Showtime To Air Climate Change Series From James Cameron, Jerry Weintraub and Arnold Schwarzenegger

“YEARS OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY” to feature Matt Damon, Don Cheadle and Alec Baldwin as first-person narrators on the ground; series also to be executive produced by “60 Minutes” veterans Joel Bach & David Gelber.

I could not be more excited to announce the upcoming Showtime TV event, “Years of Living Dangerously,” a 6- to 8-part documentary series focusing on climate change, impacts and solutions.

I am the Technical Advisor for the first-of-its-kind series, which means I help advise the producers which scientists and experts they should talk to on a given story. Ultimately I’ll be looking out for any technical mistakes in the final product — which is set to air in late summer or fall 2013 — although we are assembling a science advisory board of A-list climatologists to help in that regard.

The talent that has been put together for this effort is amazing. The former “60 Minutes” producers who are exec-producing and co-exec-producing have a combined 18 Emmys! I’ve gotten to know Gelber and Bach — and they are both first rate. The print journalists involved have a combined 5 Pulitzers.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, of course, is the former Republican governor of California who enacted the nation’s most sweeping climate law, which mandates deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. James Cameron needs no introduction, but I can tell you that not only is he one of the most creative and imaginative people I’ve ever met, but he is also deeply passionate and knowledgeable about climate change.

Here is the Showtime release, with more background on the project and the participants:

LOS ANGELES, CA (December 03, 2012) – SHOWTIME will explore the human impact of climate change in the documentary event series YEARS OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY. This first-of-its-kind series is a collaboration between some of Hollywood’s biggest actors and producers, along with the country’s leading news journalists, who will report on first-person accounts of those affected by – and seeking solutions to – global warming. The project is executive produced by James Cameron, Jerry Weintraub, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, along with Emmy®-winning 60 Minutes producers Joel Bach and David Gelber, and climate expert Daniel Abbasi.

Film and television stars such as Matt Damon, Don Cheadle and Alec Baldwin will participate as first-person narrators on the ground. Also expected to join the project is actor Edward Norton, with more names to be announced soon. Reporting from the field is a dream team of New York Times journalists including three-time Pulitzer Prize winner Thomas Friedman, two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Nicholas Kristof, as well as renowned columnist Mark Bittman, and MSNBC host and political commentator Chris Hayes, among others. The announcement was made today by David Nevins, President of Entertainment for Showtime Networks Inc. Extensive in both scale and scope, YEARS OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY will unfold over six to eight, one-hour episodes and is scheduled to air in 2013.

“The recent devastation on the East Coast is a tragic reminder of the direct link between our daily lives and climate change,” said Nevins. “This series presents a unique opportunity to combine the large-scale filmmaking styles of James Cameron, Jerry Weintraub and Arnold Schwarzenegger — arguably some of Hollywood’s biggest movie makers — with the hard-hitting, intimate journalism of 60 Minutes veterans Joel Bach and David Gelber. I believe this combination will make for a thought-provoking television event.”

“We’ll make it exciting,” said Cameron. “We’ll make it investigative. We’ll bring people the truth. And people are always hungry for the truth.”

YEARS OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY will combine the epic and passionate styles of Hollywood’s top filmmakers with Bach and Gelber’s reporting expertise to reveal critical stories of heartbreak, hope and heroism as the race to save the planet continues.

Oscar® winner Cameron has been a long-time, vocal environmental advocate. His latest record-breaking sci-fi blockbuster Avatar, nominated for nine Academy Awards®, includes themes of civilization’s detrimental treatment of the planet. Weintraub, former chairman and CEO of United Artists and famed producer of the Ocean’s 11 franchise and other box-office hits, is well known for his philanthropic efforts on behalf of a wide variety of causes. Former California Governor Schwarzenegger is an active leader on environmental issues. As governor, he enacted the nation’s largest greenhouse gas emissions trading program. Since leaving office, he has continued to promote state and local clean energy efforts through his R20: Regions of Climate Action, and he recently announced plans to establish the USC Schwarzenegger Institute for State and Global Policy, devoted to seeking bipartisan solutions to environmental, economic, and other public policy issues. He will chair the think-tank’s board and also hold a public policy professorship at the school.

