Wednesday on Sirius XM radio’s Ron and Fez Show, screenwriter Paul Schrader (“Taxi Driver,” “Raging Bull,” and many others) was promoting his new movie, “The Canyons,”when talk shifted to what else Schrader was working on. He broke the news that he’s in negotiations with CNN to produce a fiction series based on Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh and “the gun show culture.”
“I’m in kind of a negotiation with CNN to do a limited series,” he said. “They’re thinking of moving over to fiction. And I proposed that we do something on Tim McVeigh and the gun show culture. Because that’s what happened – when Travis Bickle moved from the 70s to the 80s, he met the gun show culture. That’s where Tim McVeigh came from. (laughs) And now, when Travis Bickle meets the social media culture – I don’t know what comes out of that.”
TheBlaze has reached out to CNN’s executive offices for confirmation on the Schrader series and any other possible new, non-news programming that may be in the works. We will update this story when we have additional details.
CNN has had a ratings problem in the past few years. With the exception of the interest in the George Zimmerman trial, the granddaddy of cable news networks is floundering, trying to establish and grow an audience. The Wolf Blitzer-hosted “Situation Room” gets beaten by Al Sharpton’s “Politics Nation.” Piers Morgan has been anything but a success. And on a typical day, Fox News Channel’s ratings are more than triple that of any competitor on CNN or MSNBC.
Considering new leadership at CNN ( in the form of ex-NBC honcho Jeff Zucker) some are likely wondering if the network might try something radical.
Could dumping some of it’s news programs be that radical spark?
Well, it’s already being done. In May, Multichannel News announced that CNN was launching an original, unscripted series called “Chicagoland” in 2014. “Chicagoland” purports to be more of a reality TV show that will “explore the people and politics of an iconic American city.”
But, could CNN go further and introduce a scripted, fiction show like the one Schrader mentioned?
Consider: MTV stopped playing music videos a long time ago and experienced incredible ratings growth with shows like “The Real World” and “Punk’d.” Similarly, once high-brow channels like TLC (The Learning Channel), Bravo and A&E (Arts & Entertainment) have also shifted course and stopped playing operas, ballets and educational shows to provide us with programming pablum like “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.”
If the other networks were so successful in changing their core programming, why would’t CNN — the Cable News Network — test the fiction waters? It appears that’s what’s happening.
The bigger question remains: Will a show on a terrorist and the “gun control” be the one that really brings success (or just a bunch of controversy)?
(H/T: Ron & Fez – The Interrobang)
Follow Mike Opelka on Twitter – @stuntbrain