Shark Week fans: A new Discovery series to sink your teeth into; Brad Paisley, Tiffany Haddish test the waters

Fans of Discovery’s Shark Week have a new series to sink their teeth into. The network will soon premiere its first shark series centered on marine scientist Dr. Riley Elliott and his crew, USA TODAY has exclusively learned.

“Shark Academy” will debut this summer during Shark Week, the network’s annual celebration of the ocean animal, which this year will feature celebrities including country singer Brad Paisley, comedian Tiffany Haddish and cast members from MTV’s early aughts stunt show “Jackass.” In recent years, the network has recruited famous faces like former NBA star Shaquille O’Neal, wrestler Ronda Rousey, quarterback Aaron Rodgers and actor Josh Duhamel for its popular Shark Week, which began airing in 1988.

On “Shark Academy,” eight hopefuls longing to work with Elliott will face off for a spot on his team for an upcoming shark diving adventure. The participants will work and live together for six weeks on a research boat while being challenged to see who is the best man or woman for the job. 

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Dr. Riley Elliott and Sophia Pallavicini are photographed observing Caribbean reef sharks. (Photo: Tom Cross)

“‘Shark Academy’ follows the most dangerous job interview in the world…one where you literally can come face to face with a shark,” Amy Introcaso-Davis, executive VP of factual programming for the network, said in an announcement. 

In a preview, Elliott teases the drama from testing the recruits’ mental and physical strength and housing them together.

“This is no vacation,” he says. “My recruits will be living at sea, sharing cramped quarters, and put to work on board. It’s a pressure-cooker environment. They’ll fight, they’ll flirt, but they’ll need to stay focused.”

In an early episode, Elliott reminds the participants of the high stakes: “You’re gonna get bit if you don’t start learning faster.”

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