New Michael Crichton Book Already in Works as Nat Geo TV Series

Michael Crichton - H 2015
AP Images

Michael Crichton - H 2015

Well, that was fast. Just two days after HarperCollins set a new Michael Crichton novel for 2017 release, National Geographic Channel announced that it is developing the book as a limited series.

It's one of several new projects the cable network revealed Saturday. Nat Geo is currently on a spending spree to lure top talent, and the list of names attached to these new efforts reflects that. Leonardo DiCaprio, Martin Scorsese, Katie Couric and Kathryn Bigelow also are producing projects for the global brand.

The Crichton series is an adaptation of Dragon Teeth, the late writer's third posthumous publication since his death in 2008. It was discovered by his wife Sherri, who described it as "pure Crichton," and follows a 1878 race in the American West between rival paleontologists on the hunt for dinosaur bones. Amblin Television, Sony Pictures Television and CrichtonSun are attached to produce, with Graham Yost and Bruce C. McKenna penning the script.

“Given Michael’s history with Amblin, and his love of science, I am delighted to have found the perfect home for Dragon Teeth at Nat Geo,” said Sherri Crichton. “Dragon Teeth was a very important book for Michael and is another example of his immense talent and versatility as a writer and his appreciation and understanding of a great page in the history of paleontology.”

Should it go forward, Dragon Teeth is being eyed for a global launch — much as the network is doing with forthcoming scripted efforts Mars, Genius and recently ordered The Long Road Home.

The rest of Nat Geo's news on Saturday, announced ahead of its presentation at the Television Critics Association's summer press tour, focuses on documentary fare.

Gender Revolution (working title) marks the network's first partnership with Katie Couric Media, which will produce alongside in-house National Geographic Studios. Couric is producing and narrating the two-hour film that will examine the roles of genetics, brain chemistry and modern culture on gender fluidity.

"It seems that every day, there's a new story and a new vocabulary around gender that's challenging our long-held attitudes and preconceptions about what makes us who we are,” said Couric. “Gender Revolution will go beyond the headlines to examine the why, the how and what it all means, with intimate stories of the people who are at the forefront of this new frontier. We'll also explore how it's impacting almost every aspect of our lives, from bathrooms to boardrooms, and from colleges to competitive sports. Think of it this way: This will be everything you wanted to know about gender but were afraid to ask."

Nat Geo also has acquired worldwide rights to Fisher Stevens and DiCaprio's untitled climate change feature documentary. Scorsese executive produced and Brett Ratner, James Packer, Jennifer Davisson and Trevor David join Stevens and DiCaprio as producers.

It will get an interesting rollout for the network, debuting theatrically in New York and Los Angeles in October and premiering on-air before the November U.S. presidential election. “National Geographic has a long history of inspiring others to care about the planet,” said National Geographic Global Networks CEO Courteney Monroe. “Now, in the midst of the undeniable crisis that is climate change, we have a responsibility to inspire others to act. I have no doubt that the global reach of our brand, combined with DiCaprio’s passion for this issue and Fisher’s compelling storytelling, will bring this critical issue to the forefront like never before.”

The last piece of news might be the most unconventional. Oscar winner Bigelow (The Hurt Locker ) is directing a virtual reality doc short about the rangers charged with protecting African elephants from poachers. The Protectors (also a working title) is being produced by VR house There Be Dragons and Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures.

“I can’t stress enough how we still need to do so much more to fight the devastating effects of the global illegal ivory trade, and I made this film to shine a light on the heroic park rangers who are our front line in this battle," said Bigelow. "The VR technology is a perfect way to take you into their day-to-day lives and highlight their passion and commitment to the vitally important work they do."