Web series, Lucas docus are History

5:00 AM PST 04/30/2007 by Kimberly Nordyke, AP

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The History Channel is launching five original series on its Web site and has acquired a collection of historical documentaries from George Lucas based on his "The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones."

The network, which makes its upfront presentation to advertisers Tuesday in New York, has acquired the rights to a collection of 94 never-before-seen docus that are a companion to the "Young Indiana Jones" TV movies. The docus, created and executive produced by Lucas, are based on events that took place during the early part of the 20th century and provide context to the fictional adventures of the young Jones. Topics range from the history of slavery to biographies of Al Capone and Ernest Hemingway.

"The association with George Lucas and his passion for history is one we embraced with open arms," said Nancy Dubuc, executive vp and GM of the History Channel. "We really believe in his mission to help future generations find different ways to learn about history."

The docus will premiere on History.com in late 2007 and also will air on History International and History Classroom. The "Jones" TV movies will air on the History Channel and History International.

Also getting launched at History.com are a series featuring video taken by soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, another based on the "Greatest Stories Never Told" books by Rick Beyer and another on the history of legendary ships.

Dubuc said the digital slate marks the "biggest announcement we have made in the digital arena, and it won't be last."

"I think History.com is going to be a big initiative for us moving forward," she said. "(But) our online offerings cannot just be regurgitated on-air material; we all know that's not going to work in the long run."

The new digital series:

"Band of Bloggers" features raw video taken by soldiers from the battlefield (premiering in the third quarter).

"Hero Ships" focuses on big moments in legendary ships' history (fourth quarter).

"History Uncut" spotlights major moments in history "unedited and unfiltered," including the Wright brothers' first flight attempt and the scene after President Reagan was shot in 1981 (second quarter).

"The Naked Underground," an offshoot of History's new on-air series "Cities of the Underworld, explores an urban myth linked to a particular city (second quarter).

"Greatest Stories Never Told" tells little-known stories from history that have a surprise twist (fourth quarter).

The History Channel also is developing six specials, four of which are set to air in the fourth quarter: "A Global Warning," focusing on global warming; "Stalking Jihad," based on the upcoming book "Stalking Jihad in Paradise" by Mark Bowden ("Black Hawk Down") about a CIA mission to track down Islamic terrorists in the Philippines; "Lost Book of Nostradamus," an exclusive investigation into how a manuscript believed to have been written by Nostradamus ended up in Italy's National Library in Rome; and "Manhunt," centering on the 12-day hunt for John Wilkes Booth after he assassinated President Lincoln.

Other specials include the tentatively titled "Egypt Project," focusing on the accomplishments of the pharaoh Radjedef, son of Khufu, who built the Great Pyramids of Giza. It premieres in the first quarter. "China's First Emperor," which marks China Central Television's first major co-production with an American network, debuts in third-quarter 2008.
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