Of Gelber’s twenty-five years at 60 Minutes, he served as Ed Bradley’s producer for two decades, during which he won every major journalism award, including a Peabody, two DuPonts and eight Emmy Awards. During Bach’s seven-year tenure at 60 Minutes, he produced pieces for Bradley, Scott Pelley, Steve Kroft and Leslie Stahl. He is the recipient of three Emmy Awards. Abbasi, the founder of GameChange Capital, a venture capital firm funding low-carbon solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, will work with the series’ investigative team to identify and spotlight the most promising ways to decelerate climate change. Abbasi serves on the governing body of the U.S. National Climate Assessment and previously served as an appointee in the Clinton Administration’s Environmental Protection Agency.

Additionally, the series is also executive produced by Maria Wilhelm (Avatar Alliance Foundation). Seven-time Emmy winner Solly Granatstein (60 Minutes and Rock Center with Brian Williams) acts as co-executive producer, and Dr. Joseph Romm ( serves as the Technical Advisor.

Showtime Networks Inc. (SNI), a wholly-owned subsidiary of CBS Corporation….

23 Responses to Showtime To Air Climate Change Series From James Cameron, Jerry Weintraub and Arnold Schwarzenegger

  1. Mike Roddy says:

    This is great news, Joe. Ed Begley would probably also like to help.

  2. LGCarey says:

    Would be great if it could include some of James Balog’s “Extreme Ice” time lapse footage and before and after photos of glaciers. Those impress folks who haven’t been paying attention in a very visceral way – the glacier was “here” thirty years ago and now it’s “way up there”.

  3. Steve says:

    This is great, but please please please get some input from the humanists Joe. My fear on this issue is that too much attention is focused strictly on the scientific and not the human outcomes by which I mean: if something as relatively “benign” as record heat in Russia led to higher bread prices in the Middle East, and to all of the attendant political instability, imagine as things get worse. Resources become scarce, people displaced by climate disasters increase, political instability becomes a norm. It is only a matter of time before this results in a human made catastrophe (a large general war, a regional nuclear war, or – well, any number of horrifying scenarios). I for one do not want to see if the biosphere can tolerate small scale nuclear exchange. As someone who was a professional historian for many years (I’m a retired Humanities professor), my view is that time is not on our species’ side: two freight trains loaded with TNT are headed at one another. The first is human driven climate change; the second is human behavior in the face scarcity, disease, political upheaval, and a ruined environment. As almost any historian will tell you, at some point these trains will collide unless we get our hands around this dire situation.

  4. catman306 says:

    Will I be able to see this series on the internet at some later time?

  5. CW says:

    Good on ya man.

    I’m glad to hear of the personal connection angle. I’m sure you’ll do a great job showing people negatively affected by climate change (extreme weather, droughts, higher food prices, heat waves, lost outdoor vocations and vacations, etc.).

    I hope though that you also show people being happier as a result of living the solutions. As you’ve rightly remarked, and as Rupert Murdoch revealed in a tweet, to many the big block in accepting this reality is the incorrect perception that the solutions might be worse that the problem. Please show that to be false!

    Show the relief people feel when they don’t have to pay stiff energy bills. Or the independence and freedom they feel when they get off the grid altogether. Show how parents can help their kids shake nasty health problems when moving into perfectly spacious and beautiful green homes. Show the freedom people feel when they finally get those protected and separated bike lanes and their commute is suddenly affordable and healthy. Show people forming relationships and feeling a sense of community when the embrace more collaborative forms of consumption. Show them being happier when the embrace less consumption. Show the jobs people have because others buy locally. Show how comparatively free of corruption and corporate influence a number of nation states are around the world because they’re not so tied to fossil fuels. Show the power employers have to attract employees when they offer significant levels of teleworking. Show the opportunities for business to find new markets and products in the smart grid and clean tech.

