'Biography' Revival Ordered by A+E Networks

Upcoming subjects include Biggie Smalls, Vladimir Putin, Elizabeth Smart and Mike Tyson.
Dustin Aksland

A+E Networks is reviving another unscripted hit.

The award-winning Biography franchise is being revived with an order for more than 40 hours of programming, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed.

After five years off the air, Biography will return this spring with a new look and feel, and with a new emphasis on digital content including videos and photos. For the first time, the Biography franchise will air across the various A+E Networks. 

Upcoming Biography titles include the two-hour projects The Notorious Life of Biggie Smalls for A&E, The End of America: Putin's Master Plan on History and David Koresh and the Siege of Waco for A&E.

Biography will also expand into miniseries with Who Killed Tupac?, a six-hour telecast for A&E; and Gotti & Son, a four-hour broadcast for A&E.

“Groundbreaking nonfiction programming has always been a cornerstone of A+E Networks, dating back to the earliest days of the multiple Emmy Award-winning series Biography,” said  A&E and Lifetime executive vp and general manager Rob Sharenow. “A+E’s new incarnation of the gold standard in the industry will focus on the most meaningful moments in our culture from some of the most accomplished nonfiction storytellers of our time.”

 

Biography dates back to 1961, when each half-hour episode was narrated by 60 Minutes' Mike Wallace. That version ran until 1963, before a brief revival aired on CBS in 1979. A&E revived the docuseries in 1987. That version went on to garner two Emmys and spawned several popular cable docuseries (Behind the Music, E's True Hollywood Story) as well as its own network, The Biography Channel. The channel, however, was replaced by FYI in 2014.

Biography is one of two unscripted reboots at A+E Networks. A&E is also bringing back the true crime docuseries Cold Case Files, with new narrator Danny Glover. Reality reboots have become popular on the broadcast side, with ABC's game show block of Match Game, To Tell the Truth and $100,000 Pyramid and Fox's upcoming Love Connection revival, among others.

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