Susan Zirinsky is the senior executive producer of the award-winning crime and justice series 48 HOURS. Also, she is the senior executive producer of the primetime series 48 HOURS: NCIS and of the 2013 documentary series “Brooklyn D.A.”
Zirinsky’s work and programs have earned virtually every major journalism honor, including multiple Emmy Awards, a George Foster Peabody award, the Edward R. Murrow Award for Excellence, the Christopher Award, the Writers Guild of America Award and the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award. In 2013 she was presented the Lifetime Achievement Award by the New York Festivals International Television & Film Awards.
In addition to 48 HOURS, Zirinsky was the executive producer of the critically acclaimed SHOWTIME documentary “The Spymasters – CIA in the Crosshairs,” which featured the only interviews with all 12 of the living former and current heads of the CIA.
Zirinsky serves as the senior executive producer for breaking news specials for CBS News, such as “39 Days,” looking at the movement that formed after the Parkland, Fla., school shooting, and those done in the aftermath of the Dallas police shootings; the death of Mary Tyler Moore; the Paris terrorist attacks; the movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colo.; the elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn.; the death of Muhammad Ali; the death of Nelson Mandela; and the Boston Marathon bombings. Also, she was the senior executive producer for “Meghan Markle: American Princess” and the two-hour primetime special “Royal Romance: The Marriage of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.”
Since joining CBS News as a part-time production clerk in 1972, Zirinsky has worked for a variety of CBS News broadcasts and covered national and global news, several presidents, wars, international conflicts, the Olympics and the world of fashion. In addition, she is responsible for the oversight of CBSNews.com’s crime blog, “Crimesider.”
In her current position, Zirinsky also served as the co-executive producer of two “Person to Person” interview specials; she executive produced “David Letterman: A Life on Television”; and she produced “The Grammys Will Go On: A Death in the Family,” a documentary about the Grammys and the night Whitney Houston died, and “Vanity Fair’s Hollywood.”
Previously, she was an executive producer of CBS News’ award-winning broadcast “9/11,” a documentary on the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks that included the only footage of the first plane going into the north tower of the World Trade Center and of activity inside the Trade Center before the towers fell. The documentary has been updated for the first, fifth and 10th anniversaries.
Zirinsky has produced such primetime specials as “The Royal Wedding: Modern Majesty,” “Fashion’s Night Out” with Vogue editor Anna Wintour, “That’s The Way It Was – Remembering Walter Cronkite,” “Ted Kennedy: The Last Brother,” “Change and Challenge: The Inauguration of Barack Obama” and “Katie Couric’s ‘All Access’ Grammy Special.” Also, she produced the documentary series “The Injustice Files” for ID Discovery and the CBS News documentaries “The Lord’s Bootcamp,” “In God’s Name” and “Flashpoint.” In addition, she produced the critically acclaimed SHOWTIME documentary “Three Days in September,” which told the story of a school taken hostage in Beslan, Russia. The film was featured at the Tribeca Film Festival.
Prior to joining 48 HOURS in 1996, she was executive producer of “Campaign ‘96” (1995-1996), managing the daily operations of CBS News’ election-year political coverage, and of the primetime CBS newsmagazine, “Eye to Eye” (1994-1995), after having served as the broadcast’s senior broadcast producer and senior producer (1993-1994).
Zirinsky was the director of CBS News’ 1992 political reporting, responsible for coordinating coverage of candidates, issues and events for all CBS News broadcasts, including the presidential election. During that period, she was CBS News’ senior producer at the 1992 Olympic Winter Games in Albertville, France, where she oversaw the CBS News and Sports news desk for the network.
Earlier, Zirinsky served in several capacities for the “CBS Evening News with Dan Rather” in New York and Washington, D.C. In New York, she was its senior broadcast producer (1991-1992) and senior producer (1989-1991). In Washington, she managed all feature stories and oversaw editorial content of daily hard-news events (1986-1989). Zirinsky was CBS’ White House producer for more than a decade. She first joined the CBS EVENING NEWS as a producer in 1979.
Zirinsky worked on other CBS News broadcasts including the “CBS Morning News” and CBS EVENING NEWS weekend editions. She worked the Democratic and Republican National Conventions from 1976 through 1988 as a floor producer for Dan Rather, Lesley Stahl, Ed Bradley and Mike Wallace. In 1992 she was senior producer for all coverage at both conventions.
Zirinsky’s international news experience is equally extensive. She traveled overseas with presidents Carter and Reagan. Her assignments have taken her to Russia, China, Japan, Europe, Central and South America, the Middle East and Eastern Europe. In 1989 Zirinsky ran CBS News’ operations out of Panama during the United States invasion of that country and was in charge of CBS News’ operation in Beijing during the Tiananmen Square student uprising and military crackdown. Earlier that year, she was lead producer for CBS News’ coverage from Japan of Emperor Hirohito’s funeral. She was the senior producer responsible for setting up and overseeing the Network’s news operation in Kuwait while covering the first Persian Gulf War, and it was under her stewardship that CBS News was the first network to enter Kuwait, just behind the Allied forces.
Zirinsky was technical advisor/associate producer for writer/director James L. Brooks on the film “Broadcast News,” starring Holly Hunter as a Washington network news producer.
Zirinsky graduated cum laude from American University in Washington, D.C.