CNN and HLN Confirm 2020-2021 Original Programming Slates

By A.J. Katz 

CNN and HLN have confirmed their new and returning series lineup for the remainder of 2020 and 2021.

CNN will launch two new series later this year: one about the history of late-night TV, The Story of Late Night (eight parts), and other about America’s most influential first ladies, appropriately titled First Ladies (eight parts).

The network also confirmed the launch of new Original Series for 2021, including Searching for Italy with Stanley Tucci (four parts); Lincoln: An American President (six parts); Diana, about the late Princess of Wales (six parts); History of Sitcom; Jerusalem, a six-part history of the city; Reframed: The Many Lives of Marilyn Monroe (four parts); and The Woman Who Took Down the KKK, a four-part series about a Black woman in the South who brought down the KKK.


CNN Original Series chief Amy Entelis announced the launch of these new series for 2021 during the CNN Experience pre-upfront event in early March, with The Woman Who Took Down the KKK being the exception.

In addition, two of CNN’s most popular original series, United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell, will return for its fifth season this summer, and the seventh season of This Is Life with Lisa Ling will return this fall. There will also be new seasons of both series airing in 2021.

HLN will bring back cult favorite true crime and docuseries later this year, and launch new series. Very Scary People with host Donnie Wahlberg; How It Really Happened with Hill Harper; Lies, Crime & Video; and Real Life Nightmare return later this year. Returning in 2021 will be the uber-popular Forensic Files II and Vengeance: Killer Families.

A new HLN series for 2021 is Murder Nation (working title), which will feature mysteries and murder cases that are “intrinsically tethered to their setting,” according to HLN.

More info on CNN and HLN Original Series for summer/fall 2020 and 2021:


  • The Story of Late Night (summer)- The Story of Late Night, produced by Cream Productions, is an eight-part series premiering this summer, that takes viewers on a journey back in time through present day of late-night television’s most memorable moments. Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, Chelsea Handler, Trevor Noah, Conan O’Brien, Seth Meyers, Lorne Michaels, Whoopi Goldberg, George Lopez, along with many other industry insiders, give first-hand, behind-the-scenes accounts of a beloved art form that changed the face of television forever.
  • United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell (summer)- United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell, produced by Zero Point Zero (Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown), is an eight-part, multiple Emmy Award-winning series that follows sociopolitical comedian W. Kamau Bell as he explores communities across the country to understand the unique challenges they face. The fifth season premieres this summer and explores topical issues including reparations, white supremacy, the gig economy and the homeless crisis.
  • First Ladies (fall)- First Ladies is a six-part docuseries, produced by October Films, that explores the lives of America’s most iconic First Ladies, including Eleanor Roosevelt, Jackie Kennedy, Lady Bird Johnson, Nancy Reagan, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Michelle Obama. The series explores how each First Lady was transformed by their years in the White House, and how they left their mark on American political life and society. Series premieres this fall.
  • This Is Life with Lisa Ling (fall)- This Is Life with Lisa Ling, produced by Part2, is an eight-part investigative docuseries hosted by award-winning journalist and author Lisa Ling. In these deeply divided times, Ling travels across America immersing herself in communities that are often unknown or misunderstood, with the hope we may understand one another better. The seventh season premieres this fall and explores topics including mass shooting, psychedelic therapy and babies born addicted to opioids.


