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Posts Tagged ‘Mark Whitaker’

CNN is a Buyer at Sundance

CNN Films, a production and acquisition unit of CNN Worldwide, has acquired another film at the Sundance Film Festival. Partnering with Magnolia Pictures, CNN has acquired the U.S. rights to the documentary “Blackfish,” about the history of killer whales in captivity leading up to the 2010 incident at Sea World that resulted in the death of a trainer by the whale Tilikum. The film will be released in theaters this Summer and shown on CNN in the Fall.

Established last year, as first reported by TVNewser, CNN Films is the result of a reorganization of two documentary units, combined into one department focusing on acquiring documentaries from outside production companies.

CNN Films isn’t just dipping its toe in the documentary water. It dove in at Sundance, hosting a party Friday in Park City to announce other acquisitions and three new projects from filmmakers.

CNN has acquired the U.S. broadcast rights to a documentary about the life of Roger Ebert, based on his memoir, Life Itself. “Girl Rising,” a documentary about nine girls from around the world struggling to get an education, will make its theatrical debut in March followed by a broadcast premiere on CNN in June. “Girl Rising” is produced by former ABC News executive producer Tom Yellin. A sneak preview was given last night at Sundance.

“CNN is proud to announce these production agreements at this festival which has done so much to support independent storytelling,” says Mark Whitaker, managing editor of CNN. “Our aim at CNN Films is to showcase the work of exceptional documentary filmmakers and to build conversations around the issues they raise across our global platforms.”

The Ticker: ‘Rise Above,’ Whitaker, Bennett

  • With the election over, CNBC is launching a cross-platform campaign called “Rise Above” to draw attention to the fiscal cliff, the deficit and other economic issues. The term Rise Above refers to the need to rise above partisan bickering. More information on the initiative from CNBC’s Nik Deogun, here.
  • CNN Worldwide managing editor Mark Whitaker posts a public “letter from the editor” praising CNN’s election coverage. “We did it because we value facts more than opinions, but also because these days that’s what sets CNN apart.” His whole op-ed is here.
  • Investigation Discovery has promoted Kevin Bennett to general manager. He will continue to report to Henry Schleiff, the president of ID, Destination America an Military Channel. Bennett, a 16-year veteran of Discovery Communications, will remain senior VP of programming and research for the group.

Bill O’Reilly Loves ‘Lincoln’: ‘You Know You’re Gonna Win Best Picture’

Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly gives an enthusiastic two thumbs up for “Lincoln,” the new Steven Spielberg film which documents the final few months of the Civil War as Abraham Lincoln tries to get the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery through the House of Representatives.

TVNewser attended the screening and a Q&A with Spielberg, Daniel Day-Lewis, who plays Lincoln, and screenwriter Tony Kushner moderated by TIME’s Rick Stengel. Stengel called first on O’Reilly who asked Day-Lewis how long it took to prepare for the role. “It took a year,” Day-Lewis says. “It seemed preposterous at first … growing up in Southeast London” to play the 16th president of the United States.

O’Reilly then gave his seal of approval: “You know you’re going to win Best Picture.” Then, to Day-Lewis, “and you’re going to win Best Actor.” And to Spielberg: “And you’re going to win Best Director and [Tommy Lee] Jones is going to win Best Supporting Actor.” Jones plays “Radical Republican” Pennsylvania Congressman Thaddeus Stevens.

Before the screening we had a chance to talk with O’Reilly, author of “Killing Lincoln” on its 55th week on the New York Times Best-Sellers list, this week at No. 5. His “Killing Kennedy” is No. 1 on the list for the second straight week.

We asked the Fox News star if he was excited by the news that FNC chairman and CEO Roger Ailes had signed on for another four years. “Excited? We’d be shocked if he hadn’t,” said O’Reilly.

Other notable tvnewsers at the event, “60 Minutes” correspondent Lesley Stahl, who had a revealing feature on Spielberg last Sunday, “CBS This Morning’s” Gayle King, Charlie Rose, and EP Chris Licht. MSNBC’s Chris Jansing and Lawrence O’Donnell, who ducked out during the Q&A to make it back to 30 Rock for his 10pm show. CNN execs Mark Whitaker, Ken Jautz and Bart Feder and ABC’s “This Week” EP Sandy Cannold.

And, after an early morning co-hosting “GMA,” Oprah Winfrey also attended. She gave a bear hug to Kushner. Then, exiting the theater — appropriately at the Loews Lincoln Square on the Upper

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CNN Spreading Out Correspondents Across Swing States

CNN has announced a slew of assignments for network correspondents in advance of the Presidential election. The network will have anchors and reporters in every swing state, as well as some floaters that will travel to multiple states, and the correspondents embedded with the campaigns. The network is launching segments branded as “The Final Battlegrounds” starting on Monday.

