National Geographic announced today that “The Hot Zone,” the network’s highest-rated scripted series to date, has been greenlit for a second season, which will focus on the anthrax attacks of 2001. From Touchstone Television and Scott Free Productions, Kelly Souders and Brian Peterson return as executive producers and showrunners for this next installment.
“The gripping, propulsive story of the hunt for the anthrax killer who terrorized the country in the dark days that followed the Sept. 11 attack couldn’t be more timely,” said Carolyn Bernstein, executive vice president, Global Scripted Content and Documentary Films. “As the world battles COVID-19, another deadly and mysterious virus, “The Hot Zone: Anthrax” is a scientific thriller for our time.”
In 2001, just weeks after 9/11, the United States was rocked by another deadly act of terrorism. Letters containing anthrax were sent to unsuspecting victims in Florida, Washington, D.C. and New York. The anonymous assault claimed five lives, left 17 others sick and caused panic throughout the U.S. Despite interagency turf wars and many false leads, an unlikely team of USAMRIID scientists (The U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases and the Department of Defense’s lead research laboratory), FBI agents and Justice Department personnel slowly closed in on a shocking prime suspect.
“While many of us can recall the breaking news headlines and the widespread fear that ensued when anthrax emerged in America, there are still layers to this story that have not yet been told,” said Kelly Souders. “The second season of our anthology series will dive deep into the forensic investigation of a simple envelope that sent the entire Eastern Seaboard into a panic.”
“After a terrific collaboration with our friends at National Geographic on ‘The Hot Zone,’ we couldn’t be more excited to be back in business with the same stellar team for another season,” said David W. Zucker, president, Scott Free Television. “All of us well remember the anthrax attacks in 2001, which rocked and terrified the country. We’re eager to tell this extraordinary story of all the drama that unfolded to overcome the attacks and identify the perpetrator.”
The six-hour scientific thriller follows last year’s “The Hot Zone,” which starred Golden Globe® and Emmy® Award winner Julianna Margulies and was National Geographic’s most-watched scripted series of all time and ranked the second most-watched series on the network of all time. The May 27, 2019, Memorial Day, three-night, premiere event lifted National Geographic to the No. 5 ad-supported cable network in the target demo for the night and No. 2 among Total Viewers. Across 12 broadcasts through the May 29 finale (premieres and repeats), the series was viewed by 7.5 million people in the U.S. The original series was based on Richard Preston’s bestselling book of the same name and was inspired by the true events surrounding the origins of the Ebola virus and its arrival on U.S. soil in 1989.
“The Hot Zone: Anthrax” is the newest addition to the network’s scripted programming slate that takes groundbreaking storytelling further. This project follows National Geographic’s previously announced scripted series including highly anticipated “Genius: Aretha,” the recent premiere of “The Right Stuff” on Disney+, and critically acclaimed limited series “Barkskins,” last year’s top-rated “The Hot Zone” and previous Emmy Award-winning installments of “Genius: Einstein” and “Genius: Picasso.”
For “The Hot Zone: Anthrax,” Kelly Souders and Brian Peterson serve as executive producers and showrunners. Scott Free Production’s Ridley Scott and David W. Zucker are executive producers with Jordan Sheehan also serving as executive producer. Lynda Obst is an executive producer. Richard Preston is a co-executive producer on the series. The series is produced by Touchstone Television, a division of Disney Television Studios alongside 20th Television and ABC Signature, and Scott Free Productions.
