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Discussion Starter #1
‘Hot Zone’ plays like horror show
By Rob Owen, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's 'Tuned In' Column - May 23, 2019

National Geographic Channel’s “The Hot Zone” (9 p.m. May 27-29) is both horror show and thriller. Instead of a boogeyman with a knife or gun, the killer is the Ebola virus and its calling card for potential calamity is something as innocuous as a cough.

“The Hot Zone,” based on the nonfiction book by Richard Preston, manages to be both smart (mini lectures on infectious disease transmission via expository dialogue) and silly (a scientist spirits away dead, defrosting monkey corpses in a sedan’s trunk). And yet every time someone sneezes or dares to put in a contact lens, the tension is palpable.

It’s a weird dichotomy. If one can imagine a program as fodder for “MST3K,” that’s probably not a compliment, and yet this six-hour miniseries lends itself to “Don’t do that!” mockery even as it takes viewers on a fast, entertaining ride inspired by true events.

Do not watch while eating — vomit and blood are commonly shown — and prepare for some wooden dialogue that sounds like it was written in the late ‘80s when the story is largely set.

“Level Four air lock: This is where the real world meets ‘the hot zone,’” intones Dr. Nancy Jaax (Julianna Margulies, “The Good Wife”), the heroic U.S. Army lieutenant colonel who is beset upon by idiot men (who second guess her; comment on her appearance) even as she makes multiple stupid choices that flaunt protocol.

(Jaax is based on a real person and one has to wonder if to gain the real Jaax’s cooperation producers agreed to post an on-screen “thank you” at the end of the first episode that rattles off her real-life accomplishments to atone for what the fictional Jaax is shown doing on screen.)

“The Hot Zone” is stocked with a wealth of talented character actors, including Noah Emmerich (“The Americans”) as Jaax’s husband; Liam Cunningham (“Game of Thrones”) as Jaax’s mentor; Topher Grace (“That ‘70s Show”) as a know-it-all virologist; Robert Sean Leonard (“House”) as a mid-level commercial lab manager and Nick Searcy (“Justified”) as the janitor who brings Jaax her dead, frozen monkeys for research and is then hurt when she freaks out to receive whole bodies when she only wanted tissue samples (“They’re fresh, ma’am!” he implores. “They just died today!”).

Yes, “The Hot Zone” will probably provoke equal amounts of hilarity and horror with its mix of surreal situations and moments of “Oh no, he didn’t!” terror.
“I hate to use a sick day for a little fever,” says a worker at the Ebola-infected monkey facility before management lets on that there may be a problem with the monkeys.

Showrunners Kelly Souders and Brian Peterson, veterans of “Under the Dome” and “Smallville,” sprinkle in enough science to balance the crazier elements of “The Hot Zone,” Peak TV’s version of a summer disaster flick.

https://www.post-gazette.com/ae/tv-r...s/201905210105
 

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Discussion Starter #2
‘The Hot Zone,’ flaws and all, captures a near-catastrophic epidemic
By Lorraine Ali, Los Angeles Times - May 23, 2019

Riding the subway, picking up a pencil or purchasing a pack of gum portend human catastrophe in National Geographic’s “The Hot Zone,” a six-part biohazard thriller that will have you reaching for the hand sanitizer if not a hazmat suit.

The miniseries, which premieres Monday and airs over three consecutive nights, follows a team of 1980s scientists who discover a new mutation of the Ebola virus in a lab just 20 minutes outside of Washington, D.C.

The deadly pathogen has a 90% mortality rate, there’s no known cure and the clock is ticking to identify its carriers, contain the disease and find an antidote.
Based on the bestseller by Richard Preston and influenced by true events, “The Hot Zone” highlights the heroic role scientists played in the race against a fatal epidemic.

At the center of unraveling this lethal riddle is veterinarian and chief pathologist at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, Lt. Col. Nancy Jaax (Julianna Margulies), whom like the real-life figure the character is based upon, is key to winning the battle.

Centers for Disease Control researcher Wade Carter (Liam Cunningham) represents institutional knowledge on how to grapple with the Ebola demon. The story moves between their two respective timelines — 1989 Virginia and 1976 Zaire — as it tracks Ebola’s origins and spread from the jungles of Africa to America’s capital. All it takes is one vomiting airline passenger and a sick lab monkey or three.

Each hour-long episode, however, suffers from another sort of plague: ill-timed and clunky dialogue that distracts from the sheer urgency of the situation. When the otherwise persuasive Carter explains to a doubter why he must risk his life to conquer Ebola, he offers this forgettable argument: “We need to observe it. Get inside its head.”

