presentation. Additional projects hail from producers Michael Imperioli and Dan Aykroyd.
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“Our goal within this media evolution is to meet audiences wherever and however they consume content, by working with great worldwide storytellers to develop and execute their vision,” said Paul Buccieri, president and Chairman of A+E Networks Group. “Over the last four years, we have been on a journey to expand our production capabilities in both scripted and factual, and we’ve established key relationships in the talent management space as well as continued creating compelling content across our brands to further meet the needs of our valued partners and viewers.”
Costner will host and executive produce an eight episode docuseries currently titled “Kevin Costner’s The West.” The series is said to detail how the Wild West period of American history continues to impact the country today.
The series is produced for by RadicalMedia in association with Territory Pictures, Pastimes Productions and Six West MediaTM group. Costner, Rod Lake and Howard Kaplan serve as executive producers for Territory Pictures. Jon Kamen and Dave Sirulnick serve as executive producers for RadicalMedia. Doris Kearns Goodwin and Beth Laski serve as executive producers for Pastimes Productions.
Cooper will executive produce the miniseries “FDR,” which will debut in May 29. The official description states the series “charts Roosevelt’s formative years, his marriage to Eleanor Roosevelt, his early political career, being afflicted by polio, and how he translated his personal struggle with disability to connect to and help the American people navigate the depths of the Depression, ultimately culminating in his partnership with UK Prime Minister Winston Churchill that aided in his adept handling of World War II.”
“FDR” is produced by RadicalMedia in association with GroupM Motion Entertainment. Jon Kamen, Dave Sirulnick, Meredith Bennett, Liz Bull and Malcolm Venville serve as executive producers for RadicalMedia. Richard Foster and Chet Fenster serve as executive producers for GroupM Motion Entertainment. Alex Browne is showrunner and Malcolm Venville is directing the series. Doris Kearns Goodwin and Beth Laski serve as executive producers for Pastimes Productions. Bradley Cooper and Kristen Barnett serve as executive producers for Lea Pictures. Eli Lehrer, Mary E. Donahue and Jennifer Wagman are executive producers for The History Channel. Paul Sparrow, former Director at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum, serves as historical consultant.
Freeman will produce “Black Patriots: The 761st Battalion,” a two hour documentary about the first Black tank unit to serve in combat during World War II. Per the official description, the doc will go in depth into “the two major battles they faced – the expansion of Nazism in Europe and racism, oppression, and inequality at home.” It will feature Freeman interviewing one of the last surviving members of the 761st, as well as the current and first Black Secretary of Defense, Secretary Lloyd Austin, alongside new and archival interviews, period footage, still photographs and new commentary and stories from family and relatives of the Black Panther soldiers.
“Black Patriots: The 761st Battalion” is produced by Revelations Entertainment, in association with GroupM Motion Entertainment. It is directed by Phil Bertelsen, who will serve as executive producer along with Freeman James Younger, Lori McCreary and Kelly Mendelsohn for Revelations Entertainment. Richard Foster and Chet Fenster serve as executive producers for GroupM Motion Entertainment. Eli Lehrer and Jennifer Wagman serve as executive producers for The History Channel.
Imperioli will executive produce and narrate the three-part docuseries “Five Families,” based on Selwyn Raab’s book “Five Families: The Rise, Decline and Resurgence of America’s Most Powerful Mafia Empires.”
Per the official description, “each two-hour episode will explore the dramatic rise, collapse, and resurgence of the American Mafia.”
“Five Families” is produced by Propagate and the Barnicle Brothers. Ben Silverman, Howard T. Owens, and Chelsea Friedland serve as executive producers for Propagate. Nick Barnicle and Colin Barnicle serve as executive producers for Barnicle Brothers. Imperioli is an executive producer, while Matthew Davis Walker is co-executive Producer. Mary E. Donahue and Zachary Behr are executive producer for The History Channel.
Finally, Aykroyd will host the 10-episode nonfiction series “The Unbelieveable with Dan Aykroyd.” The show is said to “uncover some of the most mysterious and bizarre inventions, creatures, people, and things throughout history. From a 440-pound Syrian bear turned military soldier to a man who survived being shot through the head with a 43-inch iron bar, the stories may appear unbelievable, but they are 100% true.”
The series is produced by Six West MediaTM group. Steve Ascher, Matt Pearl and Kristy Sabat serve as executive producers for Six West MediaTM group. Aykroyd is also an executive producer. Brooke Townsend, Mike Stiller, and Mary E. Donahue serve as executive producers for The History Channel.
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