About Scott Free Productions
Scott Free Productions, founded in 1995, is the film and television production vehicle of acclaimed filmmaker Ridley Scott. In the 25 years since Scott Free was formed, the company has earned over 100 Emmy nominations with 22 wins, and 28 Golden Globe nominations for its television projects. Current productions include the HBO Max sci-fi epic, RAISED BY WOLVES, the first-ever American television series helmed by Ridley Scott, a drama about androids raising human children in an outer space colony; THE GOOD FIGHT, the critically-acclaimed CBS All Access spin-off of THE GOOD WIFE recently ordered to season five; an inventive heist anthology series, JIGSAW, to shoot in 2021 for Netflix; the investigative drama series THE BEAST MUST DIE for U.K.’s Britbox, starring Jared Harris; and an upcoming adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic GREAT EXPECTATIONS for FX/BBC1. Other hailed Scott Free productions include the THE HOT ZONE; THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE; THE TERROR; THE GOOD WIFE; TABOO; NUMB3RS; THE PILLARS OF THE EARTH; THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN; THE COMPANY; CRIMES OF THE CENTURY; GETTYSBURG; RE: GENERATION MUSIC PROJECT; I AM DYING; CLIVE DAVIS: THE SOUNDTRACK OF OUR LIVES; and the acclaimed Emmy-nominated National Geographic channel series of “Killing” telefilms: KILLING JESUS; KILLING KENNEDY; KILLING REAGAN; and KILLING LINCOLN.
About Touchstone Television
Touchstone Television, a part of Disney Television Studios, is devoted to making creatively ambitious scripted and unscripted series for all distribution platforms. Touchstone is responsible for the recent Netflix smash “Ratched” from Ryan Murphy and starring Golden Globe and Emmy winner Sarah Paulson in the title role; the Emmy and Golden Globe-winning sensation from Ryan Murphy, Nina Jacobson and Brad Simpson, “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story,” as well as its follow-up “The Assassination of Gianni Versace” (both with FX Productions) which also won the Emmy and Golden Globe for Outstanding Limited Series; the Emmy and Golden Globe-winning “Homeland,” starring Claire Danes and Mandy Patinkin which completed its eighth and final season this year; the Emmy-winning “Fosse/Verdon” (with FX Productions) from award-winning producers Thomas Kail, Steven Levenson, Joel Fields and Lin-Manuel Miranda and starring Sam Rockwell and Michelle Williams; the blockbuster “Sons of Anarchy” as well as its follow-up “Mayans M.C.” (with FX Productions) from co-creators Kurt Sutter and Elgin James; “Queen of the South,” executive produced by David T. Friendly, Dailyn Rodriguez and Benjamin Daniel Lobato; the Emmy winning “Pose” (with FX Productions) from Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, Nina Jacobson, Brad Simpson, Steven Canals, Janet Mock, Alexis Martin Woodall and Sherry Marsh; the Emmy-nominated “Genius” franchise which will air its third installment “Genius: Aretha” starring Cynthia Erivo this winter; and the Golden Globe-nominated “The Politician” from Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Ian Brennan and starring Tony winner Ben Platt and Oscar winner Gwyneth Paltrow. Upcoming series include “The Old Man” (with FX Productions) starring Academy Award winning Jeff Bridges and six-time Emmy winner John Lithgow and the newest installment of “American Crime Story” entitled “Impeachment: American Crime Story” (with FX Productions) starring Sarah Paulson, Beanie Feldstein, Clive Owen and Annaleigh Ashford. Touchstone Television shows have amassed a collective 134 Emmy nominations and 34 Emmy wins, as well as multiple Golden Globes, Humanitas Prizes and Peabody Awards.
About National Geographic Partners LLC
National Geographic Partners LLC (NGP), a joint venture between The Walt Disney Company and the National Geographic Society, is committed to bringing the world premium science, adventure and exploration content across an unrivaled portfolio of media assets. NGP combines the global National Geographic television channels (National Geographic Channel, Nat Geo WILD, Nat Geo MUNDO, Nat Geo PEOPLE) with National Geographic’s media and consumer-oriented assets, including National Geographic magazines; National Geographic studios; related digital and social media platforms; books; maps; children’s media; and ancillary activities that include travel, global experiences and events, archival sales, licensing and e-commerce businesses. Furthering knowledge and understanding of our world has been the core purpose of National Geographic for 132 years, and now we are committed to going deeper, pushing boundaries, going further for our consumers … and reaching millions of people around the world in 172 countries and 43 languages every month as we do it. NGP returns 27% of our proceeds to the nonprofit National Geographic Society to fund work in the areas of science, exploration, conservation and education. For more information visit natgeotv.com or nationalgeographic.com, or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest.