Weston roots: Born to Explore snags two Daytime Emmy nominations

Richard Wiese and the Born to Explore crew at elephant polo, Jaipur, India.

Richard Wiese and the Born to Explore crew at elephant polo, Jaipur, India.

The ABC weekly series Born to Explore has been nominated for two Daytime Entertainment Emmy Awards. The show is hosted by Richard Wiese of Weston. Executive producers are Mr. Wiese and Mercedes Velgot, also of Weston.

The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences nominated Born to Explore in two categories: Outstanding Travel Program and Outstanding Achievement in Single-Camera Photography.

Born to Explore is an educational program airing on ABC on Saturday mornings. It takes viewers around the world in adventures with Mr. Wiese, an explorer. “We hope to inspire our audience with a glimpse into hidden people and places,” Mr. Wiese said.

This has been a successful year for the two-year-old series. Earlier in 2013, the show received a Telly Award for cultural programming, and a Parents’ Choice Gold Award for excellence in programming for teens. It is a finalist in the Cynopsis Kids !magination Awards.

Cinematographer John Barnhardt joins Mercedes Velgot and Richard Wiese at last year’s Daytime Emmy Awards celebration.

Cinematographer John Barnhardt joins Mercedes Velgot and Richard Wiese at last year’s Daytime Emmy Awards celebration.

This is the second year Born to Explore was nominated for a Daytime Emmy. “To be recognized with two Emmy nominations is more than we ever anticipated and we are deeply grateful. We are proud for a lot of reasons for the people who work on Born to Explore,” Mr. Wiese said.

Ms. Velgot said it was a pleasant surprise to find out about the Emmy nominations. “We’re a small show and we are up against the big boys, so just a nomination is enough. To be recognized by our peers is a thrill beyond words,” she said.

Born to Explore is up against the shows Equitrekking, Jack Hanna’s Into the Wild, and Over Hawaii for Outstanding Travel Program.

The show’s cinematographer, John Barnhardt, and cameraman Gregory Harriott are nominated for single-camera photography. Winners will be announced June 14 and June 16.

Born to Explore is like a family, Ms. Velgot explained. She has been friends for years with Mr. Wiese, and both like working from Weston so they can be close to their families.

The show’s senior producer, Andy Ames, is from Redding.

In many ways, they feel like the Little Engine That Could, Ms. Velgot said, because they don’t have a big budget like other travel programs. “It’s like David and Goliath. We’re the new kids on the block,” she said.

Mr. Wiese said one of the advantages of being a small company is that everyone gets along and works well together. But it’s a lot of work, he said.

For example, for the show in India, there were 24,000 film clips that had to be labeled individually, a long, tedious process.

“It’s a group effort to put out a good show. It’s hard work but worth it,” he said.

Diverse locations

Born to Explore is shot in diverse locations such as Australia, Chile, Iceland, and Canada. At the heart of every episode, Mr. Wiese celebrates world cultures, natural wonders and wildlife.

“We feel privileged to share these unique stories with our audience,” he said.

One particular episode that hit home was filmed in South Africa, where Mr. Weise’s wife, Nicci, is from. She is the founder of the Africa Foundation, which helps communities around game preserves.

While in South Africa, Mr. Wiese and his wife caught up with a principal who created a school for 250 kids based in part on funding from the Africa Foundation. “I sat in on a seventh grade English class and it rivaled Western schools in quality. I was very impressed by the level of dedication at this school,” Mr. Wiese said.

He also visited giant leatherback turtles in Rocktail Bay, South Africa, as they laid their eggs at night. “When you’re in places like this that are quiet and unspoiled, you have ‘a ha’ moments,” he said.

On Tuesday, May 14, Mr. Wiese will be visiting the Weston Intermediate School, where he hopes to show children how they can have their own a ha moments just by being observant.

“Looking carefully at things outside your back door can teach you a lot. For example, after the hurricane, with all the downed trees you could count tree rings and see how old a tree was. That’s part of history,” he said.

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