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Nat Geo assembles a crew of big-name directors for a show on innovation

Even though we could barely stand it, National Geographic is making a big push to build off the massive ratings success of its first scripted TV movie, Killing Jesus. The network just greenlit a scripted series about pilgrims and is now bringing out the big guns for Breakthrough, a one-hour show focusing on a different area of innovation in each episode. Noted hat-wearer Ron Howard and Brian Grazer are behind the project via their Imagine Entertainment banner and Asylum Entertainment. So far Angela Bassett, Peter Berg, Paul Giamatti, Akiva Goldsman, Brett Ratner, and Howard himself are set to direct episodes.

Breakthrough will tap into various topics like brain science, longevity, water, energy, pandemics, and cyborg technology, but at this point it’s unclear which director is attached to each one. Nat Geo partnered with GE to finance the show, so it’ll probably get a say in that particular game of musical chairs. The union also sets up the potential for ample name-dropping of Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell—in addition to inventing a few things back in their day, Edison was a founder of GE and Bell a founding member of the National Geographic Society. Howard is already way ahead of the game in that respect, nerding out with the comment, “It seems fitting their legacies will come together to celebrate and foster the creativity of other inventors and innovators who astound us every day with their ideas.”


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