CMT is turning to an unusual place to get traction for its programming: the news business.
Viacom-owned cabler has hired longtime “60 Minutes” producer John Hamlin to the newly created position of senior veep of production and development, saying it wants to bring more topicality to its originals.
Hamlin, who will report to development chief Bob Kusbit, said he will look to bring a news sensibility to a number of potential programs, possibly including interview shows, inside-the-biz docu series and other nonscripteds that will go beyond promoting artists and music.
“I don’t envision bringing hard-news coverage to CMT, but I do want to bring a serious approach to covering music, country music and the music business,” Hamlin said in an interview.
Hamlin will officially be charged with overseeing all Nashville television production and development, including series, events and music production, CMT said.
CMT has made several forays into originals, announcing a series of specials with country stars like Martina McBride and a hidden-camera show from the producers of MTV’s “Boiling Point.” In the fall, net will bow “Ty Murray’s Celebrity Bull Riding Challenge,” a reality series that lets ordinary people try their hand at the sport.
But it has yet to find a signature show of the kind that has helped other cable nets break into the cultural mainstream.
Hamlin said he hopes the Nashville-based net drives programming trends instead of hewing more closely to formats devised in L.A. and New York, as some nets based in smaller cities do.
Net declined to specify how many additional series or specials it will now put on the air under Hamlin but did acknowledge that hiring repped an expansion of its originals strategy.
Hamlin worked at “60 Minutes” for 14 years, producing stories for reports from Ed Bradley and Mike Wallace on a number of entertainment subjects, including country-music stories on the likes of Keith Urban and Gretchen Wilson.
He also has a background in sports, producing a well-known Bradley story on Muhammad Ali.
Hamlin will stay on as a contributing producer at “60 Minutes” and work on occasional stories that don’t overlap with CMT’s focus.