21st Century Fox is committed to unlocking the potential of the audiences we serve by focusing on creativity & the arts, knowledge & exploration, and sports & well-being, as well as through a commitment to diversity and sustainable business practice.

Fox Networks Group (incl. FOX, Cable, Sports, etc.), Knowledge & Exploration, National Geographic Channel

FOX Celebrates Scientists, Inspires Students with Breakthrough Prize Ceremony, Airing this Sunday, Nov. 29


On Sunday, Nov. 29, at 7/6c, FOX will air a one-hour special on the 2015 Breakthrough Prize Ceremony, an annual awards show honoring the work of today's leading scientists and mathematicians. The ceremony, hosted by Family Guy creator and Cosmos executive producer Seth MacFarlane at NASA's Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California, originally aired live on 21st Century Fox's National Geographic Channel on Nov. 8. Presenters include Russell Crowe, Hilary Swank, Lily Collins, Thomas Middleditch, and Martin Starr, as well as a special musical performance by Pharrell Williams.

"It is an honor to partner with the Breakthrough Prize team to celebrate the incredible men and women who are driving the world's most significant scientific advances," said Gary Newman and Dana Walden, chairmen and CEOs, Fox Television Group. "We hope that by showcasing these great minds and their important work to millions of viewers, we can help them inspire the next generation of scientists."

Tech industry leaders Sergey Brin (Google), Anne Wojcicki (23andMe), Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan (Facebook), Yuri Milner and Julia Milner (DST Global), and Jack Ma and Cathy Zhang (Alibaba) launched the prize in 2013 to give scientists and mathematicians the same celebrity treatment as actors and musicians. The awards honor achievements in the fields of Fundamental Physics, Life Sciences, and Mathematics, and laureates receive $3 million in prize money, making the Breakthrough Prize one of the most lucrative awards in the world of science.

"To me, growing up [in India], scientists were the rock stars," Google CEO Sundar Pichai told Vanity Fair. "Pretty much every major advance in society and economy has been due to science... Hopefully, these awards, mirroring Hollywood with science, motivates more kids to pick up science."


By celebrating scientists' work in this way, the Breakthrough Prize founders hope to generate excitement about the pursuit of science as a career. To that end, this year's ceremony was the first to feature the Breakthrough Junior Challenge, which awards $400,000 in educational prizes to students whose original videos bring to life a scientific or mathematical idea or principle. Ryan Chester, a senior at North Royalton High School in Ohio, took home the grand prize of $250,000 for his video on Einstein's theory of relativity.

"Science is everything," Chester said. "By using a mathematical way of looking at the world, we can come up with solutions to things that we never would have imagined without a set of laws like [the ones] science provides."

Jennifer Doudna, a professor of chemistry and molecular cell biology at the University of California Berkeley and a previous Breakthrough Prize laureate, says the awards have already made an impact on students. "I get regular e-mails from students who are inspired not just by the prize but by the attention it places on science," she told The New York Times. "And that's a wonderful thing."

The Breakthrough Prize '15 one-hour special will air on Sunday, Nov. 29 from 7:00 - 8:00 PM ET/PT on FOX. For more information, visit BreakthroughPrize.org.

Photos by Justin Bishop for Vanity Fair.

Diversity, Fox Filmed Entertainment, Fox Networks Group (incl. FOX, Cable, Sports, etc.), National Geographic Channel, Twentieth Century Fox Television

Fox Film and TV Receive Women's Image Award Nominations for Positive Portrayals of Women


On November 17, the Women's Image Network (WIN) announced the nominations for The WIN Awards, an annual ceremony honoring outstanding individuals in politics, business, music, and media who promote gender parity through their creativity and leadership. The winners will be announced on February 10, 2016. Several film and television productions from 21st Century Fox businesses received nominations.

He Named Me Malala, the documentary from Fox Searchlight and director Davis Guggenheim following the life of education activist and Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, received two nominations, one for best documentary film and another for Laurie MacDonald for producing. The film will be available on DVD and Digital HD on December 15.

