CBS News has announced the launch of See It Now Studios, a new content provider that will create documentary, unscripted and news programming that will run on Paramount+, the CBS TV network and international broadcasters.
The unit will develop original documentaries and docuseries and act as an in-house pipeline for Paramount+, CBS and ViacomCBS networks. The group will also produce content for third-party platforms and will partner on projects with outside prodcos. Productions from See It Now Studios will be distributed globally via the ViacomCBS Global Distribution Group.
Leading the unit will be award-winning journalist and former CBS News president Susan Zirinsky (pictured), who has been named president of See It Now Studios. Zirinsky will report to George Cheeks, president and CEO of CBS and chief content officer, news and sports for Paramount+.
See It Now Studios will also develop spinoffs of CBS News brands and produce “insta-docs” following major current events in collaboration with Neeraj Khemlani and Wendy McMahon, presidents and co-heads of CBS News and Stations.
The name of the unit comes from the series See It Now, produced by legendary TV journalist Edward R. Murrow and Fred Friendly, which launched on Nov. 18, 1951 and opened with the first live simultaneous coast-to-coast broadcast TV transmission. The show was a major influence on TV journalism and led to the launch of 60 Minutes.
Joining Zirinsky at See It Now Studios are Terence Wrong as senior executive producer of content oversight and Aysu Saliba as supervising producer, development. Grace Kim is the strand’s production manager, and Amy Gardner is an associate producer. Zirinsky will also be supported by executive producer Mitch Weitzner and his team of Sasha Reuther and Danielle Levy.
See It Now Studios has a full production slate set for 2021 and beyond, with the first projects focusing on the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks: The 26th Street Garage: The FBI’s Untold Story of 9/11, about the evacuation of the FBI’s New York headquarters, narrated by Tom Selleck, which premieres on Paramount+ today (September 9); and Race Against Time: The CIA and 9/11, a two-hour documentary tracing the intelligence agency’s efforts to stop Osama bin Laden, which debuts on Paramount+ on September 10.
Also in production from See It Now Studios are a four-part docuseries Ghislaine, about the allegations against socialite Ghislaine Maxwell and the Jeffrey Epstein case; and Unsealed: The Insurrection – Where Did It Begin?, an examination of the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol, a co-production with XG Productions.
“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.”