WASHINGTON (July 9, 2004)–National Geographic Television & Film will bring author and scholar Jared Diamond’s sometimes controversial theories about the course of human civilization to the screen in “Guns, Germs, and Steel,” a new three-part television series produced exclusively for PBS. Diamond’s Pulitzer Prize-winning work offers a revealing look at the rise and fall of societies through the lens of geography, technology, biology, and economics — forces symbolized by the power of guns, germs and steel.
The production spans five continents and uses epic historical reenactments to illustrate Diamond’s theories, explaining why societies developed differently in different parts of the world — why some became conquerors and others the conquered.
Michael Rosenfeld, executive producer and senior vice president for specials and event programming at National Geographic Television & Film, is overseeing the project. The series is produced for National Geographic by UK-based Lion Television, Ltd., which has made award-winning programming for PBS and internationally, including the Emmy-nominated “Egypt’s Golden Empire,” “Medici: Godfathers of the Renaissance” and “The Greeks: Crucible of Civilization.”
The series uses a wide-screen format and features footage from across the globe: Jordan, Peru, Spain, Zambia, South Africa, Papua New Guinea, the United Kingdom and the United States. It features interviews with scholars, archaeologists, geneticists, biologists, historians and anthropologists from several continents. Through extensive research and innovative production techniques, the filmmakers pull the viewer into experiencing firsthand the ideas in the book.
The series is organized into three one-hour parts. The first, “The Crucible of Civilization,” examines how a society’s potential for advanced development was not determined by race or creed, or by time and experience, but by geography and access to domesticated animals and cultivated plants. Part two, “The Clash of Civilizations,” explores the impact of weapons and disease in shaping the course of history. Part three, “The Haves and Have-nots,” looks at the world of today to see whether geography is still a factor in forming the divide between those with money and resources and those with neither.
“This series takes Jared Diamond’s key insight — geography as destiny — and explores it through images of science, history and discovery around the world. This was an ideal challenge for National Geographic Television & Film. It is 13,000 years of history condensed in an amazing three hours of television. But the series also goes beyond the book and brings its ideas into the present day,” said Michael Rosenfeld, executive producer.
“Guns, Germs, and Steel” is funded by Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations.
About National Geographic Television and Film
Building on its global reputation for remarkable visuals and compelling stories, National Geographic Television & Film augments its award-winning documentary productions (122 Emmy Awards and more than 900 other industry awards) with feature films, giant-screen films, kids’ programming and long-form television drama programming. Worldwide, National Geographic’s television programming can be seen on the National Geographic Channel, MSNBC and PBS, home video and DVD, and through international broadcast syndication. The National Geographic Channel is received by more than 200 million households in 26 languages in 148 countries, including the United States. For more information about National Geographic Television & Film, log on tonationalgeographic.com, AOL Keyword: NatGeo.
About Lion Television, Ltd.
Lion Television is one of the most successful independent production companies in the United Kingdom. In its first six years Lion has produced over 800 hours of television. In 2003 Lion produced over 230 programs and currently has over 140 hours in production –producing programs for all U.K. terrestrial channels as well as cable, satellite and network for U.K. and U.S. broadcasters. The company has over 200 production staff at its London, Glasgow, New York, Miami and Los Angeles bases. Lion is one of the few independent television companies noted for its strong relation with international broadcasters in Europe — Scandinavia, Italy, France, and Ireland, Australia, Canada, and the United States. In the U.S. the slate of programs includes productions for CBS, Fox, PBS (WGBH, WNET and OPB), Discovery Channel, Discovery Health, E! Entertainment, Animal Planet, National Geographic, The Learning Channel, The Travel Channel, HBO, Court TV, A & E and MSNBC.
PBS is a private, nonprofit media enterprise that serves the nation’s 349 public noncommercial television stations, reaching nearly 90 million people each week. Bringing diverse viewpoints to television and the Internet, PBS provides high-quality documentary and dramatic entertainment, and consistently dominates the most prestigious award competitions. PBS is the leading provider of educational materials for K-12 teachers, and offers a broad array of educational services for adult learners. PBS’ premier kids’ TV programming and Web site, PBS KIDS® Online (pbskids.org), continue to be parents’ and teachers’ most trusted learning environments for children. More information about PBS is available at pbs.org, the leading dot-org Web site on the Internet. PBS is headquartered in Alexandria, Va.