Current taps programmer

Shelley Lewis to head up programming

Current TV has appointed Air America co-creator Shelley Lewis to head up programming at the fledgling cabler.

Lewis will report to Current prexy David Bohrman.

The hire is a strong indicator of the next steps for Current, which aspires to retool itself as a 24-hour news-and-commentary net in the vein of a less corporately connected MSNBC.

Execs and the net’s new star, Keith Olbermann, have said that their independence keeps them from being beholden to the interests of big business, although it does put them in a vulnerable place in terms of distribution; unlike other small cablers owned by larger corporations, Current TV isn’t sold to cable providers in a suite with more powerful networks. If News Corp, for example, wants to boost Fox Business Network’s distribution, it can sell FBN in a package with ratings superstar Fox News. Current has no such safety net.

The network says its solution will be multiplatform vieweing.

Lewis is “a great idea person and team leader and has the perfect combination of relationships, experience and entrepreneurial drive to help us establish Current as a new kind of multiscreen news experience for a new kind of news viewer,” Bohrman said.

And the cabler’s audience has been growing thanks largely to Olbermann’s following. Olbermannites helped to boost Current’s ratings to historical highs when the commentator’s program — entitled “Countdown,” as was his MSNBC show — premiered earlier this year.

Lewis’ experience in television includes stints at CNN and ABC News, where she exec produced “American Morning With Paula Zahn” and “Good Morning America” from 1997 to 1998, respectively.

Bohrman and Lewis aren’t strangers — the two worked together at the Alphabet on “World News Now.”