[04/02/09 - 12:35 PM]
Animal Planet Unleashes Bold Entertainment Slate in 2009-2010 Upfront Season

[via press release from Animal Planet]


-- Network Announces Most Ambitious Lineup Ever With 24 Original Series --

(NEW YORK, NY)�Riding the wave of last year's successful network rebrand, Animal Planet unveils its boldest slate ever for the 2009-2010 season with 24 original series, including a record 14 returning series�the most in the network's history. With six months of primetime growth and double-digit growth during first quarter in key demos, the Planet's ambitious roster features a broad range of content with an entertainment attitude.

"Last year's rebrand was all about transforming Animal Planet into a multi-dimensional entertainment destination that can compete with the best television," said Marjorie Kaplan, president and general manager of Animal Planet Media. "We've had success in every one of our genres from grand scale docudramas like WHALE WARS and JOCKEYS to our Saturday night pet entertainment to gorgeous natural history. This year's slate builds from there to make us even stronger and more exciting."

From the witty IT'S ME OR THE DOG to the mysterious LOST TAPES, Animal Planet is renewing an unprecedented 14 series including JOCKEYS and WHALE WARS, the network's best performing series ever among Adults 25-54 that also delivered an average of more than a million viewers (1.021M P2+) in its freshman season.

The Planet's foray into dramatic television territory expands with the new docudrama COWBOYS, which follows three family-owned and operated cattle ranches through an entire grueling yet gorgeous season in majestic Montana, and then the real-life "mission impossibles" of venom expert Donald Schultz, whose fearless worldwide pursuit of bio-specimens for groundbreaking scientific discoveries are captured in the new high-octane series BIO RECON. And, in PIT BULLS AND PAROLEES, Tia Torres offers abandoned dogs and forsaken ex-cons a last chance at redemption.

The network's new series roster also builds on the success of its Saturday pet entertainment destination with YouTube sensation Zak George. Man's best friends will have a blast making their owner's lives a whole lot better as Zak turns everyday pet owners and their ordinary pets into awe-inspiring tricksters in FETCH ME A BEER (working title). New Yorker Judi Hoffman has more than a few tricks up her sleeve with her psychic cats, Puffy and Beulah. Animal Planet introduces viewers to the trio's "purrfect" paranormal powers in the JUDI HOFFMAN PROJECT (working title).

Continuing to transform natural history storytelling, the network creates an immersive 360� on-air and online interactive gaming experience in the cutting-edge series IPREDATOR. Watch and play in real time as the show transforms live-action footage into CGI animation and back, allowing viewers to become the predator and experience directly the heart-pounding, most intense moments of animal behavior. Animal Planet takes a different bite out of the natural history genre as it dares to imagine a world where WEREWOLVES are not mythical but an authentic part of today's society in this upcoming two-hour special.

Breathtaking, high-definition natural history takes center stage as Animal Planet reveals the secrets lives of African elephants in THE HERD and LIVING WITH ELEPHANTS. Then tune in to the remarkable three-hour HD television event THE GREAT RIFT, a wildlife journey from the snow-capped mountains of Kilimanjaro to coral reefs of the Red Sea and the savannas of the Serengeti to the rain-soaked forests of the Mountains of the Moon.

Highlights of Animal Planet's 2009-2010 Upfront programs include the following debut series, returning series and specials/stunts:

NEW SERIES (in alphabetical order)

BIO RECON (Winter 2010)

It's one of the most dangerous jobs on the planet, but venom expert Donald Schultz is willing to risk his own life to do it. Whether harvesting venom from the fangs of deadly black mamba in South Africa or collecting new species of deadly jelly fish off the remote coasts of Papua New Guinea, Donald is fearless in the worldwide pursuit of bio-specimens for groundbreaking scientific discoveries. With Donald tearing his way through thick jungle undergrowth or clinging desperately to rock ledges on his nearly impossible missions, the samples that he collects could contain the blueprint for undiscovered antivenins or even a cure for a life-threatening disease. Each mission brings him face to face with the deadliest creatures on earth, and each location offers a series of challenges only he can overcome. It's a race against the clock, but before he can deliver his precious cargo, Donald still will have to make it out alive.

COWBOYS (working title) (Spring 2010)

Set against the majestic backdrop of Montana, COWBOYS follows three family-owned and operated ranches through an entire gorgeous and grueling season, from calving and weaning to cattle drives and auction. From the traditional rancher who does everything by hand and on horseback to the modern ranch that uses high-tech equipment and all-terrain vehicles, each family's fortune depends on the success or failure of the season. Facing unpredictable weather, disease and injuries, thousands of new births and hungry predators waiting for an easy meal, these modern ranches continue the great American tradition of life on the range. COWBOYS is larger-than-life, life-and-death, real-life drama.