  • Searching for Italy with Stanley Tucci– Searching for Italy with Stanley Tucci, produced by Raw TV, is a four-part series that takes Academy Award nominee, Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winning actor Stanley Tucci on a deeply personal journey throughout Italy to sample the culture and cuisine of his ancestors. Tucci travels to incredible food markets and backstreet trattorias to discover the secrets and gastronomic delights of the country that he loves.
  • Lincoln: An American President (wt)– Lincoln: An American President (wt), produced by Glass Entertainment, is a six-part series that explores the remarkable and unexpected story of Abraham Lincoln, delving into his complicated inner world, tragic personal life and history making political career.
  • Diana (wt)– Diana (wt), produced by October Films, is a six-part series that reveals how Diana, in just 36 years of life, influenced the entire world. The series delves into the story of how this fashion icon, humanitarian, hopeless romantic, aristocratic rebel and dedicated mother, rejected the status quo and heralded a paradigm shift for women and womanhood.
  • History of Sitcom– History of Sitcom, produced by Cream Productions, is an eight-part series that explores the most memorable moments and characters in television history, and the way sitcoms inform and reflect our social, cultural and political landscape.
  • Jerusalem (wt)– Jerusalem (wt), produced by Blackfin, is a six-part series that tells the story of the most controversial city in history through six epic conflicts and rivalries that defined it. Spanning from Biblical times to the Roman Empire to the birth of the modern state, this series will bring the “City of God” to life as never done before.
  • Reframed: The Many Lives of Marilyn Monroe (wt)– Reframed: The Many Lives of Marilyn Monroe (wt), produced by Raw TV, is a four-part series that explores from a modern perspective the life and legacy of Marilyn Monroe and to uncover the real story of this infamous woman.
  • The Woman Who Took Down The KKK (wt)– The Woman Who Took Down The KKK (wt)produced by Blumhouse, is a four-part series that tells the unflinching, untold true story of a Black woman in the South who brought down the Ku Klux Klan.
  • United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell Season 6 and This is Life with Lisa Ling Season 8

HLN, CNN’s sister network dedicated to true crime, mysteries and investigations, will add to its popular programming lineup new seasons of Very Scary People, How it Really Happened with Hill Harper, Lies, Crimes & Video, Real Life Nightmare, Forensic Files II, Vengeance and Murder Nation (wt).

The 2020/2021 HLN Original Series include:


  • Very Scary People– Actor, singer, producer Donnie Wahlberg hosts this six-part HLN Original Series that chronicles the twisted lives of some of the most frightening, intriguing and diabolical characters in recent history. Each episode traces the killers’ path to evil, exposes their ability to hide in plain sight, and celebrates their ultimate capture by skilled and determined investigators. Season 2 episodes feature Son of Sam, Robert Durst and the BTK Killer.
  • How It Really Happened with Hill Harper– Hosted by critically acclaimed actor Hill Harper, the six-part HLN Original Series delves deeply into some of the most notorious crimes, mysteries and celebrity tragedies of our time. Stories for the fifth season include the Atlanta Child Murders, the shocking Siegfried & Roy tiger attack and the final days of rock star Tom Petty.
  • Lies, Crimes & Video– This crime and investigation series, produced by HLN Investigations, gives viewers an intimate look into terrifying 911 calls, police interrogations, jail house recordings, body camera and surveillance video captured as part of a criminal investigation. The six-part series (Season 2) features riveting stories that incorporate video evidence in criminal cases and shocking courtroom testimony. The lies, deceit and bad behavior are all caught on camera and presented in this candid true crime docuseries.
  • Real Life Nightmare– This true crime docuseries, produced by HLN Investigations, offers heart-wrenching, personal mysteries and unexplained deaths that continue to baffle investigators and horrify those left behind. This six-part series (Season 2) unravels the newest evidence and compels viewers to hunt for answers with a call to action as police continue to seek the public’s help.


  • Forensic Files II– Long considered the gold standard of crime docuseries, Forensic Files returns with 16 new mysteries, produced by CNN Development for HLN under the guidance of executive producer Nancy Duffy. Forensic Files II features the amazing work of scientists and investigators who use cutting-edge forensics to crack the most baffling criminal cases. Acclaimed film, stage and television actor Bill Camp (Dark Waters, JokerThe Night Of) is the narrator.
  • Vengeance: Killer Families– The fourth installment of the HLN Original Series, Vengeance, returns with a 10-episode run of Vengeance: Killer Families. Home is supposed to be where the heart is, but sometimes family dynamics can turn deadly. And those who should be trusted the most turn out to be cold-blooded killers. Each one-hour episode takes viewers through the twists and turns of the investigation, the arrest and the quest for justice. Vengeance: Killer Families is produced for HLN by Jupiter Entertainment.
  • Murder Nation (wt) – Each four-episode season of Murder Nation (wt) will showcase mysterious and iconic murder cases from specific cities and locations around America, killings intrinsically tethered to their setting. From Beverly Kills, Hollywood’s most shocking murders, to Bad, Bad Bayou, rural Louisiana’s swampiest cases, or Evil in Alaska, where man’s animal nature comes to the surface, each of these unique murders couldn’t have happened anywhere else. The series is produced for HLN by Glass Entertainment.