11:58am PT by Lesley Goldberg
National Geographic Sets Documentary of Costa Concordia Tragedy (Exclusive)
Continuing to push into original programming under new president Howard T. Owens, National Geographic Channel will turn its lens on downed Italian cruise liner Costa Concordia.
The cable network will explore the disaster, in which the luxury liner carrying more than 4,200 passengers ran aground off the western coast of Italy, killing 17 and injuring more than 60 others with 15 still unaccounted for.
Set to premiere Sunday, Feb. 12, at 7 p.m., with an encore on Monday, Feb. 13, at 10 p.m., Nat Geo's Italian Cruise Ship Disaster: The Untold Stories will weave accounts of the tragedy from passengers, crew members and the Coast Guard and feature never-before-seen video and CGI to reconstruct the ship's sinking as it happened.
The documentary also will compare the Costa Concordia to the Titanic and look at just how the ship sank and whether or not the disaster could have been prevented.
The ship ran aground Jan. 13 after coming too close to the Italian mainland and colliding with rocks, which tore a 160-foot gash in the liner.
The project comes four months after Owens took over at the top of National Geographic Channel and speaks to his effort to expand original programming at the cable network. The Costa Concordia doc follows plans for a TV movie based on Bill O'Reilly's Killing Lincoln as well as two unscripted series, Thom Beers' Are You Tougher Than a Boy Scout? and Craig Piligian's Wicked Tuna, all part of Owens' bid to expand the net's reach.
Dragonfly TV's Alison Turner, Simon Dickson and Mark Roberts will produce the doc for Nat Geo; Martin Pupp is the edit producer; and the project will be produced and directed by Marc Tiley and Paul O'Connor. Michael Welsh and exec vp programming Michael Cascio will executive produce for Nat Geo.
Italian Cruise Ship Disaster becomes the second doc — and the first to air in the U.S. — to turn its lens on the Costa Concordia. Discovery Channel announced a week after the disaster that it would dissect the liner's sinking in a spring special that will see crews covering the teams charged with figuring out how to salvage the vessel that's larger than the Titanic.