‘Mars’ Emmy switcheroo: Nat Geo program enters Documentary/Nonfiction Series race

The TV academy has accepted the petition for Nat Geo’s “Mars” to enter the Best Documentary/Nonfiction Series race at the 2017 Emmys — switching over from the Best Limited Series category. Due to the program’s mix of hundreds of real-life interviews, futuristic reenactments and cinematic production value, the program and the network as a whole are now re-shaping the Nonfiction Series category. The interviews actually informed all of the future recreation sequences and those were written based solely on the interviews and in-depth research.

The six-part program is based on the 2015 nonfiction book “How We’ll Live on Mars by” Stephen Petranek and is produced by Hollywood legends Ron Howard and Brian Grazer of Imagine Entertainment and by RadicalMedia, who won the Best Documentary or Nonfiction Special Emmy last year for “What Happened, Miss Simone?” It aired last November and December and is unique in that it blends real-life interviews with the fictional story of the first colonizing mission from Earth to Mars in 2033. In addition to the impressive behind-the-scenes talent, “Mars” stars Ben Cotton, Alberto Ammann, Anamaria Marinca, Clementine Poidatz, Jihae and Sammi Rotibi.

Nat Geo’s “Mars” was filmed in Budapest and Morocco. TV critics praised the unique hybrid program during its initial airing, with Ben Travers (Indiewire) writing, “The series deserves considerable respect for deftly balancing the two seemingly contradictory storytelling devices.” And Verne Gay (Newsday) raved, “Mars is interesting, and much more: Quirky, funky, earnest, intelligent, engaging and occasionally melodramatic.”

Howard and Grazer won the Oscar for Best Picture as producers of “A Beautiful Mind” (2001), for which Howard also took home Best Director. They reaped Emmys for producing both “From the Earth to the Moon” (Best Miniseries in 1998) and “Arrested Development” (Best Comedy Series in 2003). On his own, Grazer won Best Drama Series for “24” in 2006. Earlier this year the duo received a Grammy in the Best Music Film category for the documentary “The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years,” putting them only a Tony away from becoming EGOT champs.

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