Studios Launches with Two 9/11 Documentaries Premiering on Paramount+ and the CBS Television Network; Docuseries on Ghislaine Maxwell and the January 2021 Attack on the U.S. Capitol Also in Production for Paramount+
Sept. 8, 2021 – CBS News is launching SEE IT NOW STUDIOS, a new content provider that will produce news, documentary and unscripted programming for Paramount+, CBS, the ViacomCBS family of networks, international broadcasters and other content platforms. Award-winning journalist and former CBS News President Susan Zirinsky has been named President of SEE IT NOW STUDIOS and will report directly to George Cheeks, President and CEO of CBS and Chief Content Officer, News and Sports for Paramount+.
“This is a studio built on the foundation of the incredible journalism and storytelling of CBS News but with a broader remit,” said Cheeks. “See It Now Studios will have 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+. There is no one better to lead this new unit than the journalistic and producing force of nature that is Susan Zirinsky. She and her team have already hit the ground running.”
See It Now Studios will develop original documentaries and docuseries, and will be an in-house pipeline for Paramount+, CBS and ViacomCBS networks. The unit will also produce for third-party platforms and partner on projects with outside production companies. See It Now Studios’ productions will be distributed globally by the ViacomCBS Global Distribution Group.
The studio will also create spinoffs of CBS News brands, building on the reporting and resources of CBS News, and produce “insta-docs” in the wake of monumental current events in collaboration with Neeraj Khemlani and Wendy McMahon, presidents and co-heads of CBS News and Stations.
“See It Now Studios will deliver premium, impactful non-fiction series and unscripted programming,” said Zirinsky. “We’ve got a slate of powerful projects that use immersive storytelling to illuminate people and places that rarely grant access. 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.”
The name SEE IT NOW STUDIOS is inspired by the famed series “See It Now,” produced by Edward R. Murrow and Fred Friendly, which launched on Nov. 18, 1951 and opened with the first live simultaneous coast-to-coast broadcast TV transmission. “See It Now” was a major influence on television journalism and led to the launch of “CBS Reports” and 60 MINUTES.
Joining Zirinsky in See It Now Studios are Senior Executive Producer of Content Oversight Terence Wrong, an experienced, award-winning storyteller who has produced more than 200 hours of documentaries and docuseries for broadcast, premium and cable, and Aysu Saliba as Supervising Producer, Development. Grace Kim is the unit’s production manager, and Amy Gardner is an associate producer. Zirinsky will also draw on the strength of executive producer Mitch Weitzner and his established team of Sasha Reuther and Danielle Levy.
See It Now Studios has a full slate of productions set for 2021 and beyond, with the first documentaries focusing on the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
Productions on the See It Now Studios slate include:
THE 26th STREET GARAGE: THE FBI’S UNTOLD STORY OF 9/11 – A Paramount+ original documentary streaming on Thursday, Sept. 9. Narrated by award-winning actor Tom Selleck, who plays New York’s police commissioner on CBS’ long-running drama BLUE BLOODS, THE 26TH STREET GARAGE: THE FBI’S UNTOLD STORY OF 9/11 features the never-before-told-on-television story of how in the desperate moments after the 9/11 attacks the FBI was forced to evacuate its New York headquarters, and transformed a greasy automotive garage into a new command center. There, the agents tackled disturbing questions. What did they miss? And could they have prevented this? But within hours, from the 26th Street garage, agents launched the FBI’s most complex and important investigation in U.S. history. In the days that followed, they rewrote the rules for counter-terrorism operations forever. THE 26TH STREET GARAGE takes viewers inside this story of ingenuity, teamwork and determination through exclusive interviews with the FBI agents and officials who were there. This is a co-production with Efran Films, and the realization of a two-year effort by retired FBI special agent Anne Beagan and television veteran Craig Turk. Watch a Preview
