National Geographic’s Secrets of the Elephants Reveals Natalie Portman as Narrator and James Cameron Announces 2 More “Secrets of” Series | TCA 2023

Secrets of the Elephants

Bull elephant, Arnold, pulls off tree branches to feed upon and to share with the other herd. (National Geographic for Disney/Robbie Labanowski)

In celebration of National Geographic’s 135 years of existence, extraordinary blockbuster director and environmentalist James Cameron made a surprise visit to the Television Critics Association to announce that actress Natalie Portman will narrate the Earth Day series Secrets of the Elephants.

Cameron is the executive producer and National Geographic explorer-at-large for the series.

In a previous announcement, next year’s special series will be Secrets of the Octopus. During the panel, two more series were announced Secrets of the Bees and Secrets of the Penguins.

“On the Avatar films, we’re creating a fantasy view of nature but, thematically, underneath all that is this idea of the interconnectedness not only of nature itself but of us with nature,” said Cameron in a statement. “In the Secrets series, we try to forge an even more intimate and emotional connection with nature—to illuminate how these amazing creatures think, how they feel, how they communicate, how they function as complex societies and cultures.”

Here is the series description of Secrets of the Elephants:

Elephants have long been a source of wonder and mystery with their rich emotional lives and almost supernatural ways of navigating the world. In Secrets of the Elephants, we travel the globe to meet different families of elephants—desert elephants, forest elephants, Asian elephants, and African savannah elephants—and each has an incredible story of intelligence, grace, and survival to tell.

At the TCA 2023, the panelist attendees included National Geographic explorer Paul Kahumbu, director of photographer Bob Poole, senior vice president, development and production at Nat Geo Content Janet Han Vissering, and executive producer Maria Wilhelm. Kahumbu communicated with the audience via satellite.

“I studied Savannah elephants all my life. Elephants endured on this planet long before humans for millions of years. And forest elephants are recently discovered that haven’t been around as long,” said National Geographic Explorer Paula Kahumbu. “They are very difficult to study. They’ve been persecuted for a long time. They distrust humans. They’ve been killed for their ivories. It’s very exciting to explore this specie on film.”

After the Secrets of the Elephants panel concluded, executive producer James Cameron showed up in person to announce the two new series and explained his passion for nature.

“Through NatGeo and explorer at large, what draws me to it with the endless curiosity on how nature works. It’s how rapidly science works. Our role is to help with the storytelling. I’m not there with the 1000 mm lens. We worked with the very best natural history teams in the world. We help shape the narrative,” said Cameron. “I want the fine line seeing the emotions and empathy of these animals. We want people to feel connected to nature. In the world of screens and remoteness, we’ve lost touch with nature and with a nature deficit disorder. We need to fall back in love with nature.”

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Here are the synopses of the two announced series:

Secrets of the Bees – Think “bee” and chances are the honeybee will come to mind, yet, there are over 20,000 species of bee on Earth. From mountains to deserts, plains to jungles, bees have conquered every continent on the planet except Antarctica. Their importance to both the natural and human worlds cannot be overestimated. But with the science around bees gathering attention, there’s never been a better time to showcase the intimate secrets of bees. Employing the very latest macro technology to capture the “bee-eye view,” witness intimate bee behaviors showcasing their acute intelligence. And with a uniquely designed beehive filming at the center of the action, cameras will capture the highs and lows of beehive family drama—a queen bee working tirelessly to defend, feed, and serve her family. At the end of the day, it’s all about the family.

Secrets of the Penguins – Three years in the making, the series will tell a brand new, world-first story on the charismatic, plucky, and sentient birds at the other end of the Earth. Using newly developed technology, world-class scientific research and unprecedented access, National Geographic will unlock the secrets of the species that make their home in surprising and challenging landscapes around the world.

Over three episodes, the series unlocks previously untold stories and revelatory behaviors from global penguin societies, quick to feel love, hate or fear. Antarctica’s strong, powerful but sensitive emperors battle to survive on the dangerous front line of climate change. The street-smart African and little blue penguins live in cities, deserts and beyond, reyling on tenacious and “talkative” adolescents to forge new paths into the unknown. Powerful modern themes emerge among the macaronis and chinstraps of wild South Georgie, from strong female leadership to diversity, crim, and extreme bravery. Their moving narratives will astonish and inspire, showing penguins to be more like us than we ever realized before.

Also, Cameron shared a clip of the National Geographic special Titanic: 25 Years Later With James Cameron. The special airs on February 5th at 9/8c, before the re-release of the re-mastered Titanic theatrical release on February 10.

“History is constantly being revised with new knowledge and new interpretations,” said Cameron on the reason for this film. “This special involves a lot of that forensic investigation. [It] includes the door, technically a piece of paneling, with our piecing of forensic.”

Cameron shows a forensic clip from the NatGeo Titanic special involving the recreation of whether two survivors (stunt doubles) can be on the door through recreated freezing waters.

Secrets of the Elephants premieres on National Geographic on April 21st and then the next day on Disney+.

For news and interview pitches, contact Gig Patta at [email protected]. Follow for all his postings and musings in entertainment.

Source: National Geographic

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