Should CNN Buy the Roger Ailes Miniseries?

By A.J. Katz 

The long rise and stunning falls of cable news icon, former Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes is apparently heading to the small screen in the form of a limited series. New York Magazine writer (and authority on all things Ailes) Gabriel Sherman made the announcement at the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit earlier today. Sherman, who recently signed a TV deal to produce the limited series, said no actors were committed to the project, but he had suggestions: “Anthony Hopkins in the Hitchcock film was a spitting image.” TVNewser agrees, and also likes John Goodman, Paul Giamatti, Tom Wilkinson, and Dennis Franz of NYPD Blue fame could play the embattled Ailes.

More importantly, who should consider greenlighting this project? Obvious choices include HBO (it had The Newsroom, after all), Showtime and Netflix. But there happens to be another cable network that’s looking to expand its original series footprint in 2017. That network is CNN.

Before you dismiss the prospect of CNN picking up a scripted miniseries about the creator of Fox News, take a few things into consideration. An election-less 2017 will undoubtedly translate into a slower year for the network, at least from a ratings standpoint.

There can only be so much drama and conflict in a Hillary Clinton administration (a Donald Trump administration, however, would include plenty of both) and cable news does need 24 hours worth of content. Why not make 2017 a year to experiment? The network is known for its docuseries, including Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown, This is Life with Lisa Ling, The Hunt with John Walsh, The Wonder List with Bill Weir, Race For The White House, as well as CNN Films including The Sixties, The Seventies, etc. That said, shelling out a few bucks to make a one-off move into the scripted realm might be worth it, especially if it’s thought of as a jab at its rival network. (Nat Geo, which shares the same owner as Fox News, will almost certainly stay out of the bidding.)

Ailes’ ouster from Fox News has become something of a cultural phenomenon in 2016, which could justify a fit for the network. Additionally, CNN wants to lay claim to the advertiser-friendly 25-54 demo, and taking a brief dip into scripted could be a way to get some attention from younger viewers.

If the network picks up the series for Fall 2017, perhaps a new CNN anchor named Megyn Kelly can star as herself.