CNN Highlights Four Shows for 2017

CNN will showcase the diverse slate of high-quality, unscripted CNN Original Series airing in 2017, including two new series, Believer with Reza Aslan and The History of Comedy, plus two returning favorites, This is Life with Lisa Ling and United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell. The panel will be moderated by Amy Entelis, executive vice president of talent and content development for CNN Worldwide.

Believer with Reza Aslan

 
 

Believer with Reza Aslan is a CNN Original Series that follows best-selling author and scholar of religions Reza Aslan as he immerses himself in customs and faith rituals around the globe. In the six-part spiritual adventure series, Aslan explores Ultra-Orthodox Judaism in Israel, Scientology in the U.S., Hindu asceticism in India, Vodou in Haiti, Santa Muerte in Mexico and an apocalyptic doomsday cult in Hawaii. Believer is produced by Whalerock Industries with executive producers Aslan, Lloyd Braun, Liz Bronstein and Chris Cowan.

This Is Life with Lisa Ling

This Is Life with Lisa Ling is an investigative docuseries in which award-winning journalist and author Lisa Ling travels across America immersing herself in communities that are unusual, extraordinary and sometimes dangerous. The series is produced for CNN by part2, with executive producers Ling, Amy Bucher and David Shadrack Smith.

United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell

United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell follows comedian W. Kamau Bell as he explores subcultures across the country, using comedy to start a conversation about race and our differences. Each hour-long episode of the Emmy®-nominated CNN Original Series strives to show the country is not built upon just one, but many diverse and colorful definitions of America. The series is produced by Objective Media Group America/All3Media with Bell, Jimmy Fox, Greg Lipstone and Layla Smith serving as executive producers.

The History of Comedy

The History of Comedy is an eight-part CNN Original Series executive-produced by Sean Hayes and Todd Milliner (Hazy Mills) with Emmy® winners Mark Herzog and Christopher G. Cowen (Herzog & Company). Using archival footage punctuated by contemporary interviews with comedy legends, scholars and current stars of the medium, The History of Comedy explores the spinning gears that make the comedic mind tick. From stand-up to sitcoms and late-night hosts to improv troupes, the series examines not only what makes us laugh, but also how comedy has affected the social and political landscape throughout history.


CNN Panel

 
 

CNN Panel Bios

Reza Aslan
Believer with Reza Aslan

Reza Aslan is the host of the CNN Original Series Believer with Reza Aslan. Aslan is an internationally renowned writer, commentator, professor, producer, and scholar of religions. His books, including his #1 New York Times Bestseller, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, have been translated into dozens of languages around the world. He is also a recipient of the prestigious James Joyce Award.

In addition to his role as a consulting producer on the acclaimed HBO series The Leftovers, Aslan is also the host and executive producer of two other original television programs, including Rough Draft with Reza Aslan, which premiered on Ovation. He also served as an executive producer on the ABC drama Of Kings and Prophets. His book Zealot has been optioned by Lionsgate and producer David Heyman, with a script penned by Oscar®nominated screenwriter, James Schamus.

In 2006, Aslan co-founded BoomGen Studios, the premier entertainment brand for creative content from and about the Middle East, which has provided an array of targeted services ranging from strategic messaging to grassroots marketing to publicity and social media outreach, to producers, studios, and filmmakers, including Jon Stewart's Rosewater, Netflix's The Square, Disney's Aladdin on Broadway and Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, The Weinstein Company's Miral, Discovery and TLC's All American Muslim and National Geographic's Amreeka.

Lisa Ling
This Is Life with Lisa Ling

Award-winning journalist Lisa Ling is the host of the CNN Original Series This Is Life with Lisa Ling.

Before coming to CNN, Ling was a field correspondent for The Oprah Winfrey Show and contributor to ABC News' Nightline and National Geographic's Explorer. She has reported from dozens of countries, covering stories about gang rape in the Congo, bride burning in India and the Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda, among other issues that are too often ignored. Ling got her start in journalism as a correspondent for Channel One News where she covered the civil war in Afghanistan at 21 years of age. She later went on to become a co-host of ABC Daytime's hit show The View, which won its first daytime Emmy during her time at the show. Ling has also served as a special correspondent for CNN's Planet in Peril series and was a contributing editor for USA Today's USA Weekend magazine. In 2011, her acclaimed documentary journalism series, Our America with Lisa Ling, was created and began airing on OWN.