When Carter journeys to an African village where there have been reports of the disease, his nervous junior researcher quips: “No one would be happier than me to just run into some boring old flu. … Well, maybe my mom.” Not the best setup for the forthcoming scenes of dead pregnant women, blood-soaked bedding and pox-ravaged nuns.

There’s also the issue of repetition. Viewers learn over and over that U.S. authorities have never contained anything like this on our own soil. “I want to stick to procedures,” says one by-the-book researcher. “If you find any, let me know,” says another. There is no protocol, we’re reminded by several more panic-stricken responders over each hour-long episode. You mean it’s unprecedented? Like never happened before?!

The pacing of each installment, however, is brisk despite a great deal of necessary scientific and medical background. Accounts of how the virus developed in the jungles of Africa, was first discovered domestically in Virginia, which agencies were involved and the frantic reaction of a public already rocked by the AIDS crisis are interspersed with anecdotes of the how easily the disease is spread. And it’s a graphic journey.

If squeamish, you should know now that “The Hot Zone” is generous when it comes to projectile vomiting: on planes, in office hallways, hospital rooms and huts across Zaire. There are also festering body blisters, oozing blood clots, profuse fever sweats and grisly monkey autopsies.

We’d expect no less from a “Level 4 hot agent.” Virologist Peter Jahrling (Topher Grace) is one of the unfortunate fellows who underestimated Lt. Col. Jaax and her findings, and let’s just say the bespectacled wunderkind isn’t as cocky by Episode 4. If only he’d listened to her.

Convincing Jahrling and all the other dismissive or reticent men from various government agencies isn’t Jaax’s only challenge. She’s torn between her duty to protect humanity and her loyalty to her own family.

Her husband (Noah Emmerich) is furious when he finds out she moved the kids’ baseball gear into the back seat of the car to make room in the trunk for the highly contagious corpses of frozen simians. But there was no time for official transport, she argues.

The gender-specific subdrama is of the era but also speaks to the modern struggles of working women, making it a powerful addition to the already tense narrative.
Plus there’s nothing that spells out impending doom like monkey blood dripping from the trunk of a late-model sedan.

Though flawed, “The Hot Zone” is an effective, real-life horror story whose key points are hard to brush aside. Ex: One sneeze on a subway, and a million hot particles can be dispersed. Perhaps it’s best to stay home today.

https://www.latimes.com/entertainmen...526-story.html
 

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My wife wanted to watch it. We watched the first episode on demand and liked it. Started to watch the next and it's unavailable. We can watch the 3rd, 4th or 5th. Just not the second.
 

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If anyone has wondered where Sir Devos has gone, he is now on this show. Juliana is looking a bit cat-like at the moment. I think she visited the wrong plastic surgeon.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
My wife wanted to watch it. We watched the first episode on demand and liked it. Started to watch the next and it's unavailable. We can watch the 3rd, 4th or 5th. Just not the second.
There is a marathon this Saturday of all of them in a row including the finale if you want to record them all.
 

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Not as good as I'd expected but still better than most TV. OK, that's faint praise.
What spoils it a little is that I read the book and know the outcomes, lowering the suspense factor for me.
 

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Very good mini series. I was amazed how inept our Government was during this outbreak. It was by luck that the Ebola strain did not kill anyone. And the follow up show was really great also. Again the Texas Hospital that treated a man who was having high fever and other problems did not even ask if he had traveled out of the country. He just got back from west Africa where the biggest out break in history of Ebola was going on. Unreal. The he comes back and gives it to a bunch of nurses. I hope that our CDC and Government have woke up after all these screw up.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
We binge watched the whole series, loved it. Very well done with lots of great actors/actresses. Very intense too. If it hadn't mutated, we probably would of lost tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands or more in our jammed packed cities. Pure luck it mutated at the right time. Scary stuff indeed. Kudos for History doing this, very impressed.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
‘The Hot Zone’: Ebola Virus Drama Series Draws Record Ratings For National Geographic


The Hot Zone limited drama series about the Ebola virus starring Julianna Margulies drew record ratings for National Geographic, becoming the network’s most-watched scripted series of all time. The Hot Zone averaged a .82 in Live+3 ratings in the demo over three nights, besting previous record holder Genius: Einstein, according to Nielsen. It also was just shy of besting The Story of God With Morgan Freeman as the network’s most-watched series of all time, and making it the second-most-watched scripted series to premiere on ad-supported cable so far this year.


