History Channel Sets Projects With Tom Hanks, Barack Obama & Derek Jeter; Danny Trejo To Excavate Lost Civilizations

Tom Hanks will host and narrate a 20-part documentary series about World War II on the History Channel.

The project from Nutopia is one of several unveiled Wednesday by A+E Networks as it convened its virtual upfront presentation to advertisers.

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Along with the Hanks series, History is also teaming with Barack and Michelle Obama on a podcast exploring America’s Reconstruction Era. It is getting into business with former New York Yankees great Derek Jeter for two series, one about great warriors and the other about entertainers. And Danny Trejo will also host and narrate a new History series exploring “some of the greatest underground mysteries and the fascinating stories surrounding buried artifacts and lost civilizations,” as a press release put it.

As yet untitled, the Hanks-hosted docuseries “offers a comprehensive view of World War II,” History says, “thanks to new scholarship and rarely seen archive, that illuminates both the causes and pivotal moments” of the war.

“During my formative years, every single adult in my life would make references to two words: The War,” Hanks said in a press release. “The lasting effects of WWII on the world and my own family was not lost on me. I am thrilled to partner with The History Channel to produce this all-encompassing series with a long form format that will give us the ability to tell this important piece of history in its entirety.”

A+E President and Chairman Paul Buccieri called Hanks “one of America’s preeminent voices in WWII storytelling, not only respected for his on-screen portrayals but also for his deep insight and understanding of the war’s events and impact. As a leader in contextualizing historical narratives
for generations, Tom shares our commitment, vision, and responsibility to create premium, historically fact-based content, the foundation of A+E Networks.”

Jeter and his company, CAP 2 Productions, are behind two new series on the renowned warriors who altered history and the provocative entertainers who transformed American pop culture.

History also is reminding ad buyers about some previously announced projects. Those include a teaming with LeBron James and Maverick Carter’s The SpringHill Company on three new documentaries and the arrival of 300 episodes of lifestyle content from Rachael Ray and Intentional Content’s Free Food Studios.

The Reconstruction podcast comes from the Obamas’ Higher Ground Audio, along with Malcolm Gladwell’s Pushkin Industries and Audible. The eight-part untitled podcast explores the history and legacy of America’s Reconstruction Era, focusing on the period from 1863 to 1873.

The Jeter-produced series History’s Greatest Warriors introduces viewers to a legendary fighter – from Samurai, Spartans, Delta Force, Navy SEALS, Vikings, highlighting the selection, training, weaponry, and combat expertise they used. Jeter is also behind The Icons that Built America.” From CAP 2 Productions and Blackfin, a division of Lionsgate’s Alternative Television group, the series centers on “the innovators, trailblazers, and risk-takers who pushed boundaries and redefined what it means to be a performer,” per the official logline. Subjects in the seven-episode series include daredevil Evel Knievel, martial artist and actor Bruce Lee, comedian Richard Pryor, radio host Howard Stern and hip-hop group N.W.A.

The UnXplored with Danny Trejo (working title) is an 8-part series seeks to unearth “what the human eye cannot easily detect, as objects, structures and creatures concealed under earth, ice and water are suddenly, and sometimes accidentally, revealed,” History says. “From ancient animals uncovered as permafrost melts to excavations that make international headlines, each episode explains the significance of these discoveries and offers surprising information.”

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