CNN gets down to earth in Gotham

Cabler to open street-level studio in Manhattan

In an effort to beef up its Gotham presence, CNN will open street-level studios in midtown Manhattan in mid 2002.

The studios, along with production and office facilities, will be located at the Time & Life Building, which is primarily occupied by CNN’s corporate sibling Time Inc.

“This studio will help CNN interact with the vibrant street life of Manhattan and with the journalists at Time Inc. magazines,” said Walter Isaacson, chairman and chief executive officer of the CNN News Group, who worked to develop the studios while he was editorial director of Time Inc.

Both the recently launched “Greenfield at Large” and the net’s flagship evening newscast, set to debut in the fall, will be produced from the new facility once it is completed. In addition, CNN is developing a morning show that would broadcast from the studio.

Ground good for studios

Fox News, ABC, NBC and CBS all have ground-level studios in midtown Manhattan — Fox News’ and NBC’s are just a stone’s throw from where the new CNN studios will be.

While the bulk of CNN’s New York operations will move to the AOL Time Warner world headquarters at Columbus Circle once it is completed in 2004, the new studios will remain open.

The new studios will help capture the energy of New York, Isaacson said. “It will help CNN be more lively and more interactive. It will feel less canned.”

Increased New York visibility could also help CNN nab more top network talent like Aaron Brown, who recently joined the news net from ABC News.

“Programming coming out of New York has a chance to attract certain talent,” said Isaacson, who emphasized that Atlanta “will continue to be the heart of all newsgathering at CNN.”

As part of an effort to increase synergy among AOL Time Warner outlets, the new studios will rely more on journalists from Time Inc. magazines.

“You’ll see more journalists on the air and more behind-the-scenes cooperation where it makes sense,” Isaacson said.

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