FETCH ME A BEER (working title) (Fall 2009)

Too lazy to get off the couch for the pizza delivery guy? Pregnant and can't change the litter box? Need some help hiding the remote from your spouse? Don't worry; your pet's got you covered! With the help of YouTube sensation Zak George, your fluffy pal truly will live up to the title of "man's best friend." Zak can teach anyone to teach any pet to perform any trick. His step-by-step process transforms incapable humans and their ordinary pets into awe-inspiring tricksters while strengthening the bond between them. FETCH ME A BEER does more than teach old dogs new tricks!

IPREDATOR (Winter 2010)

Fight or flight. Kill or be killed. IPREDATOR is an immersive television and real-time interactive gaming experience that puts viewers right in the moment as predators on the hunt for their prey. Using state-of-the art technology, the series transforms live-action footage into intricate models to allow viewers to see animal action like never before in a new genre of visual storytelling. This groundbreaking, intense, riveting natural history series is also an interactive video game where viewers and users can play along in real time at home � truly a 360 degree visceral experience that gives viewers and players the tools, technology and expertise to study the secrets and dispel the myths of the most critical, most intense, most heart-pounding moment of animal behavior.

JUDI HOFFMAN PROJECT (working title) (Winter 2010)

Judi Hoffman is no ordinary New Yorker. Sure, she has the accent. Of course, she's got the no-nonsense attitude. But there's one thing that truly separates her from the other Upper Eastsiders: Judi knows your future, and so do her psychic cats. In her 30 years as a professional psychic, Judi has distinguished herself from the fakes, the kooks and the cheaters by providing accurate and specific predictions by using her secret weapons -- her cats, Puffy and Beulah. Without her purrfect paranormal powers, Judi's readings become clouded and inaccurate. But with their help, just watch� This new series spotlights Judi and her cats as they give readings to strangers on the street, offer romantic predictions at speed-dating events, and even help police fight crime one suspect at a time. In these new adventures, Judi and her kitty cats will charm, astound and push you to believe the impossible.


Two hundred pit bulls--six convicted felons on parole--and 10 dusty acres in the middle of nowhere--Welcome to Villalobos Rescue Center, the crossroads for a chance at redemption, rehabilitation and rebirth for both man and man's best friend. And, at the center of it all is one extraordinary woman � Tia Maria Torres, one of the country's most renowned pit bull trainers and the founder of the center. Follow the fiery drama and unexpected joy in this new series as felons and ill-reputed dogs come together to rescue one another from their dim pasts and bring new meaning to life. Torres works against all odds to save PIT BULLS AND PAROLEES from dangerous and abusive situations and to help repair their reputations and their lives.

THE HERD (Fall 2009)

Nestled at the foot of Africa's tallest mountain, Mt. Kilimanjaro, 1,200 elephants comprising the largest group of free, wild elephants on earth are fighting for survival on a daily basis. For the first time, THE HERD provides viewers with a sustained, insider's look at the daily dramas and intimate moments of these magnificent giants as they gather at Amboseli National Park in Kenya. From the young babies to the huge bulls to the mature matriarchs that lead each family group, every elephant is identifiable with its own unique character and name just like a human. Each one of Amboseli's elephants is known individually to Cynthia Moss and her team of local Masai, who have studied them for more than 30 years. With the help of Cynthia and her team, viewers follow the elephants over the course of a year as they battle against drought, predators and hunters and welcome new calves into their ranks. With each day bringing a new set of challenges and adventures, witness the extraordinary drama of wild Africa at its best as we follow THE HERD.


There are certain regions of the world where civilization and the wild overlap. As more and more humans encroach upon animal habitats, the lines between civilization and the wild are blurring. Increasingly, humans are coming into extremely close contact with some of nature's fiercest predators. Such places include Churchill; Manitoba, where polar bears have threatened the safety of the town's inhabitants; the Sunderbans delta of India, where tigers and citizens dangerously co-exist; and certain regions of Florida, where a full third of the world's shark attacks occur in once-thought "friendly waters." Large predator expert and zoologist Dave Salmoni travels to these treacherous locales to uncover the truth behind the animal attacks, meet the victims, and better understand just why and how these regions have become so hazardous.