Ling is the co-author of Mother, Daughter, Sister, Bride: Rituals of Womanhood and Somewhere Inside: One Sister's Captivity in North Korea and the Other's Fight to Bring Her Home, which she penned with her sister, Laura. She also serves on the Board of Directors for the California Museum.

W. Kamau Bell
United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell

W. Kamau Bell is a sociopolitical comedian based in The People's Republic of Berkeley, Calif. He is the host of the Emmy®-nominated, hit CNN Original Series United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell. In its first season, the series was also nominated for an NAACP Image Award, Television Critics Association Award, and IDA Documentary Award. Before United Shades, Bell was best known for his critically acclaimed but criminally short-lived FX comedy series Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell, executive-produced by Chris Rock. The New York Times called Bell "the most promising new talent in political comedy in many years."

Bell has released three standup comedy albums: Semi-Prominent Negro, ne Night Only and Face Full of Flour. Semi-Prominent Negro used the audio from Bell's acclaimed Morgan Spurlock-produced Showtime special of the same name. Face Full of Flour was named one of the Top 10 Best Comedy Albums of the year by iTunes and Punchline Magazine. He also continues to perform his one-man show The W. Kamau Bell Curve: Ending Racism in About an Hour at colleges and universities across America. He is the host of Kamau Right Now!, a public radio talk show that airs on KALW in San Francisco. He also has several podcasts including Politically Re-Active with Hari Kondabolu and Denzel Washington is The Greatest Actor of All Time with Kevin Avery.

Bell has appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, Conan, Real Time with Bill MaherThe View, WTF with Marc MaronThe Rachel Maddow Show, and Fresh Air with Terry Gross, to name a few. He has also written for VanityFair.com, CNN.com, Salon, Buzzfeed and The Hollywood Reporter. He is also proud to be the ACLU's Ambassador of Racial Justice and sits on the advisory board of Race Forward, a racial justice think tank.

Sean Hayes
The History of Comedy

Sean Hayes and Todd Milliner are executive producers on the CNN Original Series The History of Comedy. In 2004, Hayes and Milliner formed Hazy Mills Productions. Their first production, Situation: Comedy, a documentary television show in search of the next great sitcom, premiered on Bravo in the summer of 2005 and garnered wide critical praise.

Hazy Mills recently produced the sixth and final season of Hot in Cleveland, starring Betty White. Its premiere season generated the highest ratings in the history of TV Land. Additionally, the show received a nomination for the 2011 Screen Actors Guild Award® for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series. Hazy Mills also produces the NBC series Grimm, a dark yet fantastical cop drama that takes place in a world where Grimm's Fairy Tale inspired characters exist. They also produce the Emmy®-winning Hollywood Game Night; The Soul Man, starring Cedric the Entertainer; and the NBC comedy Crowded, starring Patrick Warburton and Carrie Preston. Additionally, Hazy Mills recently produced Must See TV: An All-Star Tribute to James Burrows for NBC.

Todd Milliner
The History of Comedy

Todd Milliner and Sean Hayes are executive producers on the CNN Original Series The History of Comedy. In 2004, Hayes and Milliner formed Hazy Mills Productions. Their first production, Situation: Comedy, a documentary television show in search of the next great sitcom, premiered on Bravo in the summer of 2005 and garnered wide critical praise.

Hazy Mills recently produced the sixth and final season of Hot in Cleveland, starring Betty White. Its premiere season generated the highest ratings in the history of TV Land. Additionally, the show received a nomination for the 2011 Screen Actors Guild Award® for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series. Hazy Mills also produces the NBC series Grimm, a dark yet fantastical cop drama that takes place in a world where Grimm's Fairy Tale inspired characters exist. They also produce the Emmy®-winning Hollywood Game Night; The Soul Man, starring Cedric the Entertainer; and the NBC comedy Crowded, starring Patrick Warburton and Carrie Preston. Additionally, Hazy Mills recently produced Must See TV: An All-Star Tribute to James Burrows for NBC.

Mark Herzog
The History of Comedy

In addition to being the founder and CEO of Herzog & Company/HCO, an Emmy®-winning television production company and entertainment marketing firm based in Los Angeles, Mark Herzog often directs, produces or executive produces many of HCO's projects.

Currently, Herzog is executive-producing The History of Comedy, an eight-part documentary series in partnership with Sean Hayes and Todd Milliner for CNN as well as The Nineties, the continuation of the Emmy-nominated decades' series (The Sixties, The Seventies, and The Eighties) in partnership with Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman. Also premiering in 2017, Herzog is executive-producing the six-part Netflix doc series Hot Girls Wanted: Turned On with executive producer Rashida Jones. For CNN Films, Herzog produced and directed the documentary Lady Valor: The Kristen Beck Story. He also executive-produced Killing Lincoln for Nat Geo and the award-winning Space Shuttle Columbia: Mission of Hope for PBS.

Herzog's recent credits include The Agent, a documentary series for Esquire that followed the highly competitive world of professional football representation, and Celebrity Adventure Club for Travel Channel, a three-part celebrity hosted travel exploration series with Jon Cryer, Eric Stonestreet, and Terry Crews. Earlier series and special projects include the acclaimed Gettysburg for the History Channel. Nominated for eight Emmys, the series won four awards, including Outstanding Non-Fiction Special. Herzog also directed David McCullough: Painting With Words for HBO and Playtone, which was short-listed for the Oscar®, and co-directed with Ken Burns on The Work To Come, a tribute to Senator Ted Kennedy for the 2008 National Democratic Convention.


Amy Entelis
EVP of Talent and Content Development, CNN Worldwide

 
 

Amy Entelis is executive vice president for talent and content development for CNN Worldwide. She is based in New York.

Entelis joined CNN in 2012 and is responsible for new program development and acquisitions for CNN Worldwide, as well as the identification and recruitment of on-air talent for CNN programming and platforms.

Under her leadership, CNN has launched three new premium content brands: CNN Films, created to co-produce and acquire documentary films and leverage distribution opportunities at festivals and in theaters; CNN Films Presents, which acquires and broadcasts encore runs of notable documentary features; and CNN Original Series, created to develop multi-part, non-fiction series.

Entelis and her original series team have developed more than 20 original nonfiction series, including the critically-acclaimed and award-winning Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown, produced by ZPZ Production, which has been honored with four consecutive Primetime Emmy® Awards for Outstanding Informational Series between 2013 and 2016, as well as Primetime Emmy® Awards for cinematography and writing, and a 2013 Peabody Award for excellence and meritorious work. For 2017, Entelis' team is developing Soundtracks: Songs That Made History executive produced by Dwayne Johnson; Believer with Reza Aslan; The History of Comedy executive produced by Sean Hayes, Todd Milliner, Mark Herzog, and Christopher Cowen; and, The Nineties, executive produced by Tom Hanks, Gary Goetzman, and Mark Herzog.

Other series developed under Entelis' guidance include Morgan Spurlock Inside Man, honored as Best Limited Series at the 29th annual International Documentary Association (IDA) awards; Chicagoland and Death Row Stories, with executive producer Robert Redford's Sundance Productions; the Primetime Emmy® Award-nominated The Sixties, The Seventies, and The Eighties, executive produced by Tom Hanks, Gary Goetzman, and Mark Herzog; United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell, Emmy®-nominated in its first year; The Hunt with John Walsh, produced by Zero Point Zero Production; Finding Jesus: Faith. Fact. Forgery produced by Nutopia Productions; and The Wonder List with Bill Weir.

Entelis shepherded This Is Life with Lisa Ling to a #1 premiere among cable news programs in its time period for total viewers and among viewers aged 25 to 54 years, and, Somebody's Gotta Do It With Mike Rowe debuted to the best premiere ratings ever for a CNN Original Series among viewers aged 25 to 54 years. Her team developed several groundbreaking series for 2016 including the Emmy®-nominated Race for the White House, from Kevin Spacey and Dana Brunetti, which established a new ratings record for a CNN Original Series premiere; and, Declassified: Untold Stories of American Spies, executive produced by Gregory Lipstone, Domini Hofmann, and former Congressman Mike Rogers.

