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Olbermann Gets Company at Current: Docs, Nature, Smoke Jumpers

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Today, in a presentation conveniently following Keith Olbermann’s decision to join the network, Current TV announced a slate of new programming for the year 2011. It’s not the new, complementary news-and-views programming that (one assumes) new star and news chief Olbermann will recruit to air along with his primetime show. That will presumably come eventually; for now, there are documentaries, a special about weather control and a series on fire-fighting “smoke jumpers,” for those of you who want the back story on that Vinny Chase movie from Entourage.

But it’s something—and check my archives, do you think I did a post on their new lineup last year, when Keith Olbermann didn’t join Current? Right, so the guy’s paying for himself already. After the jump, excerpts from the announcement:

NEW SPECIAL:
Man Vs. Earth (2011 Original One Hour Special)
Premieres: April 2011
Catastrophic weather and geological events have devastating effects on the planet and its inhabitants—but what if humans could control Mother Nature? In this one-hour special, explorer Sam Branson investigates the cutting-edge tactics scientists are using not only to predict, but prevent natural disasters, from diverting hurricanes to quelling volcanoes. Ever the adventurer, Branson puts those methods to the test himself in large-scale experiments that test man’s ability to command the world he inhabits. Produced by Zig Zag Production in association with Current Sponge.

NEW SERIES:
50 Greatest Documentaries (2011 Original Series)
Premieres: 3Q 2011
Five one-hour episodes
Celebrates one of the most powerful storytelling mediums of our time: the documentary. From intimate personal journeys to overwhelming global issues, 50 Greatest Documentaries counts down the fearless films that have helped shape the way we see our world over the last 30 years. From the Oscar-winning international call to action of An Inconvenient Truth to the daringly clever expose of fast food in SuperSize Me! That caused salads to spring up on drive-thru menus across the country, real cinema can do more than entertain and inform – it can inspire real change. Paired with full-length presentations of many of the featured films. Current TV’s original series will shine a light on this boundary-breaking genre, with the stories behind the titles, interviews with filmmakers, their subjects and their famous fans. There’s also the opportunity for viewers to discuss the shortlist and see extended interviews with the filmmakers at Current.com, and to watch the films in full via our partner’s VOD services.

Headlines That Shocked America (2011 Original Series)
Premieres: 3Q 2011
Five one-hour episodes
Where were you when the world stood still? Current TV looks back at the most extraordinary news events of the past twenty years in the new five-part series Headlines That Shocked America, blending unforgettable archive footage with fresh perspectives from the journalists and news anchors who reported the stories as they unfolded. From terrorist attacks to natural disasters to celebrity sex scandals, you’ll relive the electrifying moments that left America glued to its collective television.

Smoke Jumpers (2011 Original Series)
Premieres: 4Q 2011
Six one-hour episodes
The Missoula “Smoke Jumpers” is a series filmed in the Northern Rockies at fire season’s
flaming peak. They fly to forest fires with Missoula’s elite team – the Special Forces of wildfire fighting — jumping fires by day and relaxing as bros when the flames die down. They don’t just fight fire, they live with fire and manage it. We train with the smoke jumpers on their base and live with them in their camps in the burning woods. And with unprecedented access, the series films the smoke jumping fraternity at a turning point in its history – with many of the legendary Old Salts ready to jump their last fires and retire, and the new generation of smoke jumpers taking the lead. The series is executive produced by Justin Wilkes, Jon Kamen, and Robert Friedman, @radical.media; and Norman Green, Olive Eye Films.

PREVIOUSLY ANNOUNCED NEW SERIES:

