National Geographic Acquires Steve James Chicago Docuseries ‘City So Real’

Steve James’ buzzy Sundance docuseries “City So Real” has landed at National Geographic.

Nat Geo has acquired the series, which takes a multifaceted look at Chicago and its history-making 2019 mayoral election, and is lining it up for a fall premiere.

The series hails from James, whose previous work includes “America to Me” and “Hoop Dreams,” and his longtime producing partner Zak Piper. 

It begins in the mid-summer 2018 when Mayor Rahm Emanuel shocked the city by announcing he wouldn’t seek re-election, and ends in the spring of 2019. An unprecedented 21 candidates emerge in a diverse and crowded field as they engage in a no-holds-barred battle for a chance to shape the city’s uncertain future.

The series is produced by Participant and Kartemquin Films and originally consisted of four one-hour episodes, however, Nat Geo will exclusively premiere a fifth episode that follows the COVID-19 pandemic and social uprising following George Floyd’s death.

News of the acquisition was announced during Nat Geo’s virtual summer press tour, which also featured the following bits of news:

  • Nat Geo has tapped “Alien” star Sigourney Weaver to narrate its “Secrets of The Whales” nature series, which chronicles the whale way of life and their challenges and triumphs in an ever-changing ocean. Additionally, the network announced that James Cameron will serve as executive producer on the project which is scheduled to premiere on Earth Day 2021.
  • Thor himself Chris Hemsworth is teaming with Nat Geo to present “Shark Beach” (working title), a special which will headline Sharkfest 2021 and see Hemsworth embarks on a mission to uncover the complicated truth behind the alarming increase in shark attacks in Australia.
  • Nat Geo is investigating the 470,000 new declassified digital files that were found in Osama bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound. Premiering Sept. 10, the network’s “Bin Laden’s Hard Drive” special will provide insights from CIA profilers, criminal psychologists, religious scholars, military experts as well as men who personally knew bin Laden.
  • With COVID-19 very much in mind, the network has greenlit a special called “Virus Hunters,” produced by ABC News’ Lincoln Square Productions, which will tell the stories of the experts currently searching to identify the chain of events that could cause the next global pandemic. The special will premiere Nov. 1.

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