Roots

CNN anchors Anderson Cooper and Michaela Pereira will host a two-hour primetime special Monday, October 20th at 9pm ET.

More from CNN:

ROOTS: OUR JOURNEYS HOME will kick-off on Sunday, October 12th at 9 pm ET with a special episode of Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown and will air across the network throughout the week, culminating in a two-hour special on Monday, October 20th at 9 pm ET. The following is the broadcast schedule for ROOTS:

SUNDAY 10/12
Anthony Bourdain – (9 pm ET) This investigation into the puzzling history of the Bourdain’s great, great, great, grandfather, Paraguayan émigré Jean Bourdain, serves as a springboard to his first tour of this South American country. In Paraguay, Bourdain explores both jungle and desert land, a rich culture, and savory local dishes that include Bife Koygua, Bori Bori, and Sopa Paraguaya.

MONDAY 10/13
Michaela Pereira – (6am ET on New Day) Michaela Pereira’s adoption journey began when she was very young—just three-months-old in Canada. Although she “hit the jackpot” with her adoptive family, she also knows that much of what you see in front of you—the color of her skin, the curl of her hair—comes from her biological parents. After a brief search years ago led to closed doors, Michaela embarks on her roots journey again—this time not in pursuit of her birth parents, but for the place that her ancestors came from—in St. James Parish, Jamaica.

Anderson Cooper – (8pm ET on AC360) Many people know Anderson Cooper as having come from one of America’s most famous families – the Vanderbilts. But growing up, Anderson was always drawn to the southern roots of his father, Wyatt Cooper. Anderson travels to Mississippi where his father grew up and discovers ties between the poor farming family and the rich Vanderbilts that existed before his parents ever met.

TUESDAY 10/14
Chris Cuomo – (6 am ET on New Day) The son and brother of two governors of New York, Chris Cuomo thought he knew all there was to know about his roots, but he discovers a mysterious figure, Germana Castaldo, at the heart of it. Chris travels to the bedrock of the Cuomo family in Italy to retrace her steps.

Jake Tapper – (4 pm ET on The Lead) Jake Tapper grew up in Philly, blocks from Independence Hall, steeped in Americana. He was surprised to learn his family members were Colonists. He was even more surprised to learn that, during the Revolutionary War, they were traitors who sided with British and fled to Canada. Jake travels to Canada to unravel the mystery of why his family remained loyal to the Crown, and how that changes his own story.

Erin Burnett – (7 pm ET on Erin Burnett OutFront) After 50 years of living on a farm in Maryland, Erin Burnett’s parents are packing up their memories and moving on. The move prompts Erin to learn more about her roots beyond the home she grew up in and loves so much. Her journey takes her to a remote Scottish island where she uncovers her ancestors’ struggle to survive the potato famine, and meets relatives who still call Scotland home.

Don Lemon – (10 pm ET on CNN Tonight) Because of poor record keeping, it’s nearly impossible for descendants of slaves in America to trace their ancestry past 1870. So CNN’s Don Lemon sets off to find his roots and fill the gaps in his family tree. It’s a journey that takes him from a Louisiana plantation to the hub of the transatlantic slave trade in West Africa.

WEDNESDAY 10/15
Christine Romans – (6 am ET on New Day) As a journalist, Christine Romans interviews newsmakers every day. But in her family, the real newsmaker is just an ordinary girl who had the courage to leave a small town in Denmark, and everything she knew, behind to start all over again in America. Christine goes there, to where it all started.

Wolf Blitzer – (5 pm ET on Sit Room) Wolf Blitzer pays a visit to Yad Vashem, the Israeli Holocaust museum. While there, this son of Holocaust survivors discovers his paternal grandparents actually perished in one of the most brutal extermination camps of WWII, Auschwitz. Wolf returns to his roots in Poland: to visit the camp where more than a million Jews were murdered by the Nazis. He travels to his father’s hometown in the neighboring village, where not one Jew lives today. Wolf also looks for any trace of his maternal grandparents – including his namesake Wolf Zylberfuden – a task made more difficult by a Poland completely rebuilt after the war. Wolf then heads to his own hometown of Buffalo, New York, where his parents managed to start a successful new life in America.

Sanjay Gupta – (8 pm ET on AC360) CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, takes his family half-way around the world to uncover his roots. Their trip, from his mother’s tiny village in Pakistan to his father’s hometown just outside Delhi, is full of surprises. And you won’t believe how mom and dad actually met, right here in America. (re-air Saturday 9/18 at 4:30pm ET on Sanjay Gupta MD)

THURSDAY 10/16

Kate Bolduan – (6 am ET on New Day) Kate Bolduan just gave birth to her first child, a daughter, so finding out about her family tree comes at a perfect time. Bolduan grew up in the Midwest, and was surprised to learn that she comes from a long line of glass blowers from a tiny village in Belgium. Pregnant during her journey, Bolduan set off to find out more about the family business, learning her great great grandmother traveled to America while SHE was pregnant, too. And you’ll never believe what historic event happened just weeks before she set sail.