Fox has used the film to share Malala's story with a global audience and engage and inspire young women everywhere. In lieu of a traditional premiere, the company invited nearly 7,000 female high school students from the Los Angeles Unified School District for an exclusive screening of the film. The event coincided with the launch of Girls Build LA, the newest campaign from the LA Fund for Public Education to empower the city's young women to take action in their communities.

More Fox Searchlight films received nominations, as well, including Mistress America (Best Feature Film, Greta Gerwig for writing and producing), Far from the Madding Crowd (Best Feature Film, Carey Mulligan for acting), Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (Best Feature Film, Olivia Cooke for acting), and Brooklyn (Saoirse Ronan for acting, Finola Dwyer and Amanda Posey for producing).

In addition, several Twentieth Century Fox Television productions received nominations, including New Girl (Liz Meriwether, Katherine Pope, Erin O'Malley, and Daniell Sanchez-Witzel for producing), Modern Family (Ryan Case for directing), Empire (Best Drama Series), and Fresh Off the Boat (Best Comedy Series). Emmanuelle Chriqui was also nominated for her role in Killing Jesus on National Geographic Channel.

For more information and a full list of nominees, visit TheWINAwards.com.

Fox Networks Group (incl. FOX, Cable, Sports, etc.), Sustainability

FOX's 'The Simpsons' Wins Seventh Environmental Media Award for Raising Awareness of Environmental Issues


On October 24, top Hollywood talent gathered at the Warner Bros. studio lot for the 25th annual Environmental Media Awards, a yearly awards show recognizing film and television that increase public awareness of environmental issues. FOX's The Simpsons collected the seventh award in the show's history for an episode exploring the issue of fracking.

"Over the years, we at The Simpsons have addressed so many environmental issues," said Yeardley Smith, who plays Lisa Simpson. "We have tackled factory farming, acid rain, light pollution, over-fishing, climate change, clear cutting old growth trees, hive collapse, and now fracking... Through it all, the EMAs have been there with tremendous support."

The winning episode, entitled "Opposites A-Frack," was written by Valentina L. Garza and directed by Matthew Nastuk. Matt Selman, who along with Al Jean currently serves as the showrunner, accepted the award.

"When we set out to do a show about hydraulic fracturing, or 'fracking,' we felt it was important to present both sides of this complicated issue," Selman joked. "We couldn't find any 'pros,' but we tried."

Each of the nominees in this category was produced by a 21st Century Fox business. FOX's Bob's Burgers was nominated for its episode "Late Afternoon in the Garden of Bob and Louise," and the Twentieth Century Fox Television production Cristela received a nomination, as well.

"We have incredible nominees and remarkable honorees tonight whose activism touches everything that we have been working toward here at EMA for all these years," said Debbie Levin, president of the Environmental Media Association. "We have been blessed to work with the most passionate environmentalists in our community, individuals who understand that their voices can truly make substantial changes."

The Environmental Media Association was founded in 1989 by Lyn and Norman Lear and Cindy and Alan Horn. EMA is dedicated to harnessing the power of celebrity and the media to promote sustainable lifestyles and believes through positive role modeling the entertainment community can inspire consumers to take action.

In addition to recognizing strong environmental messaging, the EMA Awards also present the Green Seal to film and television projects that have gone above and beyond in the call to make their productions more environmentally friendly. Eight Fox productions received the honor this year, including Deadpool, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, Morgan, Paper Towns, Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, The Martian, The X-Files, and X-Men: Apocalypse.

At last year's awards, FOX's New Girl and Cosmos won in the Television Comedy and Reality Television categories for their respective episodes on waste and climate change. In addition, FOX Broadcasting collected the special Green Production Award for its Fall Eco-Casino Party, the network's annual launch party to kick off the new television season. The event, which is completely carbon neutral, brings together FOX talent and executives to raise money for environmental charities, and it has raised more than $250,000 over the past decade.

Other stars in attendance this year included Gwyneth Paltrow, Blythe Danner, Lance Bass, Jessica Biel, Ed Begley Jr., and Kristin Davis. For the full list of EMA winners and a complete recording of the awards ceremony, visit the Environmental Media Association's official website.