DOGS 101 (Fall 2009)

The most comprehensive � and most endearing -- dog encyclopedia on television is back! With over 200 dog breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club, DOGS 101 will spotlight the adorable, the feisty and the unexpected. A wide-ranging rundown of everyone's favorite dog breeds�from the Airedale Terrier to Zuchon�this series will survey a variety of breeds for their behavioral quirks, genetic history, most famous examples and wildest trivia. Learn which dogs are best for urban living and which ones are most family friendly. Using a mix of animal experts, pop-culture footage and stylized dog photography, DOGS 101 is an unprecedented look at man's best friend.

IT'S ME OR THE DOG (Winter/Spring 2010)

She's baaack and not a moment too soon! British dog-training expert Victoria Stilwell is back for a second season to help American families at the end of their leashes. From unruly retrievers to pampered pugs, Victoria has seen them all � but what about the owners who are forced to live with them? With homes destroyed and marriages in trouble, it's not just the dogs that need help. This series follows Victoria as she tries to restore harmony in homes from Atlanta to Los Angeles, where pets are running riot and the family is in the dog house. Through observation, interviews, filming with a �pet cam' and reviewing footage of the family on their own with their dog, Victoria uses her more than 20 years of experience to assemble the evidence and diagnose the problem, offering both pet and owner the chance to change the bad habits of a lifetime.

JOCKEYS (Summer/Fall 2009)

Animal Planet returns viewers to the high-stakes world of horse racing with a sophomore season of JOCKEYS. Dominated by ferocious rivalries, fierce bonds and extraordinary risk, the series documents the behind-the-scenes lives of these athletes and their magnificent racehorses. It is a world ruled by 112 lb. men (and women) on 1,200 lb. thoroughbreds�equipped with oversized personalities and big dreams. Bringing back six previously featured jockeys as well as two new jockeys who are at the height of their career, JOCKEYS follows the cut-throat competition at the pristine Santa Anita Race Track, from pre-race jitters to the finish line�and everything in between.

LOST TAPES (Fall 2009)

This first-person, immersive series blurs the line between fact and fiction as it explores deadly encounters with the mysterious creatures that science refuses to recognize. From werewolves to the Jersey Devil and giant, blood sucking parasites, LOST TAPES second season promises nastier creatures and bigger scares with every spine-chilling, dramatic moment caught on camera. Take an intense journey into terror as we find out what goes bump in the night.


In its eighth season, the timeless natural history series MUTUAL OF OMAHA'S WILD KINGDOM returns in stunning high definition on Animal Planet. One of the longest-running series in television history with several decades of epic wildlife drama, MUTUAL OF OMAHA'S WILD KINGDOM is a viewing tradition on Sundays at 7 PM. The series offers viewers unprecedented, high-quality wildlife adventures and storytelling. This season, enter the worlds of killer whales, leopards, polar bears, snakes, lizards and more as they struggle to survive and thrive in the most challenging conditions.


Always wild, uncensored and raw, Animal Planet's popular, clip-based reality series is back with brand-new episodes. UNTAMED AND UNCUT returns with the most incredible animal encounters ever caught on tape. From heart-stopping attacks to heartwarming rescues, UNTAMED AND UNCUT showcases the stories, the people and the animals whose lives have been forever changed by unbelievable chance encounters. Animal expert testimonies and 3-D computer-generated recreations help deconstruct the extraordinary events and astonishing footage. You won't believe your eyes!

WEIRD, TRUE & FREAKY (Fall 2009)

Snakes in your sewage, albino animals, panthers as pets. �These rare and bizarre scenaria may sound like punch lines, but this is no laughing matter. It's serious science, and we've got the pictures to prove it! From an entire elementary school being taken over by monkeys to a deer with two tails and six legs, each episode of WEIRD, TRUE & FREAKY tackles a true-life, truly weird animal story. Animal Planet delivers in-depth analysis of the footage and fresh insight from scholars, including Stanford University animal experts Dr. Jill Helms and Dr. Sophia Yin, exotic animal specialist Dave Riherd, and snake wrangler Jason C. McElroy. Surprising, startling, sensational � and 100 percent real.

WHALE WARS (Summer 2010)

Captain Paul Watson and his Sea Shepherd Conservation Society return in another adrenaline-fueled season of WHALE WARS, waging a life-and-death battle to find and stop Japanese ships from hunting whales in the name of research. For several years, Watson and his eclectic group of international staff and volunteers - labeled activists, heroes or eco-pirates -- have taken a hard-line approach to eradicate whaling, poaching, and shark-finning and alleged ocean-law violations. This year's even more dangerous and controversial campaign garnered unprecedented international media attention, raising the stakes for these crusaders and their foes. WHALE WARS follows a masterful chess match at the far end of the globe as both Sea Shepherd and the Japanese whalers engage in an environmental showdown that could cost millions of dollars - all while drawing global attention to the practice of whaling.



