CNN is ending ‘This Is Life With Lisa Ling,’ a casualty of budget cuts

The CNN documentary series This Is Life With Lisa Ling will end its run on the network this year, a victim of the news network’s recently announced budget cuts.

Ling confirmed to The Times that the show’s ninth season, in which she often embeds herself in situations to report on the fringes of American society, will be its last. The final six episodes of the program begin November 27 on CNN at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. Pacific Time.

“I was hoping to get to 10 seasons, but we didn’t make it,” Ling said in a phone interview from her home in Los Angeles. “I would love to do many, many more seasons, especially now that we exist in these bubbles and follow people who stand up for what we believe. In a way, we’ve kept ourselves from really getting to know people who might be different or think differently than we do.”

Lisa Ling tours a RealDoll factory in her CNN series, "This is life."

Lisa Ling tours a RealDoll factory in her CNN series This Is Life.

(CNN)

This Is Life debuted in 2014 and is currently the longest-running show under the CNN original series banner, created to bring non-fiction films and series to the network that could draw viewers in times of slow news.

“Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown” was the biggest hit to emerge from the unit led by Amy Entelis, CNN executive vice president for talent and content development. CNN Original Series, which has brought awards, younger audiences and new advertisers to the network, has six projects scheduled to run on CNN.

The division is expected to face changes. Last month, CNN chief executive Chris Licht told employees there will be significant cost cuts on the network as parent company Warner Bros. Discovery has a mandate to cut costs at the recently merged company. As a result, the CNN Original Series entity will no longer acquire programs or films from outside production companies such as Part2 Pictures, creators of This Is Life.

According to a person on the network familiar with the discussions and not authorized to comment publicly, Licht still wants CNN to create long-form programs and has asked Entelis to explore how to do this internally.

“We are extremely proud of the work we have produced together and with our partners at Part2 Pictures,” the network said in a statement. “The important seed Lisa sown will continue to grow at CNN as we continue our commitment to shine a light on underreported stories and the people who make up the fabric of America.”

This Is Life is the rare news show that takes a serious and in-depth look at unusual issues, trends and groups such as Satan worshipers, polygamists, swingers and sex workers, often putting a human face on otherwise seemingly sensational subjects.

During the pandemic, when shutdowns limited production mobility, Ling devoted an entire season to historical examples of prejudice and violence against marginalized and ethnically diverse communities, including Asian Americans.

Ling’s themes this season include the impact of virtual reality and artificial intelligence and what this means for the future of real human interaction.

In December, Ling devotes an hour to the mental health crisis in Los Angeles and how it relates to the city’s homeless camps. The episode begins with Ling’s first-hand experience: her husband and daughter were confronted and threatened in Santa Monica by a homeless man who was later arrested for burglary. Ling tracks down the man and interviews him after his incarceration.

Ling said she hopes “This Is Life” could end up on another network or streaming service.

“I’m not done yet,” she said. “Personally, I don’t want to live in a non-fiction world full of cooking shows and real-life crime. I think there’s an audience for depth.”

Separately, NBC News announced that it has hired CNN “Early Start” host Laura Jarrett as senior legal correspondent. The daughter of former Obama administration adviser Valerie Jarrett was with CNN for six years.

https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/business/story/2022-11-17/cnn-budget-cuts-this-is-life-with-lisa-ling-ending CNN is ending ‘This Is Life With Lisa Ling,’ a casualty of budget cuts

Sarah Ridley

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