Despite his reputation—earned or not—for planning to jazz up CNN, the cable news network’s chief Jeff Zucker Friday at TCA scotched reports of Jay Leno coming aboard for a late-night gig “anytime soon…it’s just not where our priorities are….” The main job, as it’s been for years, is changing the public’s perception of CNN, returning its once-stellar reputation and top ratings. For Zucker, part of the formula is continuing to add series and documentaries.
In ’14 CNN will carry 8 series, up from 3 in ’13. Joining Anthony Bordain and Morgan Spurlock will be primetime series from Robert Redford and Tom Hanks “and a full slate of films.” But, “We will never ever get out of making sure we are there for news… primetime will continue to be the home of news and talk,” he promised. And “first and foremost” Zucker wants “CNN [to] remain true to its news and journalistic background.”
Another element, he said, is adding “a little bit more passion” to CNN programming. Acknowledging cable news nets on the left and right, although not naming them, Zucker said, “I think CNN needs to be looking out for the rest of us… that doesn’t mean you have to be politically partisan, but that means you can… bring passion.”