Ebola Drama Series From Scott Free Set as Nat Geo Grows Scripted Roster (Exclusive)

THE HOT ZONE by Richard Preston, split with image of Ridley Scott-H 2018
Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images; Courtesy of Penguin Random House

National Geographic continues to expand its scripted footprint.

The cable network, a joint venture between National Geographic and Fox, has handed out a series order for The Hot Zone, a scripted drama exploring the Ebola crisis. Additionally, Nat Geo has put two more scripted dramas in development: secret service drama The White House Detail and Syria war drama Ten Borders. Those join the previously announced Hidden Figures reboot as the Courteney Monroe-led cabler looks to build on the success of scripted anthology Genius.

The Hot Zone is based on the best-seller by Richard Preston and recounts the true story of the origins of the Ebola virus from the central African rain forest and its arrival in the U.S. The series hails from Lynda Obst Productions, Fox 21 Television Studios, Kelly Souders, Brian Peterson, Jeff Vintar and Ridley Scott's Scott Free banner. A cast, premiere date and episode count have not yet been determined. 

On the development side, The White House Detail hails from The Strain's Chuck Hogan, Platinum Dunes, Elyse Klaits and co-authors/consultants Clint Hill and Lisa McCubbin. The drama is described as an unprecedented insider's look at the personal and professional lives of U.S. Secret Service agents assigned to protect the first family, starting with the 1960 election of John F. Kennedy. It's based on the firsthand account of the service's most iconic agent, Hill, who served under five presidents and is best known for leaping onto the back of JFK's limo during the assassination in Dallas. It's based on Hill and McCubbin's New York Times best-seller Five Presidents.

Ten Borders, a studio buy from Paramount Television, is a six-part limited series that revolves around five unrelated people who are pulled into one another's lives through the mass exodus of humanity from war-torn Syria to the safe refuge of Sweden. Tom McCarthy (13 Reasons Why, Spotlight) will exec produce via his overall deal with Paramount Television. Scott Free Productions also exec produces the drama, which will be told through multiple POV.

The Hot Zone joins a growing roster of scripted fare at Nat Geo — which could soon become a Disney property should regulators approve the $52.4 billion deal — that includes the upcoming second season of Emmy-nominated anthology Genius (which returns next week) and the upcoming tech drama Valley of the Boom, starring Bradley Whitford, Steve Zahn and Lamorne Morris. The announcements come ahead of Nat Geo's "Further Front" upfront presentation Wednesday in New York.

"The incredible audience response to our scripted programming, including award nominations for Genius and the overwhelming critical praise and Critics Choice Award nomination for The Long Road Home, have emboldened our scripted strategy," said Monroe, CEO of National Geographic Global Networks. "We've proven we can make noise in a crowded marketplace by utilizing the premium power of the National Geographic brand and working with the right talent."