A&E announced this week that they want to revive their series Biography. Originally Biography was a weekly series on A&E from 1987 through 2012. Episodes ran 30 minutes, 60 minutes, or 120 minutes, and each gave an overview of the life of a notable figure, usually within the last few decades, with backgrounds in everything from film, television, sports, business, and politics.
From 1961 to 1963, the Biography series was created by Mike Wallace and David Wolper for syndication. After nearly 25 years, in 1987, A&E began showing the original 1960s series once a week on their channel. The success of the series led A&E to purchase the Biography trademark so that they could begin to create new Biography episodes, which began airing in 1991. Hosts have includes Peter Graves, Jack Perkins, Bill Mumy, and Harry Smith. After five years of success, in 1996 the series branched out to creating a website, as well as a children’s version of the series.
From 1991 to 2003, hundreds of episodes have aired of Biography, making it one of their most successful shows. Originally the series focused more on historical figures, but gradually began to focus more on pop culture figures. In 1999, A&E created an entire Bio spinoff channel, which lasted until 2014 when it was rebranded as the FYI channel.
With their new reboot of the series, A&E plans to air specific installments on three of their channels A&E, Lifetime and History. These will non-scripted stand-alone documentaries, as well as documentary mini-series. The past original episodes will air in relation to anniversaries, current events, etc. and will be updated to match current developments in the figures’ lives.
In an interview with Variety, Rob Sharenow, the Executive VP/General Manager of A&E and Lifetime said the following about the reinvention of the brand:
There have been several feature films that spoke to people about figures that they love in pop culture. It just seemed like a ripe opportunity for us to jump back in. We have the premium brand in this genre… We’re in a moment where all of those franchises are gone but there’s an amazing renaissance in documentary and biographical storytelling… We’re looking for ‘Biography’ to be an ongoing multi-brand, cross-platform franchise.
There are not yet release dates set for the majority of these specials, with most appearing to be still in pre-production currently. The Notorious Life of Biggie Smalls is set to premiere this spring on A&E.
In the coming years, look for these seven upcoming limited series on A&E networks.
The End of America: Putin’s Master Plan (2 hour documentary) on HISTORY channel
- An deep look at the actions of Russian dictator Vladamir Putin, and how his leadership has had a direct effect on the United States of America.
The Notorious Life of Biggie Smalls (2 hour documentary) on A&E Network
- A examination of the life and the murder of rapper Notorious B.I.G. (otherwise know as Christopher Wallace).
Who Killed Tupac? (6 1-hour episodes) on A&E Network
- An examination of the life and the murder of rapper Tupac, and theories that still surround the suspicious circumstances of his death.
Gotti & Son (4 1-hour episodes) on A&E Network
- An examination of the father-son relationship between Gambino crime family mob boss John Gotti and his son John Gotti Jr.
Elizabeth Smart: Autobiography (2 hour documentary) on A&E Network
- A look at the life of kidnap victim Elizabeth Smart, on the 15th anniversary, revealing new details about her capture and life following.
Mike Tyson: Autobiography (2 hour documentary) on A&E Network
- A look at the life of the heavyweight boxing champion/entrepreneur Mike Tyson, who rose from poverty and crime, to unimaginable wealth and recognition.
David Koresh And The Siege Of Waco (2 hour documentary) on A&E Network
- A look at the life of cult leader David Koresh, who in 1993, Mt. Carmel Ranch outside Waco, Texas, initiated the one of the deadliest sieges in American history.