It's a turning point for History

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The History Channel has greenlighted a diverse slate of five new weekly primetime series, marking the first slate announcement made by Nancy Dubuc since she became head of the network in January.

The slate of series, which are in production for a 2007 or 2008 premiere, features a range of topics, including Alaskan survival techniques, globe-trotting martial-arts adventures, prehistoric dinosaur battles and the edge of the unknown in the universe.

Dubuc, a former A&E executive who serves as executive vp and GM of History, said she was looking for diversity in greenlighting her first slate. She added that it doesn't mark a "radical new direction" but does indicate a "bit of a shift in personality."

"Where I see the biggest departure for us is in the breadth and variety of what we're putting out there as a new slate," Dubuc said. "This is an opportunity to dimensionalize history for viewers, to bring a sense of drama and intensity and energy in the way that we tell our stories."

The new series are:

  "Ice Road Truckers" centers on a group of long-haul truckers in northernmost North America who race against time as they carry mined raw materials over hundreds of miles of thinning ice roads cut across the surface of frozen lakes (eight episodes).

"This is tailor-made for our audience; we touched on this topic in our successful series 'Modern Marvels,' " Dubuc said. "It's a tradition that has been passed down from generation to generation, and this show will give a glimpse into a wild frontier that you don't typically get to see on the History Channel."

  "The Universe" uses computer graphics to explore the universe, showing what life would be like on other planets and imagining what kind of life forms might evolve in alien atmospheres. Episodes also examine how discoveries in space were made and the scientists and explorers who ventured into the universe's uncharted territory (13 episodes).

"The universe may seem different for us in the sense of taking a science approach, but really this is the beginning of history," Dubuc said. "This is a big undertaking for us."

  "Tougher in Alaska" aims to show how hard it is to live in the Last Frontier. The series shows how -- both historically and today -- people have learned to overcome challenges brought on by extreme cold and isolation (13 episodes).

  "Human Weapon" centers on mixed martial arts, featuring masters in martial arts and showing how different nations gave birth to those arts (13 episodes).

  "Jurassic Fight Club" spotlights battles between prehistoric beasts, giving insight into how the animals used quick thinking and maneuverability in those fights (10 episodes).

"The technology to be able to produce these kinds of shows once reserved for epic special events has evolved enough to be able to do this on a weekly basis," Dubuc said. "It's like we'll be putting out epic specials every week."

History.com will showcase each series with exclusive destination minisites featuring interactive broadband and shortform content, games, video logs, timelines and more.

For History, Dolores Gavin is executive producer for "Truckers" and "Jurassic," Beth Dietrich Segarra for "Universe" and Marc Etkind for "Alaska" and "Weapon."
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