Planet Still in Peril on CNN

By SteveK 

Within the next few days, CNN is expecting a big response from several corporations and individuals who may not be very happy with the way they are portrayed in the upcoming two-hour documentary, “Planet in Peril: Battle Lines.”

“I expect them to, in a perfect world, to say ‘we weren’t really aware of what’s going on, but we’re going to do something about it,'” EP David Doss tells TVNewser following the premiere of “Planet in Peril” last night at the Time Warner Center. “Or I think we’ll probably hear from the attorneys from other companies. That’s the range.”

The “Planet in Peril” series enters its second year tomorrow at 9pmET, and puts its three correspondents, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Anderson Cooper and Lisa Ling (and producer Charlie Moore, pictured) in a series of dangerous situations, in order to report on environmental crises around the world.

There’s Cooper swimming with great white sharks, without a cage. Gupta in a Peruvian town where 98% of the children are poisoned by the pollutants in the air. Ling to an African separatist organization firing guns haphazardly while she reports just yards a way. In total, the reporting takes the viewer to 11 countries and four continents.

“I didn’t get the sense that there were any limits about what we can do,” Gupta tells us. “It’s a big undertaking.”

Tina Brown, Mo Rocca, Ali Velshi and others made up the audience. But when we heard someone ask what the average person can do to help out during the Q&A session, and turned around to see Survivor: Africa winner Ethan Zohn, we had to ask what brought him to the event.

“I’m engaged in the subject, I enjoy the subject,” Zohn told us. “A lot of what I do is giving back and I see these three people as kind of being at the epicenter of these issues and I respect them for doing what they’re doing.”

Zohn, now the co-founder of GrassrootSoccer, was recently featured on CNN for his project of dribbling a soccer ball from Boston to DC to raise environmental awareness.

We talked to Ling, who CNN/U.S. president Jon Klein said earlier in the evening he “wanted to work with for at least a dozen years,” about the completion of a project for yet another network.

“I’ve just been very, very lucky to do work that I’m passionate about for multiple different outlets,” she said. Ling next will be covering the inauguration for The Oprah Winfrey Show.

Both Gupta and Doss told us the plan is for another year of “Peril” in 2009.

“We’re going to do Spa Resorts in Peril I understand,” joked Gupta. “I think there’s a lot of interest in this, Jon Klein told us that we would do it again. So hopefully. There’s a lot of stories to be told out there.”

Says Doss: “That anyone is still doing this in this economic environment, and we’re committed to doing this again next year, is just extraordinary.”