Smithsonian-Showtime TV unit to announce first shows

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[The Smithsonian Institution's joint TV unit with Showtime Networks Inc., slated to launch in April,] is set to announce Monday about a half-dozen of its initial 60 programs, including a co-production deal with the BBC's flagship "Timewatch" history series and documentaries focusing on the Smithsonian's treasured artifacts.

David Royle, executive vice president for programming and production at Smithsonian Networks, said the goal is to do more than "merely museum television" with programs that are "entertaining, informative and fun."

[Tom] Cavanagh will host the six-part series "Stories from the Vaults" from the back rooms of the world's largest museum and research complex, which houses millions of items from art, history, technology and science...

Smithsonian Networks, which was announced last March, plans to spend at least $10 million for more than 130 hours of programming each year. Museum representatives will check the programs for accuracy and to ensure they align with Smithsonian standards...

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