CNN Looks To Shake Up Lineup With Non-News Programming

By Alex Weprin 

The New York Post’s Michael Shain reports that CNN is looking to non-news programming, such as reality shows, to help shake up its lineup. That shouldn’t be too surprising, as the addition of Anthony Bourdain to its weekend lineup next year has long been seen as just “step one” in a process to reshape the network’s weekend lineup.

Here’s what Shain reports the network is looking for:

A late-night talk show featuring a panel — an 11 p.m. version of “The View.”

* Five new reality shows to air on Saturday and Sunday nights — to compliment traveling chef Anthony Bourdain, who is set to debut a new Sunday night CNN show starting early next year.

* A hunt for new on-air personalities outside of traditional TV news. Bourdain is the “prototype” for the new star CNN is now looking for, it is telling Hollywood agents.

A producer with his own production company confirmed to me that CNN has been knocking on doors looking for some new (or even old) concepts and talent. Here’s what he told me:

Late night: while CNN has long considered a late night news/comedy hybrid program, the panel show it is currently seeking is said to be more along the lines of “The Five,” “The Cycle” and “The View,” the panel shows currently dominating the TV news landscape. The challenge for the network is that in that hour younger viewers are probably watching “Conan” ion TBS or “The Daily Show” on Comedy Central. As a result CNN is said to be looking at a slightly older crowd in that hour, an hour in which neither Fox News nor MSNBC programs originals.

Reality: CNN is talking to producers about acquiring non-scripted programming in the same vein as shows on Discovery Channel. Those shows are entertaining first and foremost, but also may teach viewers something about a culture, place or peoples. “No Reservations” is held up as a benchmark. Likewise, Bourdain is mentioned as the prototypical talent for the reality programming: not necessarily a journalist, but someone curious about the world. Another name being bandied about is Discovery Channel “Dirty Jobs” host Mike Rowe, though it isn’t clear whether he would be in a position to leave that network.

It is important to note that the reality shows will likely be exclusive to the weekends when they launch, with weekdays reserved for more typical cable news programming. The earliest timeframe for launch would be next year, timed to the debut of Bourdain’s new CNN show.