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Zirinsky to head new CBS News original production unit See It Now Studios

CBS News has tapped its former president, Susan Zirinsky, to lead a production unit dedicated to news, documentaries, docuseries and unscripted programming.

Susan Zirinsky

See It Now Studios will develop and produce content for Paramount+, CBS and other ViacomCBS-owned networks, as well as international broadcasters and third-party platforms.

Zirinsky will serve as president of See It Now Studios, reporting to George Cheeks, president and CEO of CBS and chief content officer, news and sports for Paramount+.

The announcement comes five months after veteran exec and journalist Zirinsky, who was the first woman to serve as president of CBS News, stepped down from the role.

Rounding out the team are Terence Wrong, senior executive producer of content oversight, and Aysu Saliba, supervising producer for development. Grace Kim is production manager and Amy Gardner is associate producer.

The newly launched studio will also leverage the expertise of CBS News executive producer Mitch Weitzner and his team, which includes Sasha Reuther and Danielle Levy.

The studio unit unveiled four projects alongside its launch announcement, including two focused on the 20th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Paramount+ original documentary The 26th Street Garage: The FBI’s Untold Story of 9/11, narrated by actor Tom Selleck and coproduced with Efran Films, will premiere on September 9, while two-hour doc Race Against Time: The CIA & 9/11 will premiere the following day on both CBS and Paramount+.

Also on the docket is Ghislaine, a four-part Paramount+ original examining the connection between socialite Ghislaine Maxwell and the late Jeffrey Epstein, and six-part Paramount+ original Unsealed: The Insurrection – Where Did It Begin?, which examines the confluence of factors contributing to the attack on the US Capitol in January 2021. The latter is coproduced with XG Productions.

All projects produced by See It Now Studios will be distributed internationally by ViacomCBS Global Distribution Group.

In addition, See It Now Studios will create spin-offs of CBS News brands and produce “insta-docs” following significant news events in collaboration with Neeraj Khemlani and Wendy McMahon, presidents and co-heads of CBS News and Stations.

“We’ve got a slate of powerful projects that use immersive storytelling to illuminate people and places that rarely grant access,” said Zirinsky in a statement. “These are strong, story-driven projects, with engaging narratives and compelling characters that will keep viewers watching. All told through with the high-quality standards set by CBS News.”

Cheeks added that the new studio is “built on the foundation of the incredible journalism and storytelling of CBS News but with a broader remit.”

He claimed it has 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+.”

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