Corporate, Sustainability

21st Century Fox Receives Perfect Score for Climate Change Disclosure in 2015 CDP Report


The environmental not-for-profit CDP has commended 21st Century Fox for the transparency and thoroughness of its corporate sustainability program, awarding the company a perfect score of 100 in its latest report. CDP assesses the depth and quality of the climate change related information that companies disclose to investors and the global market place, and the organization's new report ranks 21st Century Fox among the top 10% of S&P 500 companies, placing it on the Climate Disclosure Leadership Index. This is the seventh consecutive year that the company has earned a spot on the CDLI.

CDP is the world's largest clearinghouse for companies' carbon footprint data and environmental management strategies, as more than 5,500 of the world's largest companies, including 67% of the S&P 500, report this information to CDP annually. These companies complete an annual questionnaire that addresses total energy use and carbon emissions across their operations, as well as strategy and governance in assessing and managing risks and opportunities from climate change.

The Climate Disclosure Leadership Index (CDLI) scores companies' performances on a scale of 0 to 100, based on the level of disclosure of carbon emissions measurement techniques and subsequent public disclosure. The performance band grades companies' overall response to climate change. Companies are classified in Bands A through D, with "A" being the best overall grade and "D" being the worst. 2015 marks 21st Century Fox's seventh straight year on the CDLI, a track record surpassed by only two companies. The company received a disclosure score of 100 and a "B" in the performance band.

Top scores indicate a high level of transparency in the disclosure of climate change-related information, providing investors with a level of comfort to assess corporate accountability and preparedness for changing market demands and emissions regulation.

Paul Dickinson, executive chairman and co-founder of CDP says, "As the world looks beyond the Paris climate change negotiations and prepares for a low carbon future, reliable information about how companies are responding to the transition will be ever more valuable. For this reason, we congratulate those businesses that have achieved a position on CDP's Climate Disclosure Leadership Index."

21st Century Fox has disclosed its emissions and carbon reduction strategy with CDP since the launch of its corporate sustainability program in 2007. CDP works with 822 institutional investors representing nearly $95 trillion in assets. The complete reports can be found at CDP.net.

Learn more about 21st Century Fox's commitments to sustainability.

26 solar (2).png

Solar Panels at the Fox Studios lot in Los Angeles

Knowledge & Exploration, National Geographic Channel

National Geographic Partners Closes Deal, Announces Senior Leadership Team

21st Century Fox and the National Geographic Society have completed the transaction to form National Geographic Partners, a new media company combining the National Geographic television channels with the remainder of the Society's commercial assets, including National Geographic magazine, National Geographic Studios, and more. On November 16, the company announced the appointment of its senior leadership team.

"Upon completing the transaction to form National Geographic Partners, we are thrilled to bring these incredibly talented executives to the senior leadership team," said Declan Moore, CEO of National Geographic Partners. "National Geographic is one of the world's most trusted brands, delivering unique and compelling storytelling of science, discovery and wonder to consumers for over a century. We're excited to officially begin our journey to bring a new and integrated National Geographic experience to people worldwide, and I look forward to partnering with Ward Platt and working with Susan Goldberg, Courteney Monroe and Jeffrey Schneider to share the National Geographic mission with an even larger audience."

Platt, who currently serves as COO of Fox International Channels, as well as CEO of National Geographic Channels International, will join as Chief Operating Officer of the new venture. He will act as Moore's partner in driving the global revenue of the large portfolio of businesses.

Susan Goldberg will continue to serve as Editor-in-Chief of National Geographic magazine and will add the title of Editorial Director, responsible for all of the publishing activities under the new venture, including digital journalism, magazines, books, maps, children and family, travel, and adventure. Jeffrey Schneider, who is currently Executive Vice President of Business and Legal Affairs for National Geographic Channels, will become EVP of Business and Legal Affairs for National Geographic Partners.

