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Star filmmaking duo Brian Grazer and Ron Howard, under their Imagine Entertainment production banner, teamed up with National Geographic and General Electric to create the new documentary TV series Breakthrough, which focuses on technological “breakthroughs” that are being created to solve the world’s most pressing concerns.
At the Breakthrough premiere, which took place at Los Angeles’ Pacific Design Center, Howard and Grazer discussed the inspirations for the program and recruiting their colleagues to participate.
“We have learned over the years that there is real drama in science and in true stories,” explained Grazer, who acted as the program’s executive producer.
Separate from his role as executive producer, Howard also helmed a segment on aging, which he describes as something “everyone is touched by,” adding, “I felt like it was the most accessible and the most relatable and had the broadest reach.”
The two-time Oscar winner talked about his relatively new title of documentarian, saying, “I am just beginning to stick my toe into that water, but it’s a great way to tell stories that fascinate us and create a connection to the audience.” Howard is currently working on an authorized Beatles documentary of the band’s years of touring.
The Happy Days alum explained that he and Grazer intentionally recruited directors with little to no documentary experience so as to “demystify the science and make it as human as possible.”
Peter Berg, Paul Giamatti, Akiva Goldsman, Brett Ratner and Angela Bassett all took on directing responsibilities for Breakthrough, creating docs that feature everything from robotic limbs to energy harnessed from tornados.
Bassett, who was in attendance at the premiere, directed Water Apocalypse, which focuses on the ways communities and scientists are working to protect the Earth’s one percent of usable water.
“You can’t recreate water, so we have to work together to manage it and protect it,” explained the Oscar nominee. “We have to roll up our sleeves and put on our big girl pants to manage this precious resource.”
Early on, when prepping for Water Apocalypse, Bassett had decided she would approach the doc “from the human element.” The actress offered: “It is always about people and what they need and want and what they are fighting for.”
Even though each segment focuses on large issues, Grazer believes that Breakthrough is a series that will give viewers hope for the future.
He concluded: “We all want to create hope in all of these areas, so it was about orientating people to these problems and showing audiences how they can participate in the solutions.”
Breakthrough kicks off on Nov. 1 with Berg’s Fighting Pandemics on the National Geographic Chanel.
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