Bar Karma (2011 Original Series)
Premieres: Friday, February 11th at 10:00 PM ET/9:00 PM Central
12 half-hour episodes
“Bar Karma” is the world’s first community-developed television series. The brainchild of The Sims/Sims City creator Will Wright and Worldwide Biggies’ CEO, Albie Hecht (Nick, Spike TV) for Current TV, the series is the first that lets fans inform the outcome of a scripted TV series – before it airs. Bar Karma invites a community of fans to drive the show’s content – from story lines to art direction, soundtrack to brand integrations. Set at a mystical watering hole at the edge of the universe, “Bar Karma” is a half-hour show which stars William Sanderson (“True Blood,” “Lost,” “Deadwood”) as James, the 20,000 year-old bartender, Matthew Humphreys (“Obsessed,” “Big Love,” “The Forgotten”) as bar owner Doug Jones, and Cassie Howarth (“Deranged High,” “Deathclock”) as the lone waitress, Dayna. The series answers the age-old question: “What would happen if you could change your fate?” Set in a time traveling bar owned and operated by members of the mysterious organization Karma, Inc., each weekly episode follows a new bar patron as they enter at happy hour and must make a life-changing…and possibly world-saving …decision.

4th and Forever (2011 Original Series)
Premiere: Sunday, April 3rd 2011 at 10:00 PM ET/9:00 PM Central
Nine half-hour episodes
This docu-series chronicles the 2010 Long Beach Polytechnic High School football team – touted by Sports Illustrated as the “Sports School of the Century.” Executive produced by Brian Graden and Lois Curren, Brian Graden Productions; Stephen Land, Jupiter Entertainment, Inc.; Michael Hughes, DLP Entertainment; and Clint Stinchcomb, Global Content Partners, the series documents the trials and tribulations of the promising team helmed by Head Football Coach Raul Lara, whose nearly 20 years of coaching experience at Long Beach Poly has included 100 wins in nine seasons as Poly’s Head Coach entering the 2010 season. Poly’s historic program also boasts the largest roster of high school players who have gone on to the NFL.
“4th and Forever” is shot entirely on location in Long Beach, California and throughout Southern California and will explore how the team is a point of pride for a community that struggles with poverty, drugs, and gangs. For Coach Lara, whose full-time job is working the graveyard shift as a Deputy Probation Officer, he and his program provide its players a way out; everyone is pushing ahead for that “golden ticket” – a college scholarship and a better life. After decades of success, Poly had a down year in 2009. They had their worst season in 15 years and lost to local rival Lakewood for the first time in over 25 years. The community is frustrated with the current coaches and, after years of being pegged as “the team to beat,” the aura of invincibility is gone. The players are worried that their hopes for a college scholarship have dimmed. The clock is ticking and the question is: Can the team pull it together for one more season of greatness? And, can the players avoid the temptations of the street, succeed in the classroom, and emerge victorious on the field?
This American Life (Basic Cable Premiere)
Mondays at 10:00 PM/9:00 PM Central
The televised version of the award-winning Public Radio Show hosted and executive produced by Ira Glass, “This American Life” tells compelling, unscripted first-person stories culled from across America. For the TV show, which premiered January 2011, Glass and a small team of radio producers and filmmakers traveled the country visiting Iowa pig farms, following a first-time filmmaker in California, photographing a raucous night at an Illinois hot dog stand and more. The results are true stories that are dramatic, emotional, and often hilarious.

RETURNING SERIES:
Vanguard (Original Series)
Sundays at 10:00 PM ET/9:00 PM Central (New season premieres May 2011)

Launched in 2008, “Vanguard” has become one of the only multi-award winning long-form investigative documentary series on cable television. Its programming has showcased and provided in-depth perspectives on notable issues such as immigration, the drug trade and the environment. The one hour series has become one of the most celebrated news programs in the United States, receiving prestigious awards for journalism including the Livingston Award, the Prism Award, the Dupont Award and, most recently, the 2010 Peabody Award and the 2010 Television Academy Honor. “Vanguard” was created to offer a fresh approach to journalism. Striving to be more than ‘talking heads’ and with commitments to travelling to locations around the world, its correspondents, Adam Yamaguchi, Christof Putzel, Mariana van Zeller, and Kaj Larsen, provide in-depth exploration that showcases issues of large social significance.

infoMania (Original Series)
Thursdays at 11:00 PM ET/10:00 PM Central
infoMania is a half-hour comedy show that airs weekly on Current TV. Picture the ultimate office water-cooler, only with funnier co-workers who willingly stay up late imbibing all forms of media so you don’t have to. Caveat: Bring your own water. Hosted by Brett Erlich and co-starring Sergio Cilli, Erin Gibson, Ben Hoffman and Bryan Safi.

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