From Long Beach, California, Animal Planet brings viewers the biggest, most exciting dog show of the year -� the American Kennel Club/Eukanuba National Championship. This invitation-only event features the world's best dogs, which have competed all year long in the hopes of getting this coveted invitation. Thousands of canines from around the country and across the globe compete, but only one will come away with "Best in Show" honors and the prestige of being named National Champion. Watch all the action in the ring, and go behind the scenes with Animal Planet's exclusive coverage of the most prestigious canine event of the year.


Follow the remarkable stories of magnificent wild elephants living in Kenya's Samburu National Reserve through the eyes of Kenya's ground-breaking Save the Elephants project. With the help of father-daughter duo Iain Douglas-Hamilton and Saba Douglas-Hamilton and young Samburu prot�g� David Dabalen, this breathtaking documentary explores the secret beguiling world of elephants as never seen before. For the first time, researchers will follow the astonishing, intimate stories of individual elephants as these beautiful giants raise their families, forge alliances and fight for survival.

PUPPY BOWL VI (Winter 2010)

Get set for some serious mayhem! PUPPY BOWL is back for its sixth year with an all-star, all-adorable cast that's ready to mix it up on the grand gridiron of Animal Planet Stadium. Narrated by famed Phillies and NFL films commentator Harry Kalas, PUPPY BOWL VI brings viewers a fantastic lineup that's itching to play in a winning combination of tackles and fumbles, puppy penalties and fido first downs. From baby beagles and bull terriers to everything in between�we've got the cutest players taking the field on Super Bowl Sunday. And that's not all. PUPPY BOWL VI will feature more than a dozen of the cutest kittens you've ever seen in a hilarious Kitten Half-Time Show that's sure to bring down the house.

THE GREAT RIFT (Summer 2010)

Visible from space, the Great Rift runs for thousands of miles. It creates, connects and defines the wildest, most charismatic landscape in the world which spans from the majestic, snow-capped mountains of the Kilimanjaro to the hustle and bustle of the Red Sea's coral reefs. It touches the dry, open savannas of the Serengeti and the rain-soaked forests of the Mountains of the Moon. A new three-hour mini series, THE GREAT RIFT is a journey through the amazing geography of the rift, depicting how the forces of nature have shaped and evolved the landscape in the cradle of mankind.

WEREWOLVES (Fall 2009)

This two-hour special takes a bite out of the natural history documentary genre as it dares to imagine that werewolves aren't a myth but a small segment of today's society. Shot in a faux-documentary style, the world of werewolves is explored as a deeply disturbing murder mystery unraveling within their clan. As the investigation heats up, a picture is painted of every aspect of these creatures' lives � from how they breed to how they remain undetected, all backed up by scientific explanations so plausible that even the hardiest skeptic will struggle to spot where reality ends and fantasy begins.

About Animal Planet

Animal Planet Media (APM), a multi-media business unit of Discovery Communications, is the world's only entertainment brand that immerses viewers in the full range of life in the animal kingdom with rich, deep content via multiple platforms and offers animal lovers and pet owners access to a centralized online, television and mobile community for immersive, engaging, high-quality entertainment, information and enrichment. APM consists of the Animal Planet television network, available in more than 95 million homes in the US; online assets www.animalplanet.com, the ultimate online destination for all things animal; the 24/7 broadband channel, Animal Planet Beyond; Petfinder.com, the #1 pet-related Web property globally that facilitates pet adoption; PetsIncredible, a major producer and distributor of pet-training videos and includes web service PetVideo.com; and other media platforms including a robust Video-on-Demand (VOD) service; mobile content; and merchandising extensions.

About Discovery Communications

Discovery Communications is the world's number-one nonfiction media company reaching more than 1.5 billion cumulative subscribers in over 170 countries. Discovery empowers people to explore their world and satisfy their curiosity through 100-plus worldwide networks, led by Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, Science Channel, Investigation Discovery and HD Theater, as well as leading consumer and educational products and services, and a diversified portfolio of digital media services including HowStuffWorks.com. Discovery Communications is owned by Discovery Holding Company (NASDAQ: DISCA, DISCB), Advance/Newhouse Communications and John S. Hendricks, Discovery's founder and chairman. For more information, please visit www.discoverycommunications.com.

  [april 2009]  


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