Jon Adler, a senior vice president who had a significant hand in developing CNN’s slate of original series, is set to leave the Warner Bros. Discovery-owned network at the end the year.
He has worked on more than 30 CNN series, and has supervised production of such programs as “Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy,” “First Ladies,” “Colin Quinn: Red State Blue State,” “The History of Comedy,” “Chasing Life with Sanjay Gupta” and “Christiane Amanpour: Sex and Love Around the World.”
Yet CNN, facing budget cuts under its debt-laden corporate owner, intends to tamp down its ambitions in that area, relying largely on its own efforts rather than working with outside production entities. CNN is still slated to air six of its original series and six CNN Films in 2023.
Adler played a large role in the growth of such efforts. He joined CNN in 2012, when the news operation was forming a division to tackle more documentary programming. Under former president Jeff Zucker, CNN put more weight behind such projects, initially as a mean of offering viewers something compelling at times when the news cycle wasn’t so furious. Over time, however, the documentary business proved fruitful for CNN. which launched signature series led by such figures as Anthony Bourdain, Stanley Tucci and W. Kamau Bell.
“I was first introduced to CNN when I interned for ‘Anderson Cooper 360’ during the Phuket tidal wave in December 2004. I was a freshman in college, and each night, it was my job was to bring Anderson his interview question cards until he left to go cover the story on location in Thailand. This was a formative experience for me, planting a seed that would eventually bring me back to the network years later,” Adler said in a memo to colleagues. “In many ways, the CNN Original Series brand and I grew up together. I can’t properly articulate the feeling of excitement in those early days. The chance to work for and learn from Amy Entelis has been the opportunity of a lifetime. From Anthony Bourdain to ‘The Sixties,’ ‘The History of Comedy’ to Stanley Tucci, and all the series in between — I’m incredibly lucky to have been a part of this marvelous ride.”
He may well find a new perch. Documentary programming has become more popular in recent years, with both NBC News and ABC News forming new studios to create content based on non-fiction for linear TV, streaming and audio.
Before joining CNN as a manager of talent and program development, Adler worked for Creative Artists Agency.