PBS and Smithsonian Channel™ to Unveil the Extraordinary Evolution of Iconic Animals in WHEN WHALES WALKED: A DEEP TIME JOURNEY (w.t)

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New Production Partnership Launches with Two-Hour Special to Premiere This Summer

Film Aligned with Opening of the Smithsonian’s New Deep Time Hall at the National Museum of Natural History


PASADENA, CA; February 1, 2019 -- Today at the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour, PBS and Smithsonian Channel announced their partnership on a two-hour film tracing the evolutionary secrets of some of the world’s most majestic creatures. The program will take viewers on a global adventure to uncover the amazing origin stories of some intriguing animals, from crocodiles and birds to whales and elephants. Featuring top scientists from around the world as they follow clues from the fossil record, WHEN WHALES WALKED: A DEEP TIME JOURNEY (w.t) changes what we thought we knew about the evolution of iconic beasts. 

WHEN WHALES WALKED: A DEEP TIME JOURNEY (w.t) dives deep into the fascinating origins of some of the world’s most incredible creatures,” said Bill Gardner, Vice President, PBS Programming & Development. “By exploring the latest scientific discoveries, we bring millions of years of natural history alive in some very unexpected ways. We’re thrilled to partner with the Smithsonian Channel and Institution to showcase these spectacular new breakthroughs in evolutionary history.”

“When we marvel at the wonders of the natural world, like an elephant’s trunk or the size of a blue whale, we rarely ask, ‘Where did that come from?’ It turns out, scientists are finding some truly extraordinary answers,” said Charles Poe, SVP of Production, Smithsonian Channel. “This film will introduce our viewers to the surprising ancestors of animals we know and love. We’re very excited to be launching our first partnership with PBS to take viewers on an utterly unique journey to the deep past.”

The film will showcase a dynamic group of scientists making major discoveries in China, Kenya, Argentina and other locations around the world. It will integrate highly creative 3-D graphics and CGI to recreate vanished creatures and their world.

WHEN WHALES WALKED: A DEEP TIME JOURNEY (w.t) takes us to the frontiers of science,” said Michael Rosenfeld, Vice President of National Production for Twin Cities PBS, who originated the project. “It shows how researchers are using not just paleontology, but genetics, climate science and ecology to fill in the gaps in the story of life. And it’s not just a story of the past—these discoveries carry important lessons for today and even the future.”

WHEN WHALES WALKED: A DEEP TIME JOURNEY (w.t) is a major initiative in collaboration with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, which will open the David H. Koch Hall of Fossils – Deep Time on June 8, 2019.  The project will feature an extensive educational outreach program produced by the National Museum of Natural History and shared with affiliated science museums around the country. Major funding for Lineage is provided by The National Science Foundation.

The National Museum of Natural History is leading a nationwide outreach project for WHEN WHALES WALKED: A DEEP TIME JOURNEY (w.t). Three museums and their partner organizations in communities nationwide will implement Family Fossil Festivals which employ the WHEN WHALES WALKED: A DEEP TIME JOURNEY (w.t) film, a virtual reality game and standards-based activities. PBS stations in these communities, which will be announced in late spring, will be invited to collaborate with the participating museums. Additionally, educational outreach professionals at PBS stations nationwide will be encouraged to access the Lineage activities on 3d.si.edu and videos on PBS Learning Media, and employ them in their own community-based STEM initiatives.

WHEN WHALES WALKED: A DEEP TIME JOURNEY (w.t) is produced by Twin Cities PBS and Shining Red Productions for PBS and Smithsonian Channel. Michael Rosenfeld is executive producer for Twin Cities PBS. Bill Gardner is executive in charge for PBS. Executive producers for Smithsonian Channel are Charles Poe and David Royle.


About Smithsonian Channel
Smithsonian Channel™, owned by Smithsonian Networks™, a joint venture between Showtime Networks Inc. and the Smithsonian Institution, is where curiosity lives, inspiration strikes and wonders never cease. This is the place for awe-inspiring stories, powerful documentaries and amazing factual entertainment, available in HD and 4K Ultra HD across multiple platforms. Smithsonian Channel, winner of Emmy® and Peabody awards for its programming, combines the storytelling prowess of SHOWTIME® with the unmatched resources and rich traditions of the Smithsonian, to create programming that shines new light on popular genres such as air and space, travel, history, science, nature and pop culture. Among the network’s offerings are series including Aerial America, America in Color, The Lost Tapes, Mighty Ships, Million Dollar American Princesses, The Pacific War in Color and Air Disasters, as well as critically-acclaimed specials that include The Coronation, The Mountain Lion and Me, Earth from Outer Space and Titanoboa: Monster Snake. Smithsonian Networks also operates Smithsonian Channel Plus™, a subscription video streaming service delivering over a thousand hours of the Channel’s stunning and diverse library of documentaries and series in HD and 4K Ultra HD. Smithsonian Channel is also available internationally in Canada, Singapore and Latin America. To learn more, go to www.smithsonianchannel.com, or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. 


About Twin Cities PBS
Twin Cities PBS, the PBS affiliate for Minneapolis/St. Paul, is a prominent content producer for the national public television system. TPT’s most recent documentaries for PBS include Going to War and The Dictator’s Playbook. Other films include the Emmy Award-winning The Forgetting: A Portrait of Alzheimer’s, Peabody Award recipient Depression: Out of the Shadows, and 2012 Sundance Film Festival selection Slavery by Another Name. TPT co-produced the classic feature documentary Hoop Dreams, a Peabody and Sundance Film Festival winner. More information at www.tpt.org/national.


About The National Science Foundation
The National Science Foundation is an independent federal agency that supports education and research across all fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).  In addition to providing major support for SciGirls, the NSF supports other science and math programs on PBS and pbskids.org, including DragonflyTV, Peg + Cat, Design Squad Nation and Plum Landing.  Visit here for more information on NSF activities.


About the National Museum of Natural History
The National Museum of Natural History is connecting people everywhere with Earth’s unfolding story. The museum is one of the most visited natural history museums in the world. Opened in 1910, the museum is dedicated to maintaining and preserving the world’s most extensive collection of natural history specimens and human artifacts. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (closed Dec. 25). Admission is free. For more information, visit the museum on its website and on Facebook and Twitter.


About PBS
PBS, with nearly 350 member stations, offers all Americans the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television and digital content. Each month, PBS reaches over 90 million people through television and 30 million people online, inviting them to experience the worlds of science, history, nature and public affairs; to hear diverse viewpoints; and to take front row seats to world-class drama and performances. PBS’ broad array of programs has been consistently honored by the industry’s most coveted award competitions. Teachers of children from pre-K through 12th grade turn to PBS for digital content and services that help bring classroom lessons to life. Decades of research confirms that PBS’ premier children’s media service, PBS KIDS, helps children build critical literacy, math and social-emotional skills, enabling them to find success in school and life. Delivered through member stations, PBS KIDS offers high-quality educational content on TV – including a 24/7 channel, online at pbskids.org, via an array of mobile apps and in communities across America. More information about PBS is available at www.pbs.org, one of the leading dot-org websites on the internet, or by following PBS on TwitterFacebook or through our apps for mobile and connected devices. Specific program information and updates for press are available at pbs.org/pressroom or by following PBS Pressroom on Twitter.




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