‘The Americas’ Teases Continent’s ‘Deepest Canyons and A-List Animals’

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The producing team behind Tom Hanks’ upcoming wildlife documentary series “The Americas” prepped for five years and made 180 expeditions to deliver the 10-episode show (an eleventh episode will be a “behind-the-scenes” showcasing how the series was made, from flying drones above black bears on a clifftop to diving with blue whales).
For Universal Television Alternative Studios (UTAS), who are co-producing the series with BBC Studios’ Natural History Unit, “The Americas” represents a big swing: it’s the first time the network is entering the wildlife documentary series space and, according to UTAS president Toby Gorman, the show is also the most expensive unscripted project in NBCUniversal’s history.
“We were collectively starting to internally discuss whether this is a genre we wanted to enter,” Gorman recalls during a panel previewing the series at MIP TV in Cannes. When Mike Gunton, creative director of BBC Studios Factual, happened to knock on Gorman’s door, it felt like “kismet.”
Gunton was proposing a “full job” on one of the few areas of the planet that had never been fully explored on film: the North and South American continents. “We had never thought about doing it in our back yard and that’s what was so special about the concept Mike brought to us,” says Gorman.
For Gunton it’s the scale of the landmass that made “The Americas” “such an exciting opportunity.” “There’s nowhere on earth which has this range,” he explains. “Its head is almost in the Arctic and its toes are almost in the Antarctic. It splits the two greatest oceans on the planet, the Atlantic and the Pacific. And it crosses every longtitude: the tropics and the equator, deserts, ice caps — you can’t imagine anything more diverse.”
“It’s all about superlatives,” Gunton adds. “They haven’t got elephants but that’s about it. It’s got the biggest trees, biggest rivers, deepest canyons and it’s got A-list animals of an extraordinary nature. So it was just a dream to do it.”
As well as the A-list animals there is also an A-list creative team, with Tom Hanks (described by Gunton and Gorman as the U.S. version of British natural history icon David Attenborough) lending his voice to the narration and legendary composer Hans Zimmer working on the score. The series is set to hit U.S. screen in 2025 on NBC while international buyers are also circling.
When “The Americas” eventually airs, it will be unlike anything TV audiences have previously seen on the small screen in this genre. “We knew it had to be entertainment first,” Gorman says. “It had to have comedy, it had to have emotion; it had to feel like a mini movie.”

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