    Show all that and more and I wager you’ll do twice as much to advance the cause as showing the problem alone.

  6. todd tanner says:

    Wonderful news, Joe. Congratulations, and thank you for all the hard work you’ve done over the years.

    One suggestion, if I may. Don’t preach to the choir. We need to change hearts & minds in Congress, and we need to do it on the right side of the aisle. Spend time reaching out to evangelicals, military & ex-military, and sportsmen. If this series can help put grassroots pressure on conservative politicians, it can shift the entire paradigm. For example, there are 37 million hunters & anglers in this country who stand to lose not only their hunting & fishing, but their entire outdoor heritage. Help make this real for them, and they’ll show up at town hall meetings and make the tea party look meek and mild in comparison.

    Good luck!

  7. Congratulations, Joe. I’m glad they are using you as an advisor — somebody who actually understands the issues and tells it like it is. The whole endeavor would be a waste of time if they got some wishy-washy media person to run the show based on his or her fame. (I can’t help but mention Candy Crowley in this context.)

    The national conversation about climate change is beginning to shift, and it’s good to set up this type of major media presentation to reach people. Having The Governator on board is a good move, because it shows that climate change is a human issue, not a “liberal” one. (I guess it’s time for Rush to start trashing Arnie.)

    I do wonder about this comment in the blurb: “Reporting from the field is a dream team of New York Times journalists including three-time Pulitzer Prize winner Thomas Friedman…”

    Isn’t Friedman the guy who thought the Iraq war was a great idea? Aside from being in the Pulitzer club, what has he actually contributed to the public’s perception of what’s needed to cure our ailing planet? I’d say stay close to Cameron — he’s the real Mickey.

  8. Brooks Bridges says:

    Wonderful news! The tide is turning swiftly!

  9. Richard Miller says:

    As someone who gives a lot of lectures on climate change in the midwest, it has become increasingly clear to me that for people to have hope that we actually have a chance to avoid catastrophic climate change they need to know three things:

    1. how serious the problem is and that we knew enough in the 1970’s such that we should have started taking action 40 years ago.

    2. That human communities can change quickly – the civil rights movement, the first earth day, Arab spring (although there is a lot of work there Hosni Mubarick of Egypt was displaced in 18 days.)

    3. There are a lot of people interested in the environment – According to Dr. Brulle 30 million Americans belong to an environmental organization.

    4. Wind and solar could power the world 50 times over. It is doable, look at Germany.

    In terms of people power – it is important for audiences to see inspiring portraits of the people, from scientists to ordinary activists fighting (marching, civil disobedience, setting up institutes for inform people, blogging, etc.) Some people that come to mind – Hansen, McKibben, Gus Speth going to jail; people in Texas protesting the Keystone Xl Pipeline by refusing to climb down from trees; Jane Kleeb and Bold Nebraska protesting the pipeline, the IPCC economist in Canada who stopped Warren Buffet’s coal trains; the groups in the Northwest and indigenous peoples in Canada who are working to stop coal ports, Alec Loorz who started the We Matter March. You need examples of people across demographics – rich, poor, young, old, etc. Without these inspiring portraits people become overwhelmed and do not know where to begin.

    My two cents.

    Thanks for working on this.

  10. This is a huge milestone in climate fight to get such an a-list of media, news and climate experts collaborating on “the human impact”.

    Thanks once again, for your leading work on the climate fight, Joe.

  11. Stephen says:

    This is great news Joe – you as advisor and such a cast (so far) sounds like a recipe for something powerful and new. Using the Trojan Horse of TV that people are used to allowing into their homes already is such a great idea.

