Inside the CNN Stockroom: Network Recently Shot Pilot Starring MSNBC’s Shuster and NPR’s Martin

Amid the recent news of CNN’s rough first quarter, there’s been much speculation about what CNN U.S. chief Jon Klein should do to revitalize the cable news network’s line up. On Wednesday, (soon to be former) Politico reporter Michael Calderone polled everyone from Phil Donahue to Aaron Brown to Michael Hirschorn on the subject.

So what kind of development projects does CNN actually have in the works these day?

Here’s one….

Recently, according to CNN sources, the network’s in-house team shot a pilot for a news show featuring David Shuster of MSNBC and Michel Martin of NPR as co-anchors. The pilot, we’re told, also featured medical and opinion segments, and included appearances by several current CNN contributors, including Chrystia Freeland, the U.S. managing editor for the Financial Times and Jeffrey Toobin of The New Yorker

Reached on Wednesday night, Ms. Martin declined to comment. Ditto Mr. Shuster. Ditto CNN.

Will the project ever see the light of day?  It’s a toss-up. You can bet that the CNN cupboard is well stocked with ideas like the Martin-Shuster pairing that might never make it out of TV purgatory–that well-populated land where ideas exist when they are not quite alive and not quite dead.

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For example, last September, Fishbowl L.A. reported that CNN was casting for a Crossfire-like show, which would feature a conservative pundit dueling with a liberal over the news of the day.

And in March, Dylan Stableford of The Wrap reported that CNN was working on a pilot for a Morning Joe-like morning show.

TV networks are constantly testing out anchors and toying with new show ideas. Most never make it on the air. In the end, despite the best efforts of agents, development executives, and research departments (and despite the friendly speculation from colleagues past and present) most big casting decisions in TV news (see Stephanopoulos, George) still come down to the gut instincts of the network’s top boss.


Inside the CNN Stockroom: Network Recently Shot Pilot Starring MSNBC’s Shuster and NPR’s Martin