CNN Upfront: April 10, 2014

At Skylight Modern in NYC, CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker took to the stage to announce new CNN documentaries and original series meant to keep viewers tuned in to the news net even when there are no big stories breaking. Starting this summer, the 9p hour once reserved for talk will be given over to specials like Dr. Sanjay Gutpa’s Weed and Anderson Cooper’s The Survivor Diaries, and series boasting familiar faces. Mike Rowe (Dirty Jobs) hosts Somebody’s Gotta Do It, Lisa Ling (Our America with Lisa Ling) takes viewers to far corners of America and John Walsh (America’s Most Wanted) headlines criminal investigation show The Hunt with John Walsh. “There are just too many outlets with not enough big gets for a pure talk show to thrive any longer, ” said Zucker. “And just because CNN has always done a talk show at 9, it doesn’t mean that’s what we should be doing there going forward.” 10p will house a live hour of the day’s biggest stories with rotating hosts, called CNN Tonight.

Zucker’s biggest news was the unveiling of CNNx, giving viewers control over the news stories they watch. “The Internet has come crashing into your television,” said SVP and GM CNN digital KC Estenson. “This product bolsters our relationships with TV partners, opens incredible new opportunities for advertisers and delivers consumers a truly innovative experience.”

Also on the way: The Jesus Code, a forensic look at the Bible, and ten-parter The Sixties.

Albie Hecht, EVP and GM of HLN, said “the first home TV home for the social media generation” has a slate covering many genres, including 2 Spouses, 3 Houses, America’s Most Liked and What’s Trending. “HLN has collaborated with some truly creative minds both internally and externally to build a programming slate designed to heighten the all screen experience – TV, digital and social,” said Hecht, who also announced a partnership with Twitter.

WE tv boasted a solid start to 2014, and a significant expansion of its social media following. The net also announced three new unscripted series, Match Made in Heaven, Mystery Millionaire and David Tutera’s CELEBrations, along with its first scripted series, The Divide, and relationship competition pilot, Charlie Sheen’s Bad Influence.

“Successful television networks are built on good shows, and we are excited about these new and returning originals as we continue to build on WE tv’s strong momentum, engage both new and existing viewers and expand our audience base,” said Marc Juris, WE tv president. “We are focused on delivering unique concepts and characters that break through the clutter, are buzz worthy and deepen engagement with the network, both on air and online.”

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