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New Series Shows ‘Africa Through the Eyes of Africans'

24 Aug, 2001 By: John Jimenez

Thoughts of Africa conjure images of famine and disease for many Westerners. That's what National Geographic hopes to change with itsrelease Africa, an eight-part television series and home video releaseco-produced with WNET Channel 13 in New York and distributed by WarnerHome Video.

The five-volume VHS and four-disc DVD release streets Sept. 11 at $74.98 on VHS and $99.98 on DVD.

The important thing about the series, says Catherine Hagney, senior v.p. of new business development at National Geographic TV, is that it "explores Africa through the eyes of Africans. Each episode will feature particular individuals as they tell the stories of their different regions of Africa," she says, making it alittle different than the usual wildlife-focused African programs.

Africa explores the culture, religion, art, history, ecology and wildlife of the continent and is meant to give Westerners an accurateview of what life is like in Africa today, Hagney says.

Africa has been in production for more than four years. Both the cassette and DVD will include a documentary on the making of the series that won't be shown on television.

"We're not adding extras to the DVD," Hagney says. "But the beautiful richness of the photography is going to be exquisite on DVD."

The series will begin airing on PBS Sept. 9, just two days before the video release, and will run for eight weeks. Hagney believes thecorresponding television run will support the home video release.

"[Timing video releases with the TV episodes is] something we want to do increasingly. They work hand-in-hand to support each other," she says."We want to make sure it's in the stores at the time [viewers] are most interested."

National Geographic will promote the title with a blitz of Africa information in September, including an art exhibit; features on National Geographic's Web site; and related products like a companion coffee table book and educational and outreach materials. National Geographic magazine, which reaches 50 million people, will also run a conservationpiece on Africa.

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