As TVNewser first told you back in April, CNN is launching its own feature film banner, CNN Films. The company officially announced the banner today, along with its first film, and development deals with two directors.
The first non-fiction film CNN has acquired is Girl Rising, which tells the story of several girls across the globe. It will debut on CNN in early 2013. CNN has also signed development deals with directors Alex Gibney (Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room, Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer) and Andrew Rossi (Page One: Inside the New York Times). Senior VP of talent Amy Entelis and senior VP of development Vinnie Malhotra will oversee acquisitions.
The new banner was created after CNN reorganized its long-form documentary units in March. The new model focuses on acquiring documentaries produced from outside the company, with a few tentpole features developed in-house by well-known directors.
Two CNN staffers familiar with the reorganization tell TVNewser than one of the driving forces behind the reorg was Tom Yellin, the president of The Documentary Group, which produces non-fiction programming for theatrical release and television, and would benefit from another TV network to sell content to. Yellin is an executive producer on Girls Rising.
Update: CNN says that the network held meetings with Yellin specifically to acquire his documentary, and was not related to the decision to move toward acquired programming. The decision to launch CNN Films was obviously made well-before I reported the news back in April.
“CNN Films will bring distinguished, thought-provoking documentary programming to our global audiences on all our television, online and mobile platforms,” said CNN Worldwide managing editor Mark Whitaker. “We want these documentaries to tell compelling stories and stimulate important discussions across CNN’s other programs and websites.”
More information below.