The Hot Zone is an American television drama miniseries based on the 1994 book of the same name by Richard Preston which recounts the true story of the origins of the Ebola virus, a highly infectious deadly virus from the central African rain forest, and its first arrival on US soil.
In 1989, in a scientific facility outside Washington, DC, the deadly Ebola virus made its first known appearance on US soil.
The finding — and eventual containment — of this lethal filovirus, which had a fatality rate of up to 90% at the time, was thanks to a group of courageous scientists and soldiers led by Lieutenant Colonel Nancy Jaax.
Julianna Margulies (The Good Wife) stars as Nancy Jaax in this harrowing tale of a global crisis that never was.
Joining her is Noah Emmerich (The Americans) as Jaax's husband, Lieutenant Colonel Jerry Jaax, who does not hesitate to risk his life during the operation to contain the Ebola virus.
Also starring is Topher Grace (That '70s Show) as Dr. Peter Jahrling, a virologist for the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, who butts heads with Nancy Jaax over the best way to contain the virus.
Liam Cunningham (Game of Thrones) stars as Dr. Wade Carter, Nancy's vital ally in the race to prevent the virus from spreading; and James D'Arcy (Homeland) is Travis Rhodes, a Center for Disease Control official and Carter's former assistant and current nemesis.
Paul James (The Path) guest stars as Ben Gellis, a lab tech at the pathology lab in Virginia, assisting Nancy and Dr. Jahrling.
Also recurring are Robert Wisdom (The Wire) as Colonel Vernon Tucker of the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID), Jaax's superior; Robert Sean Leonard (House), who plays Walter Humboldt, the liaison between Hazleton, a scientific research corporation, and its primate lab in Virginia; and Grace Gummer (Mr. Robot) as Melinda Rhodes, one of the first people to chase the virus into the jungle.
The Hot Zone begins with a terrifying look back to 1980, when an unsuspecting doctor in Kenya examines a patient with symptoms unlike anything seen before.
Flashing forward to 1989, a colony of primates has become sick at a research facility in Virginia, just over 30 kilometres from the US capital, and sample tissues are sent to Nancy Jaax (Margulies), a lieutenant colonel with USAMRIID, the US Army's main facility for defensive research into countermeasures against biological warfare.
Jaax's instincts and experience tell her she is seeing something far worse than a run-of-the-mill primate infection.
Despite the skepticism of her colleagues Dr. Peter Jahrling (Grace) and Col. Vernon Tucker (Wisdom), but with the support of her husband, Lt. Col. Jerry Jaax (Emmerich), a US Army veterinarian, and her mentor Dr. Wade Carter (Cunningham), she pushes forward to find the truth.
Through Nancy's perseverance, scientific testing reveals the dire truth of the situation, forcing the Army into action to contain an outbreak.
The series also flashes back to the late 1970s to see how Dr. Carter and Travis Rhodes (D'Arcy) first tracked, studied and attempted to contain Ebola in Africa.
But will the lessons they learned help stop this disease from hitting the human population?
A dramatic, high-stakes scientific thriller with a courageous and determined heroine at its core, The Hot Zone brings true science and human drama together.
The Hot Zone is executive produced by Lynda Obst Production's Lynda Obst; Scott Free Production's Ridley Scott; and David Zucker, Kelly Souders, and Brian Peterson.
Michael Uppendahl is also an executive producer. Jeff Vintar serves as a co-executive producer.
For National Geographic, Carolyn G. Bernstein is executive vice president and head of global scripted development and production.
The series is produced by Fox 21 Television Studios, Lynda Obst Productions and Scott Free Productions.