If it looks like a National Geographic Special and sounds like a National Geographic Special, it must be a National Geographic Special, right?
Wrong. Just because "Cougar: Ghost of the Rockies" has the heart-warming scent of a wildlife special and just because Richard Kiley narrates in his familiar Geographic tone, that doesn't mean it's a Geographic special. Not in the end, anyway.
"Cougar" is the first in an ABC series called "World of Discovery." For this hour-long special, wildlife photographer Jim Dutcher and mountain lion specialist Morris Hornocker spent two years recording the life of a cougar and her three kittens. Some of the footage -- especially when the big cat gets very familiar with the documentarians -- is quite striking.
The series is the result of a five-year arrangement between ABC and Dennis B. Kane, for some 17 years the producer of Geographic's TV specials, as well as the developer of Geographic's "Explorer" cable series. So there is a Geographic connection. Indeed, Kane acknowledged, had he not cut his deal for 25 specials with ABC, "Cougar," already in production, would likely have been a Geographic program.
Kane has other specials in the works, though, some of which sound more like candidates for a Time-Life Books of the Bizarre series than Geographic specials.
"One of the things we'll be doing is a thing called 'Vampire,'" said Kane. Another is "The Secret Life of 118 Green Street," a project "which is about all the life that lives on you and in your home that you don't know is there ... This kind of stuff we wouldn't have done at the Geographic."