CNN announced today that it is creating a reality television series centered around murder suspect George Zimmerman.
In a press release, network president Jeff Zucker said the new show will air on the fall schedule and aims to “bridge the gap” between news and entertainment.
“CNN has been thrilled with the success of our wall-to-wall George Zimmerman trial coverage,” the statement reads, “but why should the camera go dark after the courtroom drama ends?
“With the threat of an extended prison sentence hanging over him, Zimmerman’s story is only just beginning. What will the next chapter bring? The sweet taste of liberty? Or the harsh flavor of lady justice?
“Whether he’s navigating the inside of a jailhouse, or back on the neighborhood watch beat – only CNN will give you the exclusive inside scoop every Friday at 8pm / 7 central.”
The Less You Know
CNN pioneered the 24-hour news concept, dominating the airwaves in the 1980s and ’90s. In recent years, however, it has been battered by competition from Fox News, MSNBC and the multitude of news sources available on the Internet.
In an effort to stem its decline, the aging channel hired Zucker, a former NBCUniversal executive, to broaden the scope of its programming beyond the traditional news formats.
Programming like the travelogue Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown has so far been successful in boosting CNN’s bottom line. But analysts say the new Zimmerman series could be an even bigger boon.
“This is very, very exciting,” says Justin Trudeau, a media analyst at RBC Capital Markets. “The problem with CNN is that its still about 70-80 percent news. If we can bring that figure down to the mid-forties and replace everything else with ‘newsality’ shows – it could finally start catching up to its rivals.”
In an exclusive interview, Zucker says the show will be called Keeping Up With The Zimmermans and will feature George Zimmerman’s brother prominently.
“We’ve seen what the Kardashians have done for the E! channel, and we want to be part of that success,” he explains. “We’re also thinking of doing a Real Housewives of Cairo, but that is still in the planning stages.“
UPDATE: In a statement CNN has confirmed the series is now filming and is focused on his new neighborhood watch group.