"We don't use machine guns. We use words."
- Steve Drain, Westboro Baptist Church
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC CHANNEL EXPLORES CONTROVERSIAL AND
POLARIZING SUBCULTURES THAT EXIST ON THE
From a "Nazi Town" to the Westboro Baptist Church,
New Six-Part Series Premiering Wednesday, July 9, at 10:00 PM ET/PT
Investigates America's Most Divisive and, at Times, Dangerous Communities
(WASHINGTON, D.C. - June 23, 2014) White supremacists. Anti-gay churchgoers. Freedom- loving misfits. Gun-toting "hillbillies." Across all 50 states, there are provocative groups of Americans with unorthodox beliefs that do more than just raise eyebrows; they push the limits of our judicial system. Often challenged for their beliefs, many of these individuals and groups have chosen to remain outside of the limelight, shying away from the media attention ... until now.
Gaining unprecedented access and employing dramatic storytelling, National Geographic Channel (@NatGeoChannel) pushes boundaries with a thrilling, in-depth look at some of the country's most controversial subcultures in American Fringe - a six-part series premiering Wednesday, July 9, at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT. For more information, visit www.natgeotv.com and follow us on Twitter at @NGC_PR.
In the series premiere, American Fringe follows a notorious white supremacist's mission to transform a small rural community in North Dakota into a full-blown "Nazi Town." Throughout the season, each episode focuses on a different community, ranging from the infamous Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., to a relatively unknown group of squatters living "lawlessly" among the ruins of an abandoned military base in Southern California. Their routines and practices may seem offensive or absurd to the general public, but their problems can be strikingly similar to our own - family, freedom and prosperity all come into play.
Using an immersive documentary style, American Fringe chronicles the lives of people who function outside the boundaries of modern society. Insider-access footage, combined with candid first-person interviews from community members and their non-supporters alike, offer viewers a 360-degree perspective of the polarizing debates that surrounds each of these unconventional groups. The result is captivating television that doesn't pull any punches.
Premiere episodes include:
American Fringe: Nazi Town
Premieres Wednesday, July 9, at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT
In the small town of Leith, N.D., a peaceful community is turned upside down when notorious white supremacist Craig Cobb arrives to claim domain of Leith and provide sanctuary for what he hopes will be an influx of like-minded white supremacists. With land in Leith being abundant and cheap, Cobb has already bought 12 plots, and neo-Nazis have begun to arrive. Tensions rise when its residents, refusing to stand idly by, go on the offensive against Cobb's Nazi incursion. With the ethicality of the townspeople's actions on the line, and Cobb's First Amendment rights in question, the community fears Cobb will make Leith his permanent residence. That is, until Cobb's temper gets the best of him. The dramatic showdown unfolds after Cobb and a friend "patrol" the town brandishing loaded weapons and screaming derogatory slurs at its residents - an act that lands both of them in jail on seven counts of terrorism.
American Fringe: Church of Hate
Premieres Wednesday, July 16, at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT
American Fringe crosses the picket lines to explore the dogma, hierarchy and corrosive message of the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) during a pivotal transition in the parish's history. For more than 50 years, Fred Phelps spearheaded the WBC's crusade against homosexuality and its infamous "God Hates Fags" message. While filming, Phelps passed away and our cameras were there to document members of this church as they grapple with the loss of their incendiary leader and the rise of the heir apparent. Steve Drain, a relatively recent convert to the church, denies taking the reins, but appears to be the next in line to lead the church. With the future of the church in question, in-depth interviews with Drain and other members of the organization allude to the church's continued and strengthened commitment to preach their homophobic message. NGC also interviews ex-communicated members and leaders of the Equality House, a civil rights organization headquartered in a rainbow-painted house located directly across the street from the Westboro Baptist Church.
American Fringe: Slab City
Premieres Wednesday, July 23, at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT
Deep within California's Mojave Desert lays a last bastion of pure anarchy, a post-apocalyptic dreamland for an unlikely mash-up of artists, utopians, junkies, burnouts and ex-cons. The inhabitants call it "The Last Free Place in America." To the masses it is known as "Slab City." American Fringe cameras are granted access inside the squatters' paradise to document a political shift of this "lawless" town. With the looming threat of the "Slabs" being purchased from outside development in order to turn the land into a solar energy farm, a few "Slabbers" are attempting to band together to purchase the land for themselves. Lying in direct opposition are the "True Slabbers" who see this as nothing more than a power play. Things get heated as each party vehemently fights for the future of the "Slabs" while trying to hold on to their version of the last libertarian utopia.
American Fringe: The Legend of Oniontown
Premieres: Wednesday, July 30, at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT
Very rarely are outsiders allowed inside the clandestine enclave of Oniontown - not even the pizza delivery guy. Located about 90 miles north of New York City, this small community has been mocked and persecuted for years, with many locals referring to them as "inbred hillbillies." As a result, the residents have become notoriously private, spiteful and even violent toward outsiders. With the hopes of dispelling these rumors, residents agree to grant NGC cameras an all-access pass to Oniontown during a tumultuous time in the community's history. With the 82-year-old matriarch, mayor, disciplinarian and all around leader's health failing, we'll witness a power struggle between family members to take over the throne. Meanwhile, residents from the surrounding community weigh in on the violence, drug abuse and havoc Oniontown is known for.
American Fringe is produced for National Geographic Channels by Hot Snakes Media. For Hot Snakes Media, executive producers are Eric Evangelista and Shannon Evangelista. For National Geographic Channels, executive producer is Robert Palumbo; vice president of production and development is Lynn Sadofsky; senior vice president of programming and development is Alan Eyres; and executive vice president of programming and strategy is Heather Moran.
National Geographic Channels
Based at the National Geographic Society headquarters in Washington, D.C., the National Geographic Channels US are a joint venture between National Geographic and Fox Networks. The Channels contribute to the National Geographic Society's commitment to exploration, conservation and education with smart, innovative programming and profits that directly support its mission. Launched in January 2001, National Geographic Channel (NGC) celebrated its fifth anniversary with the debut of NGC HD. In 2010, the wildlife and natural history cable channel Nat Geo WILD was launched, and in 2011, the Spanish-language network Nat Geo Mundo was unveiled. The Channels have carriage with all of the nation's major cable, telco and satellite television providers, with NGC currently available in over 85 million U.S. homes. Globally, National Geographic Channel is available in more than 440 million homes in 171 countries and 45 languages. For more information, visit www.natgeotv.com.