It was kind of a funny day for National Geographic to release its slate of new scripted development projects, ranging from “The Birth of the Pill” to the Ebola drama “The Hot Zone” to a project about the early days of Nat Geo from the writer of “UnReal” — as well as a second season of its “Mars.”
Because as they were unveiling all their plans, they were forced to comment on the person with whom they had done the bulk of their most successful scripted work so far — Bill O’Reilly.
The Fox News bloviator and chief star had been dismissed from the network Wednesday after years of complaints of sexual harassment and reported payouts of at least $15 million to at least five different women. It wasn’t his short fuse or his raging racism — completed neatly on “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah” hours after the announcement. And it wasn’t even sexual harassment, which the network had heard about for years. It was the number of advertisers leaving Fox following the most recent reporting by the New York Times that obviously changed the tune of the Murdochs running the network, following another sexual abuse scandal that resulted in the ouster of Fox News chief Roger Ailes last year.
O’Reilly’s array of co-written historical potboilers — “Killing Lincoln,” “Killing Kennedy,” “Killing Reagan” and “Killing Jesus” among them — have become top rated adaptations for National Geographic, whose majority owner is Fox News parent 21st Century Fox.
A spokesman for Nat Geo Wednesday said there were no plans to sever ties with O’Reilly and plans were continuing for its next project “Killing Patton,” due in 2019, even as circumstance was conspiring to be Killing O’Reilly’s career at Fox News.
“We’re focused on 2018 right now,” a spokesman said.