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Former CBS News president Susan Zirinsky will lead a new content studio for the company, producing news, documentary, and nonfiction programming for CBS, Paramount+, ViacomCBS channels and other platforms.
The new unit, See It Now Studios, already has a slate of projects in the works, including two documentaries abut the 9/11 terrorist attacks, a series for Paramount+ about Jeffrey Epstein associate Ghislaine Maxwell, and an investigative doc for Paramount+ about the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riots.
The first 9/11 doc is called The 26th Street Garage: The FBI’s Untold Story of 9/11, and will debut this Thursday on Paramount+. The other doc, Race Against Time: The CIA and 9/11, will air Friday on CBS and Paramount+.
The name See It Now stems from the iconic 1950s CBS News program produced by Edward R. Murrow and Fred Friendly. The program influenced future CBS News programming, including 60 Minutes (whose creator, Don Hewitt, had been a producer for See It Now) and CBS Reports.
In addition to being a source of content for ViacomCBS, the new studio will also partner with outside production companies and produce programming both internationally and domestically for other networks and streaming services. It will also partner with the CBS News and local stations group on programming and “insta-docs” in reaction to breaking news events.
Zirinsky will report to CBS CEO and Paramount+ news and sports chief content officer George Cheeks. Longtime documentary producer Terence Wrong will be senior executive producer of content oversight for See It Now Studios, with Aysu Saliba as supervising producer of development, Grace Kim as the unit’s production manager, and Amy Gardner as an associate producer.
Zirinsky announced her departure as CBS News president in April, with Neeraj Khemlani and Wendy McMahon named co-heads of CBS News and CBS TV Stations following her departure. At the time, CBS said it was in talks with “Z,” as Zirinsky is known inside the company, for a production deal.
A CBS News lifer (after Walter Cronkite broke the news that President Nixon had resigned, she fished the script from that show out of a trash bin in CBS’ Washington bureau), Zirinsky is well-regarded among CBS News producers and on-air staff, particularly for her producing skills.
“This is a studio built on the foundation of the incredible journalism and storytelling of CBS News but with a broader remit,” said Cheeks in a statement. “See It Now Studios will have the flexibility to work across a range of production formats and concepts to meet the growing needs of linear and streaming platforms, including producing premium documentary content for Paramount+. There is no one better to lead this new unit than the journalistic and producing force of nature that is Susan Zirinsky. She and her team have already hit the ground running.”
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