FRIDAY 10/17

John Berman – (6 am ET on New Day) Could John Berman be royalty? Is he related to the Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza, noted as the Prince of Philosophers? John Berman travels to Amsterdam, the country where his ancestors, the Spinozas, lived for 140 years in search of his “Inner Spinoza”… and the truth.

Fareed Zakaria – (8 pm ET on AC360) Fareed Zakaria takes viewers on a historical journey as he explores his family’s roots and discovers how his personal story intersects with critical moments in history. Fareed’s father, an orphan and self-made man who eventually became a Minister in India’s government, often claimed that he had Central Asian “warrior” ancestry. Given the lack of records in India, Fareed takes a DNA test to see whether his father’s jocular claims can be validated. True to form, Fareed puts what he learns along the way into greater historical context. (re-air Sunday 9/19, 10am ET on Fareed Zakaria GPS)

MONDAY 10/20

ROOTS: OUR JOURNEYS HOME – 9 pm ET – CNN anchors Anderson Cooper and Michaela Pereira will host a two hour special featuring 12 of the network’s hosts and anchors stories. The special will also include interviews with Anderson Cooper, Michaela Pereira, Erin Burnett and Dr. Sanjay Gupta about what the experience has meant to them personally.

What’s in Zucker’s Kool-Aid?

Something’s clearly wrong with Jeff Zucker’s “tests”… Bolded for emphasis.

Zucker had built the new morning show around Chris Cuomo, a brash 42-year-old hire from ABC News and the younger brother of the governor. But finding a female co-anchor had been difficult. His first choice, CNN host Erin Burnett, balked. Zucker ultimately settled on Kate Bolduan, a 29-year-old Washington, D.C., correspondent. In meetings, Zucker gushed about Cuomo and Bolduan’s chemistry, speaking as if he had found a cable analog to Katie Couric and Matt Lauer. “I’ve never seen anyone test so well,” Zucker said.

The anchor pair of Chris and Kate are clearly lacking in chemistry now. Whatever tests he ran…were clearly wrong.

You can read more of Zucker’s profile in NYMag.

CNN orders more taped series

Alex Weprin reports some grim news on the fate of CNN’s programming.

CNN has given a series order to “The Seventies,” a follow-up to this past summer’s series “The Sixties,” someone familiar with the order told Capital. The show is slated to air in summer 2015. Inside CNN, there is an expectation that the “decade” franchise could become a programming brand all its own.

And then there’s the little nugget on Bill Weir that has been mentioned on my blog for a while… I have reached out to CNN numerous times about Weir’s series, but they are remaining very tight-lipped about it.

CNN has blocked out 9 p.m. on its schedule for original series, though so far it it does not have nearly enough programs to fill up that schedule. With the new shows launching this fall, and the slate for 2015 just about to take shape, that will soon change.

“I don’t think we have launched three at one time before,” Amy Entelis, CNN’s senior V.P. of talent and content development told Capital, referring to a new season of “Parts Unknown,” and the launches of new shows featuring Lisa Ling and Mike Rowe. “This is sort of a big season for us right now, the most new content that we have put out there since we started this strategy.”

Well… Yay?

“This is a significant move for CNN, this is changing a little bit the fabric of CNN, but I believe that cable news has to evolve, it has to change, otherwise you suffer the fate that is going on,” said CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker, at a lunch with reporters last week. “We had zero shows two years ago, now we will have 12 next year.”

That “fate” is the ratings stagnation that Zucker argues is affecting cable news. While year-over-year numbers occasionally show signs of hope, the long-term trend lines show ratings that are flat or in some cases down.

“In primetime, in the demo, over the last five years, Fox has lost 41 percent of its audience, MSNBC has lost 27 percent of its audience, HLN has lost 13 percent of its audience, and CNN has grown its audience by 2 percent,” Zucker says, adding that “Fox is still a dominant number one, of course.”

“When you look at that trend line, you go, ‘that is not a very healthy genre,’” Zucker added. “It is really one of the main reasons we moved into this kind of programming.”

So although CNN has gained 2%, it isn’t because of the actual news.

“There are a number of people internally who think we push even more into this arena,” Zucker said, adding later: “I can envision that we will move more and more into this kind of storytelling and programming in years to come.”

(H/t j$p)

Piers Morgan talks about CNN

In an interview with Politico, former CNN host Piers Morgan talks about CNN… and his former colleague, Anderson Cooper.

“I’ve never looked back, because I never feel negative,” Morgan said in his first interview since leaving the network in September. “The problem is when you go into a deep decline and start believing what other people are saying about you, like, ‘I’m a terrible dimwit British failure who’s been sent home packing in the goat class, and we’re never going to see him again.”

“If you actually believe this bulls—-,” he says, “you’re never going to get out of bed.”

But CNN’s decision to cancel his 9 p.m. interview program is a topic he returns to frequently.