The Hot Zone boosted National Geographic’s viewership 350 percent above the previous six-week average in prime time. The May 27 series premiere also lifted Nat Geo 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 according to the network and Nielsen. The Hot Zone will begin airing in 172 countries and in 43 languages throughout the summer.


Based on Richard Preston’s best-selling book of the same name, The Hot Zone is inspired by the true events surrounding the origins of the Ebola virus and its arrival on U.S. soil in 1989. Margulies, Noah Emmerich, Liam Cunningham and Topher Grace lead the ensemble cast. In The Hot Zone, a heroic U.S. Army scientist, Nancy Jaax (Margulies), working with a secret specialized military team, puts her life on the line to head off the outbreak before it spreads to the human population.


https://deadline.com/2019/06/the-ho...eries-ratings-national-geographic-1202627421/
 

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Discussion Starter #14
‘The Hot Zone’ Sequel In Works As Nat Geo Eyes Turning Hit Limited Series Into Anthology Franchise
By Nellie Andreeva, Deadline.com - Jun. 19, 2019

EXCLUSIVE: National Geographic is looking to stay in The Hot Zone. Following the ratings and critical success of the limited series starring Julianna Margulies, the Disney-owned network has begun discussions with producers Fox 21 TV Studios, part of Disney TV Studios, and Scott Free to turn the program, chronicling the Ebola virus outbreak, into an anthology series.

Talks are still in early stages but I hear the idea is for each season to look at a different health-related crisis where science is a big factor in finding a solution to potential epidemic or public panic. I hear producers are zeroing in on the post-9/11 anthrax crisis as topic of the potential second installment.

I hear the project has been put on the fast-track as Nat Geo had made launching a second scripted anthology series after Genius a priority. No word yet on if any of the cast from the original The Hot Zone would return for the potential followup, but all sides appear open to it. Margulies led The Hot Zone ensemble cast that also included Noah Emmerich, Liam Cunningham and Topher Grace.

The Hot Zone, which debuted May 27, has become Nat Geo’s most watched scripted series ever, topping Genius: Einstein and MARS, and the channel’s second most watched series overall just behind The Story of God with Morgan Freeman. It has been watched by 9.33 million viewers across the premieres and repeats in L+7, and saw a 101% lift in the demo from L+SD to L+7. In L+3, The Hot Zone averaged a .82 rating in the demo over its three nights. It lifted Nat Geo’s viewership 350% above the previous six week average.

Additionally, The Hot Zone has emerged as an awards contender for Nat Geo with strong reviews.

Based on Richard Preston’s best-selling book of the same name, The Hot Zone was inspired by the true events surrounding the origins of the Ebola virus and its arrival on U.S. soil in 1989. In it, a heroic U.S. Army scientist, Nancy Jaax (Margulies), working with a secret specialized military team, puts her life on the line to head off the outbreak before it spreads to the human population. The Hot Zone is a co-production of Fox 21 TV Studios and Scott Free Productions.

Nat Geo has been ramping up its scripted slate. It has two two scripted series – Barkskins and The Right Stuff – heading into production next month (Barkskins in Quebec City and The Right Stuff in Florida). The next season of Genius, centered on Aretha Franklin, is in pre-productoin.)

https://deadline.com/2019/06/the-hot...es-1202634863/
 

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Just finished watching. Plays like a horror film is quite right. Most horror films, I just watch in amusement. This thing was just too real. I got creeped out a number of times. Nice to see Noah Emmerich and Robert Sean Leonard again. Both were perfectly cast, IMO.

Takeaway: Humans make mistakes, and one will eventually take most of us out.

Hard to argue with how they characterized Ebola, and the like, as the Earth's immune system, trying to destroy it's most invasive infection, man.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
‘The Hot Zone’: Season 2 About 2001 Anthrax Attacks Ordered By Nat Geo

EXCLUSIVE: National Geographic has greenlighted a second season of scientific thriller The Hot Zone, which will focus on the anthrax attacks of 2001. Kelly Souders and Brian Peterson return as executive producers and showrunners of the new installment, produced by Touchstone Television and Scott Free Productions. Preliminary casting for The Hot Zone: Anthrax is already underway.

“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, EVP, 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.”

