National Geographic Channel is going to air Season 2 of the Emmy-winning TV series, “Years of Living Dangerously.” David Letterman, Cecily Strong, and the Daily Show’s Aasif Mandvi will be joining Season 1 correspondents Tom Friedman, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ian Somerhalder, and Olivia Munn.
The first documentary series devoted to climate change ever to appear on a major network or premium cable, Season 1 of “Years” won the 2014 Emmy for outstanding non-fiction TV series — and can now be streamed on Netflix. James Cameron and Schwarzenegger are once again executive producers, along with co-creators (and former “60 Minutes” producers) Joel Bach and David Gelber who together have 13 Emmys.
The National Geographic Channel — a joint venture between National Geographic Society (NGS) and Fox Networks launched in 2001 — is carried in 90 million U.S. households (as compared to 23 million for Showtime, which aired Season 1). It is also carried in 430 million households worldwide, broadcasting in 171 countries and 45 languages.
“Years of Living Dangerously is bold, audacious and has a proven track record,” said Courteney Monroe, the CEO of National Geographic Channels. “By combining the access and reputation of National Geographic with Hollywood’s brightest minds and journalism’s heaviest hitters, we plan to create even greater impact with the new season and awaken all of us to the reality of our global situation.” The full news release is here.
I will be continuing my role as Chief Science Advisor for the show. We are expecting a much bigger audience nationally and globally, building on the nearly 13 million people who watched part or all of Season 1 when it aired on Showtime, plus the millions more who subsequently watched it on DVD, Netflix, Hulu, and other online platforms — and in 145 countries around the world.
A great deal of concern has been raised over the recent announcement that NGS has expanded its long-standing media partnership with Fox to include National Geographic magazine and its online media platforms in return for a large infusion of cash. Fox is owned by the Rupert Murdoch empire, known for its climate disinformation. It’s worth noting that Fox has had majority ownership of NatGeo Channel from its inception. Also, the Murdoch empire was split in 2013, and the part that owns the channel (and that did this deal) is 21st-Century Fox, which, as of August, is run by Rupert’s son, James.
James Murdoch and his wife Kathryn are sustainability advocates, as Quartz reports, and Kathryn in particular “is an environmentalist who worked with the Environmental Defense Fund and the Clinton Climate Initiative.”
I was not personally involved in the negotiations with National Geographic Channel, but I asked Bach what his impression was. He told me: “I’m excited about their brand, their incredible reach, the fact that everyone trusts them as a source of information (as they should), and their overall excitement and commitment to the climate issue. I’ve heard that this is one of the main issues they want to focus on going forward.”
Just last week, Gary Knell, National Geographic Society’s President and CEO, was asked about his brand “now you’re in bed with a media mogul who really doesn’t believe in climate change.” He replied:
First of all, we’ve been involved with 21st Century Fox for nearly 20 years and there’s never been a moment of editorial interference. The programming decisions that were made were jointly made, and I think the new slate of programming is more closely connected to the brand….
And that’s more in line with shows like “Cosmos” or “Years of Living Dangerously,” which is a huge show on climate change that aired globally on the National Geographic international channels.
Knell goes on to say, “We’re connecting a cover story in the magazine in November around climate change to an Explorer’s show on the channel in November around climate change, so people are going to have to judge us by what we do, not what’s said about us.”
I think Season 2 of “Years of Living Dangerously” will be even better than Season 1 — even though Season 1 was called by Daily Kos “the most important television series ever,” and the UK Guardian “the most important climate change multimedia communication endeavor in history.” In particular, Bach said, the show will “focus much more this season on solutions that individuals, communities, companies and even governments can use to address worldwide climate change.”
Like Season 1, Season 2 will be gripping, narrative-driven, Emmy-quality television that supports and advances the growing national conversation on the most important news story of our time, climate change. You can follow the progress of the episodes and its cast here.