The decision came less than two months after O’Reilly was ousted from Fox News after a string of sexual harassment claims against him became public, though National Geographic said the cancellation was a creative decision.
Fox News is a subsidiary of 21st Century Fox, which owns a majority stake in National Geographic.
“It was in development for a couple of years, and it was a difficult project to crack creatively,” National Geographic said in a statement to the Hollywood Reporter. “Like most projects in development, it didn’t go the distance, so we passed on it.”
The network previously created and aired four documentaries based on O’Reilly’s popular “Killing” series. Three focused on the final days and deaths of Abraham Lincoln, Jesus and John F. Kennedy. The network also adapted his book about the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan.
These documentaries performed strongly, averaging 3.1 million viewer in live-plus-same-day Nielsen ratings, Variety reported.
It is unclear what made this newest adaptation more “difficult to crack creatively” than the previous stories. The network is not making its executives available for interview, the Associated Press reported.
The network announced its decision to adapt “Killing Patton” in 2015, predicting a release date of 2019. At the time, O’Reilly spoke of the series’ “winning streak,” adding, “I’m very confident our continued partnership will yield a gripping film about General Patton’s tragic death.”
When O’Reilly’s ousting was announced in April, a National Geographic spokesman told Variety the “Killing Patton” adaptation was slated for 2019 and, “We’re focused on 2018 right now. We’re not making any decisions today.”
A spokesman from his publisher, Macmillan’s Henry Holt, said at the time, “Our plans have not changed” on O’Reilly’s future entries in the book series.
The newest “Killing” book, “Killing England: The Brutal Struggle for American Independence,” which will focus on the American Revolution, will be published on Sept. 19.
Regarding the sexual harassment claims, O’Reilly has long denied any wrongdoing.