Since 2013, CNN Films has acquired, co-produced, or commissioned more than 30 feature and short films, including Blackfish, directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite; Our Nixon, directed by Penny Lane; Life Itself, directed by Steve James; Ivory Tower, directed by Andrew Rossi; Dinosaur 13, directed by Todd Miller; Whitey: United States of America v James J. Bolger, directed by Joe Berlinger; Documented, directed by Jose Antonio Vargas; Glen Campbell…I'll Be Me, directed by James Keach; Blackface, directed by Roger Ross Williams; All-American Family, directed by Andrew Jenks; The Hunting Ground, directed by Kirby Dick; Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine, directed by Alex Gibney; Holy Hell, directed by Will Allen; Enlighten Us: The Rise and Fall of James Arthur Ray, directed by Jenny Carchman; and Now More than Ever: The History of Chicago, directed by Peter Pardini.

As part of her role leading the strategic direction for CNN Films and CNN Original Series, Entelis has developed unique co-production partnerships that extend nonfiction long-form storytelling beyond the television screen and further the impact of the content. Her team negotiated the acquisition of the Peabody and Emmy® award-winning film, 9/11 directed by Gédéon Naudet, including the filmmakers's rich archival material. The film was updated for the anniversary of the tragic events, 9/11: Fifteen Years Later, and CNN Worldwide has preserved the original film archive for future generations of researchers. Entelis also developed a co-production with The Documentary Group, for We Will Rise: Michelle Obama's Mission to Educate Girls Around the World, featuring First Lady Michelle Obama, Meryl Streep, Freida Pinto and CNN's Isha Sesay exploring the lives and challenges of girls in Liberia and Morocco seeking their educations, which, like Girl Rising, amplifies a call to action for women and girls. In 2015, Entelis led CNN's partnership with Tribeca Film Festival and Camden International Film Festival for a joint annual Filmmaker Retreat with CNN Films in Camden and Rockport, Maine, supporting the development of the next generation of documentary filmmakers.

CNN Films and CNN Original Series have also screened at the Sundance Film Festival, International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, SXSW Film Festival, Tribeca Film Festival, and Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival. CNN Original Series has partnered with Fremantle Media for the global distribution of select productions. CNN Films has partnered with companies including Paramount, Participant Media, Lionsgate, Kartemquin Films, Vimeo, RADiUS-TWC, and Magnolia Pictures for theatrical and/or digital film distribution throughout North America.

Entelis also leads the identification, recruitment, and development of on-air correspondents, anchors, and contributors for CNN Worldwide. The more than two dozen television journalists that have joined CNN since the beginning of her tenure have shaped a renewal of the global prominence of the network.

Entelis' illustrious career in television journalism began at ABC News as a producer on the weekly news magazine 20/20, and later as a producer at World News Tonight with Peter Jennings. During her 30-year tenure at ABC News, Entelis worked in various roles of increasing responsibility, ultimately serving as senior vice president for talent strategy, development, and research until May 2011. She hired and developed the careers of hundreds of ABC News journalists, including recruiting and managing talent for the network's most high-profile programs including Good Morning America, World News Tonight, Nightline, and 20/20. She received many awards while at ABC News, including the National News Emmy®, the DuPont-Columbia Award, the Front Page Award from the Newswomen's Club of NY, the Headliner Award, and the Planned Parenthood Award.

ABC News President Roone Arledge recruited Entelis for her first management role with a mandate to develop women and minorities for on-air positions. Later at ABC News, Entelis pioneered the first system in network news that coordinated the identification, recruitment, and development of all on-air talent. Following ABC News, Entelis served as executive vice president, talent strategy at Sucherman Consulting Group.

A graduate of Vassar College, Entelis received a Master's of Science in journalism from Columbia University and serves as a member of the Board of Visitors of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.