Jeff Corwin Explores Cable News Jungle

By kevin 

Animal Planet veteran Jeff Corwin admits that when he started work on his new documentary with MSNBC, he got some puzzled looks from MSNBC staffers as he first walked through the hallways.

“100 Heartbeats” is the first in MSNBC’s “Future Earth” series and it examines endangered species and explains how humans impact their survival.

“MSNBC’s never done anything really quite like this,” MSNBC President Phil Griffin told the audience prior to a screening of the documentary earlier this week. “But it’s a big thing. It’s about something that’s going on now, and that’s where we want to be.”

Corwin pitched the doc directly to the network. To understand how the host from Animal Planet ended up pitching the documentary to MSNBC, you have to go back to his last cable news project.

“What made me say MSNBC? Cuz…it wasn’t CNN…?” Corwin joked.

“I came up with an idea called ‘Planet in Peril’ and pitched it to CNN,” Corwin told TVNewser, “And I very quickly realized they had their own machine for doing things.”

Corwin said “Planet in Peril,” the 2007 series on CNN hosted by Anderson Cooper, “kind of got buffered, softened” from the story he wanted to tell. “That’s a place that I left with very mixed feelings,” he said. “I wanted to be able to have some control over the project and be a true partner in the project. I’m very proud of what ‘Planet in Peril’ was for CNN, but I never felt like a true partner in it.”

At MSNBC, he said things were different, “We don’t have the bells and whistles like CNN — you know, they do the screening at the Natural History Museum — but I went into MSNBC and they said, ‘Do what you want. It’s your project.'”

“I felt like they were giving me the chance to not just be the animal guy,” he added.

While Corwin says he’s very proud of the new doc and thinks it will lead to more opportunities with MSNBC in the future, he’s remaining realistic about inserting something completely foreign into the MSNBC documentary lineup.

“It could tank, who knows,” he said. “Maybe people will say, ‘This isn’t Lockup.’ ‘That’s not the predator I thought we were going to be catching.’ Who knows? But maybe its the start of something new. ”

“100 Heartbeats” premieres Sunday at 8pmET.