CNN ‘Open’ To Airing Scripted Movies, Jeff Zucker Says

Jeff Zucker CNN Open
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CNN is “open” to the idea of airing scripted movies under its CNN Films banner, CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker said on Monday.

Zucker made his remarks at a lunch in Los Angeles promoting upcoming CNN Films documentaries, which he called one of the three foundational components of the network’s lineup, along with breaking news and the regular series that have become an increasing part of its mix.

The CNN chief stressed that there were no imminent plans to order scripted movies, and acknowledged that “some people would find it odd” to see such fare on the news network. Still, he said in response to a question, “I would not be opposed to that.”

CNN would hardly be the first network to bend its format to accommodate scripted fare. History, for example, broke from its niche first with unscripted series and eventually with miniseries, movies and even scripted dramatic series, such as “Vikings.” In addition, Fox News Channel did experiment back in 2007 with a satirical news program, “The 1/2 Hour News Hour,” which was quickly canceled.

CNN has expanded its presence in documentary-style series primarily as a hedge against the vagaries of the news cycle. Even so, as Zucker noted, introducing dramatic programming would likely invite criticism of the channel — already a lightning rod — in terms of potentially diluting its news brand.

Thus far, CNN Films has made noise with a roughly equal combination of acquisitions and commissioned documentaries, among them “Blackfish,” which chronicled the behavior of killer whales in captivity. The network has made its push during a boom time for documentaries, with players like Netflix and Showtime becoming aggressive in that area, where HBO has long been a dominant player.

Despite the glut of competition, Zucker noted CNN is particularly well positioned to support documentary films by engaging in further conversations about them through its “shoulder programming,” either via interviews on other CNN programs or in the digital space.

Upcoming titles that will air on CNN include “Life Itself,” director Steve James’ look at critic Roger Ebert; “Ivory Tower,” Andrew Rossi’s examination of the university system; and “Dinosaur 13,” filmmaker Todd Miller’s look at the controversy over a fossil discovery.

CNN also announced that it’s partnering with the Weinstein Co.’s Radius on an untitled film about sexual assaults on college campuses, directed by Kirby Dick and produced by Amy Ziering.

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  1. Davis says:

    Will CNN borrow some of the comic book super heroes Time Warner just bought to star in its “scripted movies?” I’m sure TW will want to maximize its hefty investment in rights to these colorful characters.

  2. Nicholas P. Schiavone says:

    Jeff Zucker never ceases to amaze or to shock. So here’s some simple advice for dealing with the effect he produces in the American Public: “Nausea is a feeling of unease and sickness that is hard to put words too, but that at some point or another most of us have been all too familiar with. Often times the pre-curser to vomiting, nausea is a miserable thing to experience. It can be caused for many reasons, from dehydration to food poisoning, morning sickness to motion sickness, medications to acid reflux. (from poor TV programming to bad TV scheduling). A lot of the time occasional nausea does not warrant a trip to the doctor-always exercise common sense when you make that decision-and there are quite a few natural and home remedies for nausea that you can try (like turning off CNN and other offending Turner Channels like HLN [Headline News]). Treating your nausea naturally tends to be less likely than stronger medications to be hard on your body, possibly making you feel worse rather than better.” In short, turn off the TV, change the channel or watch MSNBC, FOX News or BBC News. You’ll be glad you did.

    • TCM is my Wallpaper says:

      Oddly enough, when Turner’s CNN starts making me feel queasy, I turn to Turner’s Turner Classic Movies (or TCM) for relief. I find Bogie, Bacall, Stanwyck, Colbert, Brando, Gable and, yes, Doris Day, to be infinitely more palatable than any of the regular round-up of characters on CNN.

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