Courteney Monroe, currently CEO of National Geographic Channels U.S., will now serve as CEO of National Geographic Global Networks, overseeing all National Geographic channels, as well as National Geographic Studios, the in-house television production studio responsible for the network's Emmy-nominated series Brain Games and the Emmy-winning series Explorer, among many other projects. Monroe will work closely with Fox Networks Group Chairman and CEO Peter Rice to position National Geographic Channels as a global leader in premium science, adventure, and exploration programming.

21st Century Fox first announced the expanded partnership between the two entities in September, after 18 years of jointly operating the National Geographic Channels. The company now owns 73% of National Geographic Partners, and the Society, which remains an independent nonprofit, owns the balance. The new company will have a shared governance structure, and both entities will have equal representation on the board of directors. The deal, valued at $725 million, pushes the Society's endowment to more than $1 billion, enabling the organization to nearly double its investment in an array of science, research, and education programs.

Plans include the creation of the National Geographic Grosvenor Center for Education, dedicated to improving the geographic skills of high school students, and the establishment of Centers of Excellence in Cartography, Journalism and Photography, which will develop and fund innovations in exploration, mapping and story-telling.

"This expanded partnership, bringing together all of the media and consumer activities under the National Geographic umbrella, one of the most treasured names in the world, creates vast opportunities and enables this business to be even more successful in a digital environment," said James Murdoch, CEO of 21st Century Fox. "We believe in the Society's mission of bringing the world to audiences through science, education, and exploration... We're very excited and honored to work with the Society's extraordinary explorers, scientists, and visual storytellers to propel their incredible work to audiences around the globe."

For more information, view the press release.

Fox Filmed Entertainment, Knowledge & Exploration

Finalists Announced for 'Hacking Mars' STEM Design Contest from Fox and Microsoft

Microsoft has announced the three finalists for the Hacking Mars Design Challenge, a unique online science and technology competition developed exclusively around the new Fox film The Martian. Teams consisting of students, academics, and professionals designed projects to aid the film's lead character Mark Watney (Matt Damon) while he is stranded alone on Mars. Of these three finalists, one winning team will collect a $25,000 grand prize and travel to Microsoft to experience the company's groundbreaking HoloLens technology.

"We're really excited about this wave of storytelling in film [and] in literature that's talking about space travel and reigniting a lot of passion for the stars," said Matt Marshall, a creative technologist and video game designer from Vancouver who led one of the finalist teams. "We want to be a part of that."

The Hacking Mars Design Challenge was inspired by 20th Century Fox's fall film The Martian, directed by Ridley Scott and adapted from Andy Weir's novel of the same name. The film follows Watney as he finds himself stranded on Mars alone after a botched mission. With limited supplies, he must find a way to survive and signal Earth that he is still alive.

The contest invited teams to research and submit a three to five minute video about a produce, service, app, or game that would address one of three challenges: helping Watney stay alive (grow food, filter air, produce water), pass the time (keep hope alive, deal with isolation and stress), and get home (communicate with Earth).

Marshall's team took on the Stay Alive challenge and developed a detailed plan for a new Modular Sensor system to monitor radiation, temperature, atmospheric pressure, oxygen, moisture, and carbon dioxide in the Mars station that Watney inhabits, allowing him to better manage his crops, track problems, and make repairs.

Keshia Godin of OCAD University led a team of inclusive designers to create what they call the Environment Cocoon, which uses hologram projection to create familiar experiences from Watney's life on Earth, such as gathering with his family at home or walking through his local park. The final team designed a new technology for Watney to contact his loved ones, called NOVA Cards, which capture an image and haptic recordings of his heartbeat.

Of these three finalists, Microsoft will select one grand prize winner, awarding them $25,000 and a trip to Microsoft in Redmond, Washington, to experience the company's new HoloLens technology, which enables high-definition holograms to come to life in the real world, seamlessly integrating with physical spaces. Microsoft is currently teaming with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory to use HoloLens to provide virtual aid to astronauts working on the International Space Station.

For more information on the finalists' projects and to learn more about the contest, visit Microsoft.com.

