UPDATED, with comments from Chris Wallace and Kasie Hunt: CNN+ is on the wane, but the new leadership at Warner Bros Discovery has provided all the clues that there might still be a future for some of its programming.
Much of the speculation has centered on the future of the streaming service’s most prominent hire, Chris Wallace, who stunned his Fox News colleagues in December to announce he was leaving. His CNN+ show, Who’s talking to Chris Wallace?has made headlines on a number of occasions with his incisive sit-downs with the likes of Bob Iger and Jen Psaki, and it’s not such a big leap to imagine him moving to CNN.
There has been some expectation that, with his show’s extensive and penetrating interviews, Wallace would most likely get such a berth. CNN had a big gap to fill at 9 p.m. weekdays after Chris Cuomo’s resignation, but there could also be a bigger overhaul of its early evening and primetime schedule under incoming CEO Chris Licht.
Wallace declined to comment on what happens next, but told Deadline, “My biggest concern right now is taking care of my team.”
Meanwhile, Wallace’s executive producer, Javier de Diego, beamed at the sense of joy some had over the demise of CNN+, led by former President Donald Trump, who made a mocking statement.
Chris Wallace Heading to CNN+: “No Longer Felt Comfortable With Fox Programming”
“Added to an already horrendous day: People here celebrating the demise of a project, hundreds have worked hard to achieve, praising their potential unemployment,” de Diego wrote. “Seemingly for political reasons. Can people be human for once? Have some empathy.”
Hundreds could even lose their jobs doing away with CNN+, especially as Warner Bros Discovery moves to post-merger cost-cutting. The abrupt way the shutdown was handled, with some learning via news alerts, has also demoralized some talents.
Another high-profile hire was Kasie Hunt, who anchors an afternoon show. She did not respond to a request for comment, but said on her show Friday that she would remain with CNN “to cover our leaders, elections, the future of democracy for CNN, and I hope to see you there.” She said the show would be her last, even though CNN+ will officially shut down on April 30. “TV really is a team sport and the best team ever made this show. The journalists, the technicians behind the cameras, they put their heart and soul into this,” she said.
Another collaborator, Audie Cornish, was yet to launch her show, but when she switched from NPR, it was also announced that she would be appearing on CNN for breaking news and on a new podcast.
Other figures, such as Kate Bolduan with 5 things and Brian Stelter with Reliable sources daily, are already on CNN. The question is whether some of the news show formats are transitioning to the linear network, especially the ones that gained some traction even with the limited audience.
On Twitter, Scott Galloway, who hosted a weekly show focused on technology, media and society, said in a video: “Nothing is ever as good or bad as it seems. All I know about this is that this was so much fun and I feel so blessed to be a part of something that was so much fun and to work with such interesting and talented people.”
David Zaslav, CEO of Warner Bros Discovery, has made it clear that he wants to move CNN back to its roots with harder news. However, CNN+ has a large number of lifestyle, sports and entertainment programs in its offering. A show hosted by Alison Roman was scheduled for later in the year, as was Eva Longoria: looking for Mexico†
Jemele Hill, who will co-host a show next month, wrote on Twitter: “Some of you will try to make jokes at my expense, but it’ll be fine – it’s called a contract, learn about it. But there are people. who are part of our show staff who do not have the same protection. Good people will be out of work. But go away.”
A talent rep said it was likely that Warner Bros Discovery was about to pay out contracts, while others with figures staying with CNN may have to renegotiate. The terms of Wallace’s contract are unclear, but when he was hired at CNN+, the network made it clear that he would be exclusive to the streaming service.
There is also a lot of suspicion among CNN+ employees that the streaming service has become entangled in corporate politics, between the old leadership of the network and the new one. An insider said the whole thing reeked of “anger and ego”.
WarnerMedia went ahead with the launch of CNN+, although within weeks Discovery would take over the network and have a new leader, Light.
Discovery, meanwhile, was clearly well aware of the launch, but was skeptical of CNN+ as a standalone offering and decided to take a break from the weeks-old venture rather than overhaul the service or even make longer-term plans for it. a gradual closure. Andrew Morse, who led CNN+ to Thursday’s announcement, had said there were plans to bundle it with HBO Max. Discovery executives say CNN will play a role in the future of streaming; it just won’t be CNN+.
There was some mention of CNN+’s impending demise on Stelter’s Reliable sources daily, while speaking of a ‘clash of strategies’. His guest, Matt Belloni of Puck, told Stelter, “I’ve never been on a show to talk about the demise of that show.”