CNN announced Thursday that it is adding a string of documentaries and original series to its new primetime lineup.
The changes underscore the network's attempts to find a solution to its most persistent challenge: how to keep viewers watching when there's no big breaking news happening.
Mike Rowe, formerly of "Dirty Jobs," will return to CNN with a new program, "Somebody’s Gotta Do It," while John Walsh, host of "America’s Most Wanted" and Lisa Ling will join the network to debut an original series. A program called "The Jesus Code" is also debuting; the show promises to "take viewers on a forensic and archaeological journey through the Bible."
Anthony Bourdain's top-rated "Parts Unknown" series will return with a new eight-episode season starting Sunday, and has been picked up for 2015 and 2016 as well, CNN said.
The new primetime programs are set to launch at the beginning of summer 2014.
The primetime additions are part of chief Jeff Zucker's plan to bring more "attitude" and a variety of new programs to the screen. The network said Thursday that the new lineup follows in this effort to rebuild the network by offering both breaking news shows and new original series, films, and documentaries.
"The seamless integration of original series and live news coverage, which has been on display the last two months, is the foundation of our new primetime lineup," Zucker said Thursday while announcing the schedule at CNN’s Upfront presentation.
The evening schedule will begin the same with Erin Burnett at 7 PM followed by "Anderson Cooper 360" at 8 PM, but the 9 PM hour will now be taken over by the above original series, films, and in-house documentaries. At 10 PM, CNN will debut "CNN Tonight," a one-hour live news show that rounds up the top stories of the day.
The news is also a blow to Jake Tapper, Bill Weir and the other CNN hosts who have been filling the 9 PM slot. The network was reportedly considering whether or not to hand the slot over to one of these hosts; instead, none of them are getting the prize.