Fox Filmed Entertainment, Sustainability, Twentieth Century Fox Television

20th Century Fox Partners with U.S. Department of Energy to Build Greener Film Studios


In November 2010, 20th Century Fox was selected for an innovative multi-year project with the U.S. Department of Energy's Commercial Buildings Partnership to address the environmental impacts generated by its film and television productions. As part of the program, the nation's top researchers developed a new sustainability strategy for the soundstages at the Fox Studios Lot in Los Angeles, many of which date back as far as the 1920s and have unusual use and load characteristics that make it difficult to accurately measure and manage their energy consumption. This in-depth analysis from the experts at the DOE allowed Fox to take a considerable step forward in mitigating its unique sustainability challenges. The studio is now saving 2.6 million kilowatt hours per year as a direct result of this program and expects the savings to increase in coming years as it continues to roll out the new strategy. In addition, Fox's willingness to share its findings publicly has given the industry at large the critical resources for building a more efficient, responsible business.

The DOE launched the Commercial Buildings Partnership in 2010 as a way to encourage market leaders to adopt energy-saving technologies and practices, offering participants access to state-of-the-art technical guidance rather than direct funding. For the project with Fox, leading scientists and engineers from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), as well as their consultants from Arup, Glumac, and the Constructive Technologies Group (CTG), provided detailed energy tracking of the stages at Fox Studios and designed a plan to increase their efficiency, primarily through major retrofits to the stages' cooling system.

The team discovered early on that production lighting drew most of the power at the soundstages. Filming requires the sustained use of powerful, high-quality lighting equipment, and the lights generate a considerable amount of heat, meaning that they not only draw power themselves but also force the stages' cooling system to work that much harder. Since a viable energy-efficient alternative to production lights has yet to be identified, the team determined that the lot's cooling system showed the most potential for energy saving.

stage interior.jpg

However, as the team studied the system and the stages it serves, challenges began to mount. The stages, many of which were built during the 1920s, consist of large, single-zone spaces without windows and with limited insulation, and despite their 40-50 foot ceilings, cooling needs to occur at floor level. In addition, the sets constructed within the stage space often obstruct the flow of air, and the cooling system is frequently turned off during filming due to the high level of noise it creates. As a result, the stages are regularly over-cooled to accommodate for the disruptions in cooling.

The team spent the following year developing and implementing an innovative set of sustainability measures to increase the efficiency of the cooling system, including upgrading house lighting to LED lighting where possible, adding new chiller units to the cooling system, and gradually taking buildings off the open-loop cooling system and adding them to the closed loop.

In total, the three-year project, which included a multi-million dollar investment from Fox, has yielded energy savings of more than 2.6 million kilowatt hours per year, cost savings of approximately $1,000 per day, and CO2 emissions reductions of 1,081 tonnes per year. As Fox continues to replicate the EEMs at more and more buildings across the studio lot, the company also released its findings publicly to allow the rest of the film industry to undergo similar retrofits. The DOE has said that the EEMs are applicable to any large campus, office, or higher education facility, meaning that the work done at Fox will continue to resonate across multiple industries for years to come.

For more details, read our full case study on the partnership and read the detailed report from the Department of Energy.

Fox Networks Group (incl. FOX, Cable, Sports, etc.), Knowledge & Exploration, National Geographic Channel

Breakthrough Prize Ceremony Celebrating Scientists to Air on National Geographic Channel this Sunday and on FOX Nov. 29

On Sunday, Nov. 8, at 10/9c, 21st Century Fox's National Geographic Channel will host a live broadcast of the 2016 Breakthrough Prize Ceremony, an annual awards show honoring the work of today's leading scientists and mathematicians. Seth MacFarlane, executive producer of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey and creator of Family Guy, will return as host for the second consecutive year, and the ceremony will include appearances by presenters Russell Crowe, Hilary Swank, Lily Collins, Thomas Middleditch, and Martin Starr, as well as a performance by ten-time Grammy Award winner Pharrell Williams. An abridged one-hour version of the ceremony will air on the FOX network on Sunday, Nov. 29.