    To echo one of the posters above, Rob Hopkins (founder of the Transition Movement) said that we must stop scaring people into making required changes in their lives but make the alternative future look so attractive that everyone will want to go there.

    I hope it makes it to the UK as well. Excellent news!

  12. prokaryotes says:

    I second this and great news ofc. Maybe they can arrange a web-version, which for example could be streamed on YouTube. Which means this can be a commercial success, even if it’s delivered for free.

  13. NJP1 says:

    It looks good, but if religion comes into it, then it’s going to be one big turn off.
    this mess has gone way beyond prayer to 3000 yr old gods, —-don’t forget a president was almost elected who believes in everyone having their own planet to despoil—there’s a thought for the deniers to conjure with. and there’s still the likes of Inhofe ranting that his god won’t allow it to happen.
    with a star lineup like that, the presentation will be superb, but how do we get past the ‘never watch the news, never read a newspaper’ crowd…trust me, that’s the sand where millions hide their heads …I know, I’ve tried to bring the subject up in conversation and that’s the general response
    And get it screened in UK as well!!!!

  14. NJP1 says:

    hate to put a fly in your personal ointment, but a ‘spacious green home’ is the embodiment of energy consumption.
    A house and everything in in it represents embodied energy, and the reason people can’t afford ‘spacious homes’ is because they can’t afford the energy that is used to construct them.
    House prices match rising energy cost exactly—wages haven’t, and that’s the problem
    that’s why you find people crowding closer and closer together–house shares, apartment shares, room shares and so on. It’s a matter of affordability
    150 years ago, before cheap energy became available, you would find 2 or 3 families sharing one room in appalling conditions
    So exactly how your green utopia is supposed to materialise I’m not quite sure, the spectre of a million city dwellers deciding to set up ‘spacious green homes’ somewhere is part of the fallacious thinking of utopian infinity that got us into this fine mess in the first place.
    I have no doubt we are going to see big changes soon, but the thought of us all in some sort of bucolic rural bliss is nonsense, to put it politely.
    The only way some of us are going to set up homes in rural isolation is if a lot of competition for that space is somehow removed. I leave for your imagination to play with!

  15. LP says:

    This sounds awesome, and I see a lot of great suggestions in the comments, so if I may add my own:

    I agree with todd tanner above, hopefully this program doesn’t make itself esoteric in a way that only ends up preaching to the choir.

    So from my experiences dealing with “skeptics” (from fairweather ones to hardcore deniers) – the best way to actually get the message across is to play their game, i.e. show them how much THEY are in fact being lied to.

    These people eat that stuff up (that’s clearly why they get so worked up over sensationalized non-scandals like climategate). So give them the same sort of sizzle, except this time with the substance to back it up.

    Get someone who will really expose this BS for what it is, and won’t mince words.

    Show them the back-story behind the 97% of climate experts who agree on AGW versus the back-story on the Oregon petition 30,000 “scientists” who want to sue Al Gore. Shine the spotlight on how many skeptic scientists and so-called think tanks have explicit connections to fossil fuels, or previously big tobacco. Introduce them to TVMOB for comic relief. Have someone read the climategate emails in their proper context. Etc.

    The denialist campaign has obviously become a significant sub-story in the climate change discussion.

    People are becoming increasingly aware of it (finally!), but I don’t think they grasp the gravity of just how seedy, devious and politically motivated it really is.

    So get someone who can really show them. The evidence is all easily available – we just need someone who can communicate it effectively. The producers don’t have to make it some left vs right thing – just a truth versus “here’s how you are being totally played for a fool if you believe this crap” kind of thing.

    I just know from experience this is the only way I have ever personally gotten through to skeptics (and I have been surrounded by them). The more I show them dramatic images of climate change, the more they call me an alarmist. The more I try to explain the science, the more confused they become and just reach for easier to digest denier alternatives like “it’s a natural cycle”.

    But when I play this card – that’s when their hearts start beating, the blood gets flowing, the gears start turning, and the little light finally comes on.

