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The Hot Zone: Anthrax - What We Know So Far

In 2019, National Geographic aired the first season of the drama anthology series "The Hot Zone." Based on the nonfiction book of the same name by Richard Preston, the series centers around U.S. Army scientist Nancy Jaax (Julianna Margulies) as she confronts the onset of the Ebola virus.

Originally meant to be a one-time limited series, Nat Geo announced a second season in November of 2020 after considering the major popularity of its initial season, as reported by Deadline. Considering "The Hot Zone" became the channel's most watched scripted series ever, it makes sense that National Geographic would branch out for other material in order to keep the show going in an anthology format. That "other material" turned into its upcoming second series, "The Hot Zone: Anthrax," which will chronicle the drama surrounding the 2001 anthrax attacks. Fans will be happy to know that the first season's executive producers and showrunners, Kelly Souders and Brian Peterson, will return for the Season 2.

Here's everything else we know so far about "The Hot Zone: Anthrax."

When will The Hot Zone: Anthrax be released?

It was announced last week that "The Hot Zone: Anthrax" will air on National Geographic on Sunday, November 28, as reported by Deadline. The six episodes will air over three consecutive nights, which is the same format that the first season followed.

Upon the initial announcement of the followup season, Carolyn Bernstein, EVP of Global Scripted Content and Documentary Films at Nat Geo, told Deadline, "The gripping, propulsive story of the hunt for the anthrax killer who terrorized the country in the dark days that followed the Sept. 11 attack couldn't be more timely. As the world battles COVID-19, another deadly and mysterious virus, 'The Hot Zone: Anthrax' is a scientific thriller for our time."

By the time November rolls around, COVID will hopefully be at its tail end, but viewers are still bound to feel an intense connection watching the events of this other "deadly and mysterious virus."

Who will be in The Hot Zone: Anthrax?

As announced in January, the cast of "The Hot Zone: Anthrax" will be led by "Lost" breakout Daniel Dae Kim and "Scandal" star Tony Goldwyn (via The Wrap). Goldwyn will play Bruce Ivins, a microbiologist who becomes involved in the search for the person behind the anthrax attacks. In the course of his involvement with the investigation, Bruce himself becomes a suspect in the events. Meanwhile, Kim will play FBI Agent Matthew Ryker, whose speciality is also microbiology. Matthew plays a key role in launching an investigation into these deadly attacks.

A representative for National Geographic told The Wrap that while Goldwyn's Bruce is a real person from the 2001 events, Kim's character, Matthew, is a composite of various agents who were involved in the investigation. Carolyn Bernstein of Nat Geo said in a statement that Goldwyn and Kim are both "wonderfully versatile and dimensional actors" and that the team at Nat Geo "can't wait for their star turns in this startling, authentic and timely scientific thriller."

The supporting cast includes Dawn Olivieri, Ian Colletti, Dylan Baker, Denyce Lawton, and Vanessa Matsui.

What will The Hot Zone: Anthrax be about?

In 2001, in the aftermath of 9-11, another attack began: the anthrax letters. Journalists and politicians received letters containing anthrax powder (an infectious material), resulting in the deaths of five people and the infection of 17 others. As per the official synopsis, the series "follows FBI Special Agent Matthew Ryker (Kim) as he tracks down the killer, finding himself ensnared in an unstable web of psychological warfare. Bruce Ivins (Goldwyn) is the brilliant microbiologist who becomes embroiled in the hunt" (via Collider).

The anthrax attacks may be a well known historic event, but the series plans to pull back the curtain to reveal the details of the investigation. Co-showrunner Kelly Souders said in a statement, "While many of us can recall the breaking news headlines and the widespread fear that ensued when anthrax emerged in America, there are still layers to this story that have not yet been told. The second season of our anthology series will dive deep into the forensic investigation of a simple envelope that sent the entire Eastern Seaboard into a panic" (via Deadline).

We can't wait to see how the gripping story unfolds.