"We are proud to join forces with Don [Mischer, producer] and the Breakthrough Prize team not only to honor the best and brightest in science shaping the world of today and tomorrow, but also to bring this important event to the broadest global audience possible," said Courteney Monroe, CEO of National Geographic Channels U.S. "National Geographic was founded on the spirit of mavericks, and this partnership affords us the opportunity to continue this great tradition by recognizing those who are breaking barriers and expanding the limits of possibility."

Tech industry leaders Sergey Brin (Google), Anne Wojcicki (23andMe), Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan (Facebook), Yuri Milner and Julia Milner (DST Global), and Jack Ma and Cathy Zhang (Alibaba) launched the prize in 2012 in order to celebrate scientists and generate excitement about the pursuit of science as a career. As Yuri Milner explained in 2013, part of the goal is to make the pursuit of knowledge seem both exciting and profitable.

"Scientists are not making anywhere near what they should be making given the significance of what they're doing," he said. "In the last 50 years, we have evolved from a world where Einstein was the biggest celebrity to a world where the most famous scientist is not in the top few hundred celebrities in the world."

In contrast to the Nobel Prize, which tends to honor researchers near the end of their careers for their most influential achievements, the Breakthrough awards often go to younger scientists who have already made important discoveries but still have long careers ahead of them. To that end, the prize's founders have made the award one of the most lucrative honors in the world of science. Laureates receive $3 million in prize money, more than three times the Nobel stipend of roughly $940,000.

This year, for the first time, the ceremony will also feature the Breakthrough Junior Challenge for students, which will award $400,000 in educational prizes to a student whose original video brings to life a scientific or mathematical idea or principle.

"It is an honor to partner with the Breakthrough Prize team to celebrate the incredible men and women who are driving the world's most significant scientific advances," said Gary Newman and Dana Walden, chairmen and CEOs, Fox Television Group. "We hope that by showcasing these great minds and their important work to millions of viewers, we can help them inspire the next generation of scientists."

The 2016 Breakthrough Prize Ceremony will air on Sunday, Nov. 8, at 10/9 c, following an all-new episode of the science documentary series Breakthrough from producers Ron Howard and Brian Grazer. The series brings to life the stories, people, and technology behind the world's most cutting-edge scientific innovations through six documentary films each directed by a prominent Hollywood star.

For more information on the Breakthrough Prize Ceremony, visit NationalGeographic.com.

Corporate, Creativity & The Arts, Diversity, Fox Networks Group (incl. FOX, Cable, Sports, etc.), Twentieth Century Fox Television

21st Century Fox Sponsors American Foundation for AIDS Research Gala Honoring Ryan Murphy


At its sixth annual Inspiration Gala Los Angeles at Milk Studios on October 29, the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR) honored television writer Ryan Murphy with its Award of Inspiration for his contributions to the fight against HIV and AIDS. Murphy, whose series include Glee and Scream Queens for FOX, as well as American Horror Story for FX, has consistently given voices to LGBT characters in his television and film projects. 21st Century Fox was a Platinum Sponsor of the event and served as Vice Chair, along with Fox Television Group and FX Networks.

"I don't believe marriage equality would have happened... without television and gay characters," Murphy said during his acceptance speech. "I have always known that if characters can come into your living rooms, they become real to you. They become like family members... And Glee and Modern Family are given a lot of credit for ushering in this constitutional gift."

Murphy also thanked the executives at Fox who helped produce his series and shepherd them to air, including Dana Walden and Gary Newman, who run both the Fox television studio and the FOX network as heads of Fox Television Group, as well as Peter Rice, Chairman and CEO of Fox Networks Group.

"The true heroes here are our allies who backed these shows and got them made," he said. "They believed in everyone's right to have a voice and to be equal in our world."

Murphy also pledged to serve as a "lifelong ambassador" for amfAR, which has invested more than $388 million and awarded more than 3,300 grants to scientist conducting AIDS research since its founding in 1985. The organization has helped lay the groundwork for major advances in the study and treatment of HIV/AIDS and aims to develop a cure for the disease by the year 2020.

