Nat Geo Orders Kal Penn Series 'Mapology,' New Sept. 11 Documentary

Newly minted CEO Courteney Monroe meets the TCA with two new projects for the channel and its many international extensions.

Less than two months after taking over National Geographic Channels as its new CEO, Courteney Monroe made her first appearance onstage at the Television Critics Association's summer press tour. She took the opportunity to announce one new series and a two-hour special.

Actor Kal Penn headlines the latest show, set to debut in spring 2015. Mapology (working title), a National Geographic Studios production, doesn't have a specific episode order yet. It will feature Penn as host and producer, will map data on a variety of topics — money, sex, food, sports, crime, weather, animal migrations — and how they influence people's daily lives.

“I’m excited to be the viewer’s gateway to cartography and statistics,” said Penn. “National Geographic has a legacy of transporting people to amazing places and with Mapology, we’re going to establish connections made through statistics and data, and reveal how the bigger picture affects the real world, throughout history, across societies and into our hearts and brains.”

“We continue to develop new series that demonstrate our commitment to producing cool, smart programming that is fun, entertaining and accessible,” added Monroe. “With Mapology, we’re stripping down the layers of the world to discover hidden connections that will enhance our audience’s views of what’s really happening, not only the world at large, but in their small world. And we’re thrilled to have Kal, not only as a credited producer, but also the driving force in the storytelling.” 

As for the first documentary to come out of the Monroe era of Nat Geo, 9/10: The Final Hours takes a look at the day before Sept. 11, 2011, when terrorist Mohamed Atta took a detour to Portland, Maine, before the deadly attacks. The special will feature interviews with the men and women who saw him, as well as those who narrowly missed working in the World Trade Center the day the towers fell. It will air Sept. 7.

Monroe, a former HBO marketing exec who moved to Nat Geo in 2011, recently assumed the leadership of the channels with new chairman David Hill following the abrupt exits of David Lyle and Howard T. Owens.