×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

CNN To Launch W. Kamau Bell Series, Steve Jobs Documentary In 2016

After finding success in filling its primetime schedule with documentary films and docu-series, CNN will continue the strategy in months to come, launching three new docu-series and five new efforts under its CNN Films banner in 2016.

W. Kamau Bell, the former FX host, and author Reza Aslan will each host a new docu-series, while actor Kevin Spacey will produce and narrate a new series focused on various Presidential races. Mike Rowe, John Walsh, Anthony Bourdain, Morgan Spurlock and Lisa Ling will all return for new seasons of their respective programs. CNN will co-produce five new films under its CNN Films unit, each of which is expected to debut in U.S. theaters before appearing on its U.S. network.

The original programming “is a really important part of our agenda of audience and advertiser growth,” said Jeff Zucker, president of CNN Worldwide, in an interview. “We have made a huge push in new original series, and the reason we have done that is to smooth out the peaks and valleys of the news cycle, so that between news cycles we have programming to offer, and to open ourselves to a different bucket of advertisers.” Zucker said CNN had gained 60 new advertisers through its original-series efforts.

The network is unveiling its new schedule in hopes of generating attention during the “upfront” market, the annual sales process during which U.S. TV networks try to sell the bulk of their ad inventory for the coming programming year. CNN has some reason to cheer: The network has seen many of its programs surpass those of rival cable-news outlet MSNBC in the ratings. CNN’s “New Day,” for example, is winning more viewers than MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

Already, said Donna Speciale, president of ad sales for CNN’s parent, Turner Broadcasting, CNN has hosted executives from various media agencies in recent days, touting not only the new primetime series, but CNN Money, the financial-news web site that recently came under CNN’s aegis after being shared with Time Inc.; CNN’ s political coverage; new efforts at sister cable network HLN; and digital efforts.

Zucker said advertisers could expect a stable lineup on CNN’s U.S. network after watching the network experiment for some time with new programs and concepts. “Our lineup is set now. It has been set now for several months,” he said. “We feel really good about where we are. We are stable. We are confident, and we are successful.”

Bell will host “United Shades of America,” a documentary series that looks at different cultures in the United States with provocative humor. Aslan will lead “Believer,” a series CNN is billing as a “spiritual adventure series” in which the author will immerse himself in the rituals of various faith-based cultures. “Shades” is produced by Objective Productions, part of All3Media, while “Believer” is produced by Whalerock Industries.

CNN’s original films include “Steve Jobs: The Man In The Machine,” directed by Alex Gibney. The movie takes a candid look at the former leader of Apple and is set to premiere at the film festival at SXSW in Austin on March 14. “Unseen Enemy,” directed and produced by Janet Tobias, will explore virulent viruses and bacteria that could start a global epidemic. The movie is slated to reach theaters in the fall of 2015.

“Sunshine Superman” is directed by Marah Strauch and profiles skydiver Carl Boenish through archival footage, aerial filmed photography and filmed re-enactments. An untitled film directed by Jenny Carchman will look at James Arthur Ray, a self-help guru who spent two years in prison after three people died in a retreat he led in Sedona, Arizona. An untitled biography directed by Lydia Tengalia will focus on celebrity chef Jeremiah Tower.

 

 

 

 

 

More TV

  • Walt Disney Archives Founder Dave Smith

    Walt Disney Archives Founder Dave Smith Dies at 78

    Walt Disney Archives founder Dave Smith, the historian who spent 40 years cataloging and preserving the company’s legacy of entertainment and innovation, died Friday in Burbank, Calif. He was 78. Smith served as Disney’s chief archivist from 1970 to 2010. He was named a Disney Legend in 2007 and served as a consultant to the [...]

  • TV Writer Christopher Knopf, Former WGA

    TV Writer Christopher Knopf, Former WGA West President, Dies at 91

    Prolific Emmy-nominated television writer Christopher Edwin Knopf, former president of the Writers Guild of America West, died in his sleep of congestive heart failure on Feb. 13. He was 91. Knopf was born in New York and attended UCLA, leaving during his senior year to join the Air Force during World War II. He finished [...]

  • Jussie Smollett The Black AIDS Insitute

    Jussie Smollett Case: Two Suspects Released Without Charges as New Evidence Emerges

    After two days of questioning, the Chicago Police Department announced Friday evening that it has released two suspects in the Jussie Smollett case without filing charges. Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said that detectives had developed new information in the case. Police no longer consider the men to be suspects. “Due to new evidence as a [...]

  • GOTHAM: L-R: Guest star Cameron Monaghan

    TV News Roundup: Fox Drops 'Gotham' Final Season Trailer (Watch)

    In today’s TV news roundup, Fox released a new trailer for an upcoming episode of “Gotham” and Disney has announced the cast for its upcoming “High School Musical” series.  FIRST LOOKS Showtime released a new trailer and the official poster for the upcoming fourth season of “Billions,” premiering March 17 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. In [...]

  • Chris Rock

    Chris Rock to Direct Kenan Thompson Comedy Pilot at NBC

    Chris Rock has come onboard to direct the NBC single-cam comedy pilot “Saving Kenan,” Variety has learned. Rock will also executive produce the pilot, which stars “SNL” mainstay Kenan Thompson. Thompson will play a newly widowed dad determined to be everything for his kids while begrudgingly letting his persistent father-in-law become more involved in their lives [...]

  • Peak TV Saturation TV Placeholder

    Apollo Global Management Buys Majority Stake in Cox TV Stations

    Private equity giant Apollo Global Management has cut a deal with Atlanta-based Cox Enterprises to buy a majority stake in Cox’s 13 TV stations as well as three newspapers and a handful of radio stations in Ohio. Apollo has been in the hunt for broadcast TV stations for some time. Cox’s station group, which includes [...]

  • Ken Jeong TV Take Podcast

    Listen: Ken Jeong on His Return to Stand-Up and New Netflix Special

    Welcome to “TV Take,” Variety’s television podcast. In this week’s episode, Variety’s executive editor of TV, Daniel Holloway, talks with Ken Jeong about his Netflix comedy special, “Ken Jeong: You Complete Me, Ho,” and being a judge on Fox’s “The Masked Singer.“ Jeong started working on his new standup act after ABC canceled his show “Dr. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content