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CNN Lines Up Docuseries ‘The Sixties’ with Tom Hanks, Gary Goetzman (Exclusive)

Debut of the nonfiction series to coincide with the anniversary of JFK's death

CNN is headed back in time with “The Sixties,” a 10-part documentary series from Tom Hanks, Gary Goetzman and Mark Herzog.

Each episode will explore key moments of the 1960s, with archival newsreel footage, personal movies, and interviews with eyewitnesses to history. Historians including David McCullough, Robert Dallek and Robert Caro will lend their voices to the docuseries, along with veteran journos Dan Rather and Robert MacNeil.

Hanks is exec producing alongside Goetzman through their shingle Playtone, and Herzog through Herzog & Company.

10-part series will kick off in November with a special 90-minute episode titled “The Assassination of JFK (1963),” coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the murder of President John F. Kennedy. Docuseries will then return to CNN’s lineup in April, with segs focused on music, tech advancements, drugs and the “free love” movement.

The concept for “The Sixties” was initially conceived by CNN prez Jeff Zucker, who was impressed by Herzog-produced telepic “Killing Lincoln” on Nat Geo, according to Vinnie Malhotra, senior veep of development and acquisitions for CNN.

In casual conversations about the forthcoming anniversary of JFK’s assassination, The Beatles, and the civil rights movement, Malhotra recalled, “Jeff finally said, ‘Why wouldn’t we look at this more as a series and examine the ripple effects and how they’ve affected society today?'”

CNN isn’t the first to get into the revisited decade game in cable, as VH1’s quirky “I Love The…” series rolled out in 2002 and examined the ’70s, ’80s, ’90s and 2000s. Nat Geo recently unveiled its effort in the nostalgia space with “The ’80s: The Decade That Made Us,” and already has a followup planned with “The ’90s: The Last Great Decade.”

With its panel of esteemed historians and journalists, however, CNN aims to bring a more news-conscious edge to its visitation of the 1960s.

“What we really want to do is reintroduce the story and the impact of that decade, and make it relevant to the audience that has great familiarity with it, while also appealing to a younger generation,” Malhotra stated. “It goes beyond just a history lesson. There are heavy subjects we’ll take on, but we were adamant to look at the ’60s in terms of its influence on pop culture and America, as well.”

Zucker added, “Projects like this are emblematic of exactly the type of programming that we need more of, signifying a new direction and expanded sensibility at CNN.”

“The Sixties” will be a part of CNN’s primetime lineup next year, with Malhotra noting, “We’re looking at it as a major television event.”

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