Now that the series has a premiere date — Sunday, March 9 — the question has morphed slightly. It’s now, “Do you think FOX viewers will watch?”
Obviously everyone involved, from host Neil deGrasse Tyson to executive producer Seth MacFarlane, hopes so. The hope, MacFarlane says Monday (Jan. 13) at the TCA winter press tour, is that airing the show on a broadcast network will help the series cast a wide net.
“I met Neil through an organization … called the Science and Entertainment Exchange and found out he was working with Ann [Druyan, Carl Sagan’s widow and EP of the new series] on doing a new ‘Cosmos,'” MacFarlane says. “And I said while National Geographic, Discovery Channel and some of the places it was being considered to be pitched to are great networks, in a way you’re sort of preaching to the converted. Wouldn’t it be nice to broaden it a little bit more?”
Tyson says he met MacFarlane over lunch, and the first question MacFarlane asked him was what he could do to “make a difference in science.” “I said, ‘Is this the Seth MacFarlane who illustrates Stewie? Is this the same guy?'” Tyson says. “That was my first indication that he had some deep, genetic roots in wanting to make a difference in this world.”
MacFarlane says the new “Cosmos” is true to the spirit of Sagan’s 1980 PBS series and its sense of wonder about the universe. Druyan says that notion should play perfectly well to FOX viewers.
“‘Cosmos’ is about opening the door to the widest possible audience to entertain them, to uplift them, to make them feel the awesome power fo the scientific perspective,” Druyan says. “I don’t see any contradiction here. … We wanted to evoke in people who might even have had hostility to science, a sense of wonder, or to excite people who thought science was just too challenging. … I don’t see any problem at all. If you have a sense of humor, you love those shows, and if you have a beating heart, you’ll respond to ‘Cosmos.'”
“Cosmos” premieres at 9 p.m. ET Sunday, March 9 on FOX and will run for 13 weeks. Episodes will re-air at 10 p.m. Sundays on National Geographic Channel.