Jeff Zucker: ‘We Need More Shows and Less Newscasts’

By Merrill Knox 

After 11 months at the helm of CNN, Jeff Zucker tells Capital New York’s Alex Weprin and Mike Allen about the huge changes still to come as he shapes the network’s news coverage into something “that is just not being so obvious”:

Instead, he wants more of “an attitude and a take”: “We’re all regurgitating the same information. I want people to say, ‘You know what? That was interesting. I hadn’t thought of that,'” Zucker said. “The goal for the next six months, is that we need more shows and less newscasts.”

[…] More series and films untethered to the news and produced by outside production companies will get runs in primetime: “Yes, there will be more and, yes, they will not just be on Sundays…,” he said. “I think it will expand past just the weekends, and so there’s a little piece of news for you… This is a primetime play. It’s too expensive to confine it to weekends.”

Among the prime-time possibilities he is considering at CNN: half-hour shows, perhaps including one for Bill Weir, recently hired from ABC. “Honestly, there is not a piece of paper that has the lineup on it right now,” he said.

Zucker also reveals that he was diagnosed with Bell’s Palsy earlier this year:

“You wake up and you look in the mirror and your face can’t move and you think you had a stroke, and then you go to the emergency room and they diagnose it,” Zucker told Capital during a wide-ranging interview. Zucker was diagnosed with Bell’s Palsy in June, a form of facial paralysis that renders affected people unable to control facial muscles on one side of their face.

“It’s definitely better than it was, but I can’t smile, I can’t laugh, and I can’t raise my forehead,” Zucker said, noting that 98% of the time the symptoms disappear within three months. “I’m at 6 months,” he added. “So, obviously, I’m an outlier in having it.”