    It’s just my suggestion, but I think it’s really really about time someone pulled on this thread in prime time.

  16. Spike says:

    Glad to see your work is being made available to a wider audience Joe. I just hope we in the UK and other non-US areas can see this important programme – God knows we’ve had enough lies, false balance, and FUD on our screens about climate.

  17. Michael Ross says:

    I’ve heard great things about this series and glad it’s finally coming to fruition. The only sad part appears to be that only Showtime subscribers will get to see it. Perhaps after it has run on Showtime, CBS might consider airing it again on broadcast television, so the rest of us can see it. It is a timely series on the most important topic of our time and broadcasting it to a wider audience would be a real public service.

  18. fj says:

    Great stuff must be in your that we must move on the climate crisis now as everything depends on it.

  19. A great opportunity, Joe. Congratulations, and good for all of us.

    With the creative power of this line-up, there’s almost no constraint on how to tell the story.

    I agree that it should focus on the future of humanity. Facts, yes, but in support of the sobering and literally dreadful future that could be ours without quick action. The trick is to balance fright with hope.

    Ultimately, we all have to agree that we’re not going to do this anymore. That we’re going to make the sacrifice to transition quickly away from fossil-fuels-at-will to a different basis for our economy and way of life.

    We ended slavery. That took a war. But we agreed on women’s suffrage and on civil rights with much less trauma. It can be done.

    Whether we like it or not, religion has a place in this discussion. There is no “reasoning” that will persuade deniers that we should avoid annihilation. The only avenue is moral suasion. Deniers have to feel moral disgust at carrying on the present course, and moral duty to change it. Religion transcends reason. It was key to ending slavery, to giving the vote to women, and to establishing civil rights.

    Religion can be abused, too. That’s a scenario you might depict. If the right-wing deniers are not knocked off their conviction that God is behind them, they will persecute us “others” once the SHTF.

    Narrative and symbols. Those are the keys.

    The ice cap is the idiot light at the top of the world. Save the ice cap.

  20. Philip Pease says:

    Perhaps if the message is kept simple and straight forward – It is GREED (all those fossil fuel resources represent enormous wealth) behind the actions of fossil fuel corporation denying that it is they who are responsible. Desire for wealth at any cost is something Jesus pointed to as a bad decision. The fossil fuel corporations are acting just like the tobacco corporations – the desire for wealth is so great that those people do not care how much harm they are causing to the peoples of the world.

  21. Philip Pease says:

    Warning – there are powerful forces (big money interests) that will want you to insert doubt about what is happening regarding climate change into your presentation. I urge you to not succumb to their interests (which is to continue to exploit fossil fuel resources no matter how great the threat to civilization).

    The message should be very clear – if we continue to increase greenhouse gasses (by continuing to use fossil fuels) we are heading toward hell on Earth. There are tipping points if when reached it will be impossible to prevent a runaway greenhouse effect and that would mean the collapse of civilization as we know it. The time is short and we must act to cut greenhouse gas emissions NOW.

  22. Anders Hsi says:

    I am glad to see climate change getting such major coverage in mainstream culture.

    Hopefully this will inspire more people into careers directly trying to realize the opportunity of bringing the planet together to solve this challenge.

    My colleagues of college students and recent grads are celebrating at We have a similar goal of bringing climate strange front and center into mainstream culture through fashion, trying to inspire a more environmentally conscious consumer culture. It would mean the world to us to donate our clothing to your show!

  23. Brian R Smith says:

    Great news Joe. Cameron, as both writer & director, is a master story teller. Avatar is a powerful allegory of Earth, human wickedness & moral challenge, and the possibility of compassion, transformation and renewal. If anyone can hold up a mirror up to our tragic actions and still weave in a sense of hope and purpose, it is Cameron and this team which wisely includes yourself. The limitations of Showtime (2 to 5 million viewers for “Homeland”) are what they are, but what a great start.