The Hot Zone started off as a Julianna Margulies-starring limited series, chronicling the Ebola virus outbreak, which launched on Memorial Day 2019 and became Nat Geo’s most watched scripted series ever and second most-watched series overall. Just weeks later, Nat Geo brass began discussions with Touchstone TV and Scott Free about turning The Hot Zone into an anthology series, with each season examining a different health crisis where science is a big factor in finding a solution to potential epidemic or public panic. The producers right away zeroed in on the post-9/11 anthrax crisis as a topic of the potential second installment, which was put on fast-track development. The coronavirus pandemic gave the project a degree of urgency and could become a subject of a future installment.

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 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.”

The original Hot Zone 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. Across 12 broadcasts through the May 29, 2019 finale (premieres and repeats), it was viewed by 7.5 million people in the U.S.

“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.”

With the Season 2 order, The Hot Zone joins another Nat Geo anthology series, Genius, whose latest installment, Genius: Aretha, is now in production.

Nat Geo’s scripted programming slate also includes The Right Stuff, which recently premiered on Disney+, and limited series Barkskins.

For The Hot Zone: Anthrax, Souders and 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.

 

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Discussion Starter #17
‘The Hot Zone: Anthrax’: Tony Goldwyn & Daniel Dae Kim To Star In Season 2 Of Nat Geo Series

Scandal alum Tony Goldwyn and Daniel Dae Kim (Hawaii Five-O, The Good Doctor) are set as the leads in The Hot Zone: Anthrax, the second installment of Nat Geo’s scientific thriller anthology series. As previously announced, Kelly Souders and Brian Peterson will return as executive producers and showrunners for the new installment, which will focus on the harrowing anthrax attacks of 2001. Principal photography will begin this winter in Toronto. The series hails from National Geographic Channel, Scott Free Productions and 20th Television.

The Hot Zone: Anthrax takes place in 2001, just weeks after 9/11, where 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 and caused panic throughout the U.S. Despite interagency turf wars and many false leads, an unlikely team of scientists, FBI agents and government departments slowly closed in on a shocking prime suspect.

Goldwyn will play Bruce Ivins, a brilliant microbiologist who becomes embroiled in the hunt to find the 2001 anthrax killer. While he works closely with the FBI to uncover who is behind the deadly anthrax letters, his growing instability and paranoia give way to even deeper and unnerving discoveries.

Kim will portray Matthew Ryker, an FBI agent with a specialty in microbiology, who, just three weeks after the 9/11 attacks, risks his career to convince his superiors of the unthinkable, that the United States is under attack again.

Goldwyn’s character is based on the real Bruce Ivins, an Army biologist who was suspected in the 2001 anthrax attacks. Kim’s Ryker is a composite character.

“Tony and Daniel are both wonderfully versatile and dimensional actors who will bring complexity and depth to these characters,” said Carolyn Bernstein, executive vice president of scripted and documentary films, National Geographic. “We can’t wait for their star turns in this startling, authentic and timely scientific thriller.”

Scott Free Production’s Ridley Scott and David W. Zucker executive produce, with Jordan Sheehan also serving as executive producer along with Lynda Obst. Richard Preston is a co-executive producer on the series. The series is produced by 20th Television and Scott Free Productions.

Goldwyn, who starred as President Fitzgerald Grant on all seven seasons of Scandal, recently completed production on King Richard and starred in back-to-back critically acclaimed Broadway productions: Olivier Award-winner The Inheritance and Network. His other recent credits include HBO’s Lovecraft Country and a co-starring role in Netflix’s Chambers.

Hawaii Five-O
and Lost alum Kim can currently be seen in NBC’s New Amsterdam. Later this year, Kim stars opposite Toni Collette and Anna Kendrick in Netflix’s feature Stowaway and in Sundance film Blast Beat. Kim also is an executive producer on ABC’s The Good Doctor.

“Tony Goldwyn and Daniel Dae Kim have such tremendous depth as actors and are the perfect duo to dive into the twists and turns of the deadly attacks that sent the country into panic,” said Souders and Peterson, showrunners and executive producers.

The six-hour scientific thriller follows last year’s The Hot Zone, starring Julianna Margulies, which was National Geographic’s most-watched scripted series of all time.

Goldwyn is repped by CAA, Untitled, and attorneys Schreck Rose Dapello Adams Berlin & Dunham. Kim is repped by Brillstein Entertainment Partners, UTA and Gang Tyre Ramer ETC.

 

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‘The Hot Zone: Anthrax’: Tony Goldwyn & Daniel Dae Kim To Star In Season 2 Of Nat Geo Series
Was hoping to see Season 1 of this show up on Disney+ or HULU. Surprised it is not available on either.
 
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