National Geographic viewers have come to expect a smorgasbord of documentaries, but the channel is soon going to offer something new. Nat Geo’s first-ever scripted series is coming, reports Deadline. Called Genius, the anthology drama has been given a straight-to-series order.
Set to spotlight some of the world’s best-known innovators, the inaugural season of Genius will center on Albert Einstein, exploring his work and complex personal life. The story will be based on the 2007 biography Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson. Equally intriguing is the fact that Brain Grazer is attached as executive producer, while Ron Howard will direct the first episode.
“I look forward to National Geographic’s support as we tell this ambitious but intimate and revealing human story behind Einstein’s scientific brilliance,” Howard told Deadline. “I hope that his story, as well as those of other geniuses, will both entertain and inspire the next generation of Einsteins.”
The creative team also includes writer and co-executive producer Noah Pink. The project’s executive producers also include Imagine Television’s Francie Calfo; OddLot Entertainment’s Gigi Pritzker and Rachel Shane; and EUE/Sokolow’s Sam Sokolow and Jeff Cooney. Meanwhile, Anna Culp and Melissa Rucker are co-producing.
Scripted content isn’t entirely unheard of for Nat Geo. The channel has attracted viewers with its Killing films, which focus on assassinations (and attempted ones, as in Killing Reagan). The miniseries Saints & Strangers was another previous scripted project, but with just two parts, it differs greatly from Genius.
Nat Geo has clearly been interested in increasing the volume of its scripted content for at least the past several months. Carolyn Bernstein became the channel’s first dedicated scripted executive in December 2015, taking on the role of EVP, head of global scripted development and production. Filming is expected to being this summer, with Genius set for a spring 2017 premiere.