Mike Tyson on His Pigeon Series: 'You’re Going to Find Out Some Interesting Things About Me Too'
Former boxer takes "Taking on Tyson" to TCA; Ricky Gervais sends "An Idiot Abroad," Werner Herzog interviews death row inmates for Discovery and Ridley Scott interviews "Prophets of Science" in new Science Channel series.
PASADENA – Discovery network's Animal Planet and Science Channel delivered a one-two punch at the Television Critics Association press tour Thursday with panels featuring the very different comic stylings of Mike Tyson and Ricky Gervais.
Tyson is headlining the Animal Planet series Taking on Tyson, about the boxer's lifelong dedication to raising pigeons. The six-episode series, which bows March 6, follows Tyson as he enters the world of competitive pigeon racing. But Tyson did allow that the show also would limn his personal life.
"I have a pretty colorful past so you're going to find out some interesting things about me too," said Tyson. "But the main insight is the birds and what they mean in our lives. Even though I might be out there fighting and getting locked up, this is what we do. This is no hobby."
Gervais teams with his Extras and The Office producer Stephen Merchant on An Idiot Abroad for Science Channel. Gervais and Merchant conspired to send their friend Karl Pilkington, who Gervais aptly describes as "the real-life Homer Simpson," to the seven wonders of the world and film Pilkington's brushes with foreigners.
Pilkington, Gervais' producer on his London radio show and a humorist in his own right, said he "hated" the trip, but admitted that he "did get a lot out of it."
"It was a practical joke," added Gervais. "We wanted him to hate it. There is no one quite like Karl. I treat it like I've found the missing link. Honestly, it is my gift to the world."
Gervais and company appeared at TCA via satellite from London and the five-second audio delay added to the awkward humor. Asked if he approved of the show's title – An Idiot Abroad– Pilkington explained that he hoped it would be called Karl Pilkington's World of Wonders.
He likened his friendship with Gervais as akin to owning a dog that "shits everywhere."
"People come along and they love that dog," he added. "But they don't know the ins and outs of having that dog.
"People say to me, 'Oh it must be great being mates with Ricky (long pause). But it isn't."
Additionally, Science Channel announced a new eight-episode series from director/producer Ridley Scott. Prophets of Science explores how the prescient aspects of the work of science fiction authors including Isaac Asimov, Gene Roddenberry and George Lucas inspired real world discoveries.
Also, Investigation Discovery is partnering with filmmaker Werner Herzog on his next feature documentary, Abyss of the Human Soul (also known as Death Row), in which Herzog interviews death row inmates about their rapidly expiring mortality.
The feature-length documentary is a contender for a spin-off series on ID, said Henry Schleiff, president and general manager of ID.