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Magicians, daredevils and a 300-pound snake star in Discovery's four new series

April 14, 2011 |  9:54 am

PennTeller With the possible exception of that poor guy on "Man vs. Wild" who has to eat maggots, Discovery Channel stars always have the coolest jobs. So it's no surprise that when the channel hosted its 2011-2012 upfront on Thursday, there were magicians, exotic animal handlers, circus performers, and the "crème de la crème" of sheep-shearers featured among the four series the network picked up. A list of the new shows, with Discovery's own descriptions, follow below.

PENN & TELLER'S SECRETS OF THE UNIVERSE

Vegas show-stopping iconoclasts and world famous anti-magicians Penn & Teller bring their unique vision of the world to Discovery. Aided by a series of spectacular stunts, Penn & Teller reveal the secrets of the universe, answering the big, urgent questions of the modern world such as: Can you lift a 5,000-pound car with human hair? Does cursing help with pain management? And did ancient aboriginal Australians really create a cure for snoring? But there's a twist: Each episode presents up to 10 amazing stories, but one of them is a lie. A multiplatform audience will play along to guess the fake -– and only at the end of the show will it be unmasked.

BEST IN THE BUSINESS

Pitting farmer against farmer, fireman against fireman, florist against florist, "Best in the Business" is the ultimate battle of job-skill supremacy that celebrates the crème de la crème of the American workforce. Each episode showcases three average American jobs -- stonecutters, shelf-stockers, sheep-shearers -– and turns the spotlight on the not-so-average people who take their profession to the next level. Meet mechanics who can change a tire in less than 10 seconds, grocery baggers who fill a bag in seven seconds flat and big-rig drivers that can parallel park faster than you can throw your minivan in reverse!

SWAMP BROTHERS

Meet a different breed of brothers: Robbie Keszey is an exotic-animal expert and Stephen Keszey is a former city slicker learning the ropes. Together they run Glades Herp Farms, Florida’s largest reptile sanctuary and exotic-reptile dealership. The brothers make their living breeding and caring for hundreds of slithering, poisonous and sharp-toothed creatures -– but their passion is being on call 24 hours a day to respond to animal emergencies across the state. From a 300-pound boa constrictor to rogue bobcats pillaging local farmland, the brothers make it their business to track these animals down, capture them and return them to a safe environment –- without losing life or limb in the process. For the Keszeys, it’s all in a day's work.

LIFE ON A WIRE

Nik Wallenda comes from seven generations of daredevils that make up the famous circus family The Flying Wallendas. Nik is a daredevil for the 21st century, and along with his dad, who supervises the rigging and safety, he performs death-defying stunts. We follow his whole family (mom, dad, wife, kids) as they engineer and execute their life's passion.

--Melissa Maerz

Photo: Penn & Teller. Credit: Penn & Teller

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