RACE AGAINST TIME: THE CIA AND 9/11 – On Friday, Sept. 10 at 8:00 PM, as the 20th anniversary of 9/11 approaches, the CBS Television Network and Paramount+ will premiere a two-hour documentary featuring former top officials and elite operatives inside the CIA, sharing dramatic, exclusive, and haunting first-person accounts of their efforts to stop Osama bin Laden and the catastrophic attack they knew was coming…sometime, somewhere. Sept. 11, 2001 marked one of the greatest failures in the history of the nation’s premier spy agency, but also sparked what became one of its greatest successes – the elimination of the world’s most-wanted terrorist. For these CIA insiders, it was a pursuit that began years before 9/11 and ended long after. The documentary features extensive interviews with Leon Panetta, former CIA director; John McLaughlin, former acting CIA director; Jose Rodriguez, former director of the CIA Counterterrorism Center and director of the Clandestine Service, who ran the agency’s controversial enhanced interrogation program; former senior intelligence analyst Cindy Storer; former operations officer Marty Martin; former staff operations officer Tracy Walder; former chief targeting officer Nada Bakos; and former targeting analyst Sarah Carlson. Also featured will be rare, first-hand accounts from Hank Crumpton, who led the CIA’s effort against Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan after the 911 attacks. CBS News senior national security contributor Michael Morell, former CIA acting director and intelligence briefer to President George W. Bush, will offer detailed historical perspective on the events as they happened. Also featured is insight from George Tenet, who led the CIA as director of central intelligence at the time of the attacks, and Richard Clarke, who was the national coordinator for counterterrorism working in the White House during both the Clinton and George W. Bush Administration. Mitch Weitzner is the executive producer. Sasha Reuther is the senior producer. Josh Gaynor and Beein Gim are the producers. Danielle Levy and Emily Wichick are the coordinating producers. Watch a Preview
GHISLAINE – In what could be one of most closely watched trials, Ghislaine Maxwell is scheduled to face a jury on charges of sex trafficking in connection with her relationship with the late Jeffrey Epstein. GHISLAINE, a four-part series for Paramount+, will unpack the allegations against the socialite, the abuse the victims endured and its lasting impact. The immersive project will tackle what Maxwell knew, how she funded her lifestyle and the alleged money trail between her and Epstein and major figures like Britain’s Prince Andrew. The series will feature those accusing Epstein of unspeakable acts, ranging from survivors who say they were secretly filmed by Epstein to those who say they accompanied Maxwell on missions to recruit other victims. Also interviewed are friends of Ghislaine Maxwell’s wealthy if not infamous family and a former officer familiar with circumstances surrounding Prince Andrew.
UNSEALED: THE INSURRECTION – WHERE DID IT BEGIN? – A deep dive for Paramount+ into the forces that united in rage to attack the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. This timely six-part series will take viewers inside the volatile world of today’s far-right extremists, who share an anti-government ideology shaped by notorious incidents like Ruby Ridge and Waco that would inspire deadly homegrown terrorism, including the 1995 bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City that killed 168 people. The director of Homeland Security states that today, far-right terrorism poses a bigger internal threat than ISIS or al Qaeda. So where are these groups located? And what mayhem are they planning next? They are ready to tell you themselves in this gripping new docuseries. This is a co-production with XG PRODUCTIONS.
Zirinsky is an acclaimed journalist and highly respected senior executive producer at CBS News. She began her career in the CBS News Washington bureau two weeks after the Watergate break-in and has earned virtually every major broadcast journalism award and accolade. At CBS News, she produced a wide variety of award-winning documentaries and programs, and she covered a range of historic stories, from the Gulf War to the student uprising in Tiananmen Square, from the White House for 10 years to the 9/11 attacks, and from the Paris terrorist attacks to the mass shooting at a Parkland, Fla. school. Prior to being named president of the See It Now Studios, Zirinsky spent two years as president and senior executive producer of CBS News, becoming the first woman to hold that job in the history of the Network.