CNN Studies Options for Remaking Evening Lineups: Report

Is this the new face of CNN? TV chef Anthony Bourdain (Photo: Getty Images)

Struggling CNN has been looking outside its usual comfort zone for new-show ideas and personalities.

Cable TV’s original all-news network, which still enjoys a strong reputation for straight-ahead news reporting, is nevertheless suffering in the ratings in the time period where the numbers count the most — prime time.

As a result, CNN is considering a number of unusual options for evening programming that it had never considered before, reports The New York Post here.

The network’s efforts include holding discussions with Hollywood talent agents and reality-TV producers — including companies that have produced shows for channels such as Bravo, Discovery Channel and History Channel, the Post reports.

Such discussions represent a significant change in the corporate culture at CNN, which has long prided itself on producing its own programming in-house — a tradition of controlling its own programming that is seen as preserving the news network’s independence as a reliable news source.

The Post story says a new Sunday night show in the works for CNN, starring celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, could serve as a template for a new emphasis at CNN on personality-driven TV shows that feature stars not cultivated at CNN, or even known particularly for TV news.

Citing internal CNN documents, the story says CNN is looking at various options for reality programming on Saturday and Sunday evenings. In addition, the network is mulling the development of a weeknight late-night show, possibly with a panel of talkers — like “The View” or “The Five” on Fox News Channel.

What this means for CNN’s core lineup between 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. weeknights — now made up of Erin Burnett at 8/7c, Piers Morgan at 9/8c and Anderson Cooper at 10/9c — was not specified in the story.

But our take is: If this story is to be believed (and there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be), then everything and everyone is vulnerable.

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