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NHNZ Docudrama Lands Prime Time Coup in US

Media Release
Tuesday November 6th, 2007

NHNZ Docudrama Lands Prime Time Coup in US

NHNZ's first docudrama Orangutan Island has scored a prime time slot on Animal Planet where it premiered in the United States on Friday (November 2).

Produced for Animal Planet, Orangutan Island offers 13 half hour episodes of unique docudrama from the rainforest of Borneo and airs during the channel's prime time 8.30pm Friday slot - a position formerly held by the highly rated third season of Meerkat Manor.

The series has been an exciting challenge for NHNZ series producer Judith Curran who last hit the headlines after coming off second best following a close encounter with a leopard while filming in Africa.

Orangutan Island follows the progress of a group of orphaned Orangutans rescued by the Borneo Orangutan Survival International and placed at the Nyaru Menteng Rescue and Rehabilitation Center where they were taught how to survive at Forest School 103 under the watchful eye of project manager Lone Droscher-Nielsen.

The concept evolved following NHNZ's production of the series Growing Up Orangutan where previously orphaned Orangutans are rehabilitated and then repatriated to an island sanctuary.

"I began wondering what happened after the Orangutans were relocated. I knew they were the equivalent of ten-year-old human kids and, that Orangutans don't usually live in structured communities like their chimpanzee cousins so I was curious to discover what would be happening on an island of orphaned children. The story grew from there," Judith says.

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The result is a combination of Lord of the Flies and Lost presented in increasingly popular docudrama style that includes flashbacks from main characters' rescues allowing viewers to follow the trials and tribulations of the pre-pubescent primates as they forge their own community, deal with snakes and intruders and forge lasting friendships.

"With their natural habitat increasingly under threat due to illegal logging, the last chance the Forest School graduates have at living a comparatively free existence in the wild is to form a community and learn to live together," Judith explains.

Production of Orangutan Island began in December 2006. Orangutan Island will air on Animal Planet internationally in the third quarter of 2008.

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Read last week's New York Times review - 4 stars out of 4

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