The Inspiration Gala Los Angeles event, which featured a charity auction hosted by Andrew Fiuczynski and amfAR's Global Campaign Chair Sharon Stone, raised more than $3.1 million for the organization's work. In just the past six years, the Inspiration series has raised more than $20 million to benefit amfAR and has been held in cities such as New York, São Paulo, Paris, Toronto, and Miami.

Actress Julia Roberts, who presented Murphy with the Award of Inspiration, drew a comparison between Murphy and the organization's dedicated work. "amfAR and Ryan Murphy are a perfect pair because Ryan is as a person very much like this organization -- tireless in the pursuit of learning, healing, of correctness, connection and equality," she said. "Ryan Murphy is an inspiration."

For more information, visit amfAR.org, and for a detailed recap of the event, visit The Hollywood Reporter.

Knowledge & Exploration, National Geographic Channel

National Geographic Channel Premieres 'Breakthrough,' New Science Documentary Series from Ron Howard and Brian Grazer

On Sunday, November 1, 21st Century Fox's National Geographic Channel launched the first episode of Breakthrough, a new documentary series produced by Ron Howard and Brian Gazer in which six Hollywood visionaries bring to life the stories, people, and technology behind the world's most cutting-edge scientific innovations. Sunday's premiere highlighted the work of scientists fighting against global pandemics, and future episodes will tackle subjects as diverse as alternative energy, water conservation, and anti-aging technology from directors such as Paul Giamatti, Angela Bassett, and Howard himself. Breakthrough airs Sundays at 9/8 c on National Geographic Channel.

"Our premise in the series was to take a look at so many of the exciting and fascinating scientific breakthroughs on the near horizon," Howard told National Geographic online. "And from there, to understand who the scientists are who are asking the tough questions and confronting the challenges. What are the controversies around those issues? Why can't breakthroughs be immediate? That's the energy we hope to capture."

To tell these stories, Howard and Grazer recruited six prominent Hollywood stars to each direct a documentary about a given scientific subject, while putting the scientists and their work front and center. The premiere episode was directed by Peter Berg and followed those who take action when Ebola or other outbreaks occur, as well as those who are searching for tools to counter HIV, influenza, malaria, and other diseases.

"The general mission was, let's take science, these hot-button issues and look at it from a storyteller's eye," Howard told USA Today. "Let's find the hope in it. Let's find the heroism."

Using research materials from both GE and the National Geographic Society, Grazer and Howard considered more than 100 scientific topics for the series, eventually landing on biotechnology (featured in Paul Giamatti's "More Than Human," airing Nov. 8), neuroscience (featured in Brett Ratner's "Decoding the Brain," airing Nov. 15), anti-aging technology (featured in Howard's "The Age of Aging," airing Nov. 29), alternative energy (featured in Akiva Goldsman's "Energy from the Edge," airing Dec. 6), and water conservation (featured in Angela Bassett's "Water Apocalypse," airing Dec. 13).

Ultimately, while these episodes often feature explorations into the world's most pressing scientific concerns, Grazer, Howard, and their team of directors felt a keen responsibility to demonstrate how the featured scientists' work offers solutions to these problems, as well.

"We all want to create hope in all of these areas," Grazer told The Hollywood Reporter. "So, it was about orienting people to these problems and showing audiences how they can participate in the solutions."

As part of its dedication to celebrating the work of scientists and researchers, National Geographic Channel will also broadcast this year's Breakthrough Prize Ceremony, an awards show honoring the world's leading scientists and mathematicians, at 10/9 c on Sunday, Nov. 8. Seth MacFarlane, executive producer of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey and creator of Family Guy, will host the ceremony, which honors important achievements in the fields of Fundamental Physics, Life Sciences, and Mathematics.

Breakthrough airs Sundays at 9:00PM ET / 8:00PM CT on National Geographic Channel. For more information, as well as digital extras, exclusive content, and full episodes, visit NationalGeographic.com, and be sure to view the trailer below: