CNN is turning to an interesting player in its ongoing effort to create original nonfiction series for primetime: itself.
When “The Wonder List,” anchored by Bill Weir, debuts this Sunday on the Time Warner-owned cable-network, the show won’t include a nod to an outside production company, as it does for such series as “Parts Unknown” featuring Anthony Bourdain or “The Hunt” with John Walsh. Weir’s program is produced inhouse.
As part of the proceedings, CNN viewers will be taken to remote locales like the Galapagos Islands or the Everglades to see what Weir described as “places that are precious in their current state” but face “forces of time or humanity coming down on them.” Filmmaker Philip Bloom joins Weir on his excursions.
What happens to India as the needs of a mammoth population surge? Who might be the last person to see a tiger in the wild? Can residents of a Greek isle who have a greater likelihood of living past 100 continue to do so as they are introduced to the trappings of modern civilization? Those are some the questions Weir believed will be answered by the program.
The show’s debut doesn’t mean CNN is looking to do more of its primetime series under its own aegis, said Jeff Zucker, president of CNN Worldwide, during a recent meeting with journalists. “If we have the right idea, and it makes more sense for us to do it inhouse, we’ll do it,” said Zucker, but there is no set strategy regarding the choice of producer for one of the network’s series.
Before joining CNN, Weir was a co-host of ABC’s “Nightline,” where he said a fast turnaround on stories was paramount. “Wonder List” gave him time to, well, have time, he said.
One of the topics “Wonder List” is likely to address is climate change, said Weir. The issue has proven polarizing in recent months. “The term is so loaded these days,” said Weir. Even though he sees “Wonder List” as “a hopeful series,” he acknowledges the show will feature some discussion about the effects of shifting consumption and geological patterns on Earth. “Yeah, it comes up. You can’t deny it.”
“The Wonder List” takes place over eight one-hour episodes, the first of which launches Sunday at 10 p.m.