The way Morgan tells it, CNN President Jeff Zucker believed it was impossible to sustain a nightly interview show because there simply weren’t enough guests. Instead, Morgan says, Zucker offered him an opportunity to do a show that would air 20 times a year, but Morgan declined because Zucker wouldn’t let him co-produce it and hire his own staff. (High-level sources at CNN tell a different story: Morgan was pretty much done in March, when the show was terminated due to poor ratings, but he stayed through September because he was on contract.)

During the interview at his home here, Morgan says the offer was “completely, 100 percent on the table. Unequivocally. You can have that on the record.” Later, he adds that after his show was cancelled he had “five months of full pay without having to work, which is a nice position to find yourself in and a great way to clear your head.”

Whatever the case, Morgan has no hard feelings toward Zucker. He sympathizes with his former boss’s Sisyphean effort to boost ratings at a network that, since its inception, has been subject to the whims of the news cycle, and he understands that ending his show was a necessary step in that effort.

Still, Morgan faults Zucker and CNN for being overly preoccupied with ratings.
“I’ve always felt that CNN should be more resilient to media criticism about monthly or quarterly ratings,” Morgan says. “Ted Turner once described CNN to me as The New York Times of television. We don’t care about chasing ratings or chasing readers. We care about having a brand that is so trusted that whenever anything important happens in the world, people turn us on.”

“If I was running CNN, if I was Jeff Zucker, I would come out and do an interview with someone like you, and I would say, ‘I’m not going to discuss ratings again,’” Morgan continues. “Our business proposition is not predicated on ratings, our global brand is not dependent on how we rate at 9 p.m. in America.”

Zucker won’t actually say that, of course, because “everyone would probably perceive it as him looking weak.”

Despite all his talk, Morgan has his own preoccupations with ratings. Though he now claims he “never worried too much” about the fluctuations, he was always happy to tout high ratings whenever the news cycle or the guest booking worked in his favor.

Morgan blames Anderson Cooper, his former colleague, for being a bad lead-in.

“Could I have done with a better lead-in? Yes,” Morgan says. “Anderson is a great field reporter, but does he drive big ratings at CNN, outside of a big news cycle? I don’t see any evidence of it. And yet the whole bank was being bet on him at 8 and 10 o’clock.

“I never bought into that as my best way of getting ratings” he continues. “You look over at Megyn Kelly on Fox News and she’s inheriting 450,000 or 500,000 from Bill O’Reilly in the [25-to-54-year-old] demo, and some days I’d be getting 60,000. That’s not to denigrate Anderson so much, because I think he’s pretty good at what he does. But was he the golden boy everybody thought he was? I didn’t see much evidence of that in ratings.”
(Morgan says he and Cooper “were never the easiest of bedfellows.” Cooper was “just a totally different character than me,” he says, “and we never really clicked.”)


There’s another page, but it doesn’t contain anything interesting about his time at CNN.

Cutting through the fluff

So the CNN third quarter ratings were in. CNN managed to spin it fairly well (second place for the demo and overall).

But there’s this (bolded for emphasis):

Several daytime programs were down double digits in the A25-54 demo: “Legal View with Ashleigh Banfield” (down -20%), “Wolf” (down -17%), and “CNN Newsroom” (2pmET and 3pmET; down -16%, -13%, respectively).

The demo is the all-important thing that they use to get advertisers. So, from noon-4pm, things suck.

I am no fan of Legal View and would be happy to see the slot gutted. (A place for Alisyn Camerota, perhaps). Furthermore, I am no fan of Wolf — but both he and his program are safe, since it just began simulcasting on CNNI this week. CNN Newsroom with Brooke Baldwin is a program I love, so no complaints from me.

But the overall point is… Yeah, CNN got second overall for the third quarter. But their early afternoon block needs a major restructuring, obviously.

CNN Newsroom Live from Hong Kong ends

Quietly, CNN Newsroom Live from Hong Kong appears to have ended. The past month, Andrew Stevens has been using a flash set in Hong Kong instead of the normal HK studio. Former co-anchor Patricia Wu left the network due to a feud with Andrew.

The past two days, Andrew Stevens has been reporting for the program, but not anchoring it. On Monday morning Hong Kong time, Jonathan Mann anchored; Tuesday, Jim Clancy anchored.

In its place, CNN Today with Michael Holmes and Amara Walker will air, beginning October 19th, from CNN Center.

I reached out to a spokesperson for the Hong Kong bureau, but haven’t heard back.

Rosemary Church promises stability

In a tweet sent out a short while ago, CNN International anchor Rosemary Church attempted to reassure the viewers:

The slot has seen many anchors in the past few months. During the week, it is normally a slot occupied by the wonderful duo of Rosemary and John Vause. However, there have been many pairings as of late. (To name a few: Rosemary Church and Errol Barnett, Rosemary Church and John Vause; Errol and Isa Soares, Errol Barnett and Kiran Chetry, Errol Barnett and Amara Walker, Errol Barnett and Natalie Allen; John Vause and Zain Asher).

As mentioned in the memo I first obtained, there have been no announcements yet for that block. However, it says more details will be shared in the days ahead.

Stay tuned!