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Tom Hanks to Host 20-Episode WWII Docuseries

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Tom Hanks is set to host and narrate a new 20-part docuseries for the History Channel offering a comprehensive view of World War II.

The untitled project will reveal surprising new details about the global conflict, with topics ranging from the invasion of the Soviet Union to the bloody and brutal battles in the Pacific to Hitler’s response to Pearl Harbor and D-day. Sharing vivid accounts of the human experience, the series also includes the realities of racism in the US Armed Forces and the horrors of the Holocaust.

“During my formative years, every single adult in my life would make references to two words: The War,” Hanks said in a statement. “The lasting effects of WWII on the world and my own family was not lost on me. I am thrilled to partner with The History Channel to produce this all-encompassing series with a long form format that will give us the ability to tell this important piece of history in its entirety.”

The series is produced by A+E Factual Studios Group and Nutopia, with Sharon Scott, Steve Ascher, Ben Goold, Jane Root, Eli Lehrer and Mary E. Donahue serving as executive producers.

“Tom is one of America’s preeminent voices in WWII storytelling, not only respected for his on-screen portrayals but also for his deep insight and understanding of the war’s events and impact,” A+E Networks president and chairman Paul Buccieri added. “As a leader in contextualizing historical narratives for generations, Tom shares our commitment, vision, and responsibility to create premium, historically fact-based content, the foundation of A+E Networks. We are honored to have his historical acumen and iconic voice help bring this important global series to life. “

A+E Networks holds worldwide distribution rights to the untitled WWII project.

The History Channel is also developing a new podcast in partnership with President Obama and Michelle Obama’s Higher Ground, Pushkin Industries, and Audible, to explore America’s Reconstruction Era.

The untitled eight-part podcast will explore the history of the Reconstruction Era from 1863 to 1873, highlighting the “missed opportunities and complicated legacy of that period while also looking ahead at the lessons that can be gleaned for our future.”

“We are incredibly honored to partner with Higher Ground to tell an important part of history that, we agree with President Obama, has been overlooked,” said Buccieri in a statement. “In highlighting stories and presenting the facts of our shared past, no matter how difficult or uncomfortable, we aim to inspire listeners to ask questions, bring new perspectives, and spark ideas of change that will move our nation forward together.”

The podcast will be produced by Higher Ground Audio, Malcolm Gladwell’s Pushkin Industries, and Audible.

Derek Jeter and his Cap 2 Productions banner will also produce two new series -“History’s Greatest Warriors,” which reveals the step-by-step process involved in establishing the renowned warriors who altered history, and “The Icons That Built America,” which highlights the talented, often provocative entertainers whose brilliance and rise to stardom transformed American popular culture.

Danny Trejo will also examine the fascinating hidden history surrounding buried artifacts and lost civilizations in A+E Factual Studios’ “The UnXplored with Danny Trejo.”

LeBron James and Maverick Carter’s The SpringHill Company will also produce three new documentaries. They include “Triumph: Jesse Owens and the Berlin Olympics” (working title), a two-hour documentary narrated by Don Cheadle that will showcase Jesse Owens’ historic triumph over Nazi Germany during the 1936 Berlin Olympics; “Jim Thorpe” (working title) about the legendary Olympian whose athletic prowess across baseball, football and basketball made
him one of the greatest athletes of all-time; and an unannounced project that will be revealed at a later date.

The slate was unveiled during A+E Network’s Upfront presentation to advertisers in New York City on Wednesday.

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