PBS Announces New 3-Part Series "Guns, Germs And Steel"

Posted by PBS Publicity on



Los Angeles, CA; July 8, 2004 - PBS and National Geographic Television & Film will bring author and scholar Jared Diamond's sometimes controversial theories about the course of human civilization to the screen in GUNS, GERMS AND STEEL, a new three-part television series produced exclusively for PBS. Diamond's Pulitzer Prize-winning work offers a revealing look at the rise and fall of societies through the lens of geography, technology, biology and economics - forces symbolized by the power of guns, germs and steel.

The production spans five continents and uses epic historical reenactments to illustrate Diamond's theories, explaining why societies developed differently in different parts of the world - why some became conquerors and others the conquered.

"PBS has a proud tradition of bringing television audiences the epic stories of civilization," said John F. Wilson, sr. vice president, PBS programming. "Jared Diamond's compelling work, brought to life by National Geographic and Lion Television, will give us yet another prism to understand the complex and fascinating forces that have shaped human existence."

The series uses a widescreen format and features footage from across the globe: Jordan, Peru, Spain, Zambia, South Africa, Papua New Guinea, the United Kingdom and the United States. It features interviews with scholars, archaeologists, geneticists, biologists, historians and anthropologists from several continents. Through extensive research and innovative production techniques, the filmmakers pull the viewer into experiencing firsthand the ideas in the book.

The series is organized into three one-hour parts. The first, "The Crucible of Civilization," examines how a society's potential for advanced development was not determined by race or creed, or by time and experience, but by geography and access to domesticated animals and cultivated plants. Part two, "The Clash of Civilizations" explores the impact of weapons and disease in shaping the course of history. Part three, "The Haves and Have-nots," looks at the world of today to see whether geography is still a factor in forming the divide between those with money and resources and those with neither.

Michael Rosenfeld, executive producer and senior vice president for specials and event programming at National Geographic Television & Film, is overseeing the project. The series is produced for National Geographic by UK-based Lion Television, Ltd., which has made award-winning programming for PBS and internationally, including the Emmy-nominated EGYPT'S GOLDEN EMPIRE, MEDICI: GODFATHERS OF THE RENAISSANCE and THE GREEKS: CRUCIBLE OF CIVILIZATION.

"This series takes Jared Diamond's key insight - geography as destiny - and explores it through images of science, history and discovery around the world. This was an ideal challenge for National Geographic Television & Film. It is 13,000 years of history condensed into an amazing three hours of television. But the series also goes beyond the book and brings its ideas into the present day," says Michael Rosenfeld, executive producer.
GUNS, GERMS AND STEEL is funded by Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, Corporation for Public Broadcasting and PBS.

Building on its global reputation for remarkable visuals and compelling stories, National Geographic Television & Film augments its award-winning documentary productions (122 Emmy Awards and more than 900 other industry awards) with feature films, giant-screen films, kids' programming and long-form television drama programming. Worldwide, National Geographic's television programming can be seen on the National Geographic Channel, MSNBC and PBS, home video and DVD, and through international broadcast syndication. The National Geographic Channel is received by more than 200 million households in 25 languages in 148 countries, including the United States. For more information about National Geographic Television & Film, log on to nationalgeographic.com, AOL Keyword: NatGeo.

PBS is a private, nonprofit media enterprise that serves the nation's 349 public noncommercial television stations, reaching nearly 90 million people each week. Bringing diverse viewpoints to television and the Internet, PBS provides high-quality documentary and dramatic entertainment, and consistently dominates the most prestigious award competitions. PBS is the leading provider of educational materials for K-12 teachers, and offers a broad array of educational services for adult learners. PBS' premier kids' TV programming and Web site, PBS KIDS' Online (pbskids.org), continue to be parents' and teachers' most trusted learning environments for children. More information about PBS is available at pbs.org, the leading dot-org Web site on the Internet. PBS is headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia.


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Ellen Stanley, National Geographic
Tel.: 202/775-6755 / estanley@ngs.org

Rebecca Penovich, National Geographic
Tel.: 202/775-6163 / rpenovic@ngs.org

Carrie Johnson, PBS
Tel.: 703/739-5129 / cjohnson@pbs.org