“CNN is deploying its vast resources and top-notch reporters into the states that the campaigns are targeting as the election nears,” said Mark Whitaker, executive VP and managing editor of CNN Worldwide in a statement. “Our in-depth reporting and analysis will keep voters informed of the up-to-the-minute developments that will determine the outcome of this extraordinarily close presidential race.”

The correspondent assignments, after the jump.
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CNN’s Mark Whitaker Defends Candy Crowley’s Debate Performance In Email To Staff

TMZ reports that CNN Worldwide managing editor Mark Whitaker sent an email to CNN staffers discussing Candy Crowley‘s performance as debate moderator. He praises her performance, and takes aim at her critics, writing:

“The reviews on Candy’s performance have been overwhelmingly positive but Romney supporters are going after her on two points, no doubt because their man did not have as good a night as he had in Denver.”

He went on to discuss Crowley’s real-time fact-check of Mitt Romney, and the fact that President Obama got more time to speak than his GOP challenger.

The full memo is below.

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Michael Wolff Tackles CNN’s CEO Search

Gary Ginsberg

Michael Wolff takes to USA Today to write about CNN’s search for a new CEO. He trots out a number of familiar names, but buries who he thinks the next CEO will be at the very end of his item.

Sure, people make fun of CNN, but it makes money, doesn’t it? So all we really have is a PR problem.

In that case, there is Gary Ginsberg, Time Warner’s vaunted PR chief, formerly Rupert Murdoch‘s consigliere, who has long wanted to leave the corporate office and run an operating company. Ginsberg isn’t a television guy. He’s a brilliant and powerful corporate smoother and handler.

That’s how you manage the unmanageable.

Life is just too short to remake cable news.

Wolff also talks about the often rumored names of Jeff Zucker, Mark Whitaker and Phil Griffin. While Ginsburg may seem an odd choice, NBCUniversal recently placed an executive’s executive in charge of NBC News, CNBC and MSNBC, so there is some precedent for it.

It’s Official: CNN Creates ‘CNN Films’ Banner

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.

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CNN’s Whitaker On Decision to Use Ambassador’s Journal: ‘There was a legitimate national interest in pursuing the questions of a possible terrorist threat’

CNN Worldwide managing editor Mark Whitaker appeared on CNN/U.S. to talk about the journal of Ambassador Christopher Stevens found in the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. Whitaker explained how CNN found the journal (correspondent Arwa Damon found it in the consulate), and the process it went through to inform the family of its existence (the family requested it back, and that no personal details revealed), and how CNN decided to use information found in it. Soledad O’Brien conducted the interview:

WATCH:

Party for Jeffrey Toobin’s Latest Book, ‘The Oath’

Politics and law were the hot topics at Time Warner Center last night as colleagues, friends and family came out to fete Jeffrey Toobin and his new book, “The Oath,” about the often confrontational relationship between the Obama White House and the Supreme Court.

The book party included a discussion with CNN’s Senior Political Analyst David Gergen. Among the attendees: Mediaite’s Dan Abrams and his father, attorney Floyd Abrams; CNN anchor Ashleigh Banfield, execs Ken Jautz and Mark Whitaker; News Corp’s Joel Klein, Bloomberg’s Norm Pearlstine, The New Yorker‘s David Reminck as well as Toobin’s mother, Marlene Sanders, a former CBS News correspondent and Toobin’s wife Amy McIntosh.

CNN Adding Morgan Spurlock Non-Fiction Series To Weekend Lineup

CNN is adding director Morgan Spurlock to the family. The “Super Size Me” star and director will host and produce a new unscripted series called “Inside Man” for CNN starting in early 2013. “Inside Man” will air alongside the new travel program hosted by Anthony Bourdain, which will also debut around that time.

As with Bourdain’s show, “Inside Man” will not be produced by CNN, but will be licensed to the network by Spurlock’s production company Warrior Poets. The logline for the new show:

“Each week Spurlock will provide an insider’s view into rarely-seen sectors of American life that include gun lovers, marijuana growers, migrant farm workers, and end-of-life caregivers.”

It will be a return to TV for Spurlock, who previously hosted and produced “30 Days” for FX.

“Morgan Spurlock’s name has become synonymous with creative and thought-provoking documentary story-telling,” said CNN executive VP Mark Whitaker in a statement. “Like Anthony Bourdain’s new CNN series, Inside Man will carry the distinctive stamp of its host while taking viewers on colorful and informative journeys into fascinating corners of American society.”

More information below. And check out Spurluck’s video and filmmaking tips for journalists, which he shared with MediabistroTV in a Media Beat interview, also after the jump.

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