Current Makes Waves With Olbermann, New Schedule

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Current TV is hoping its new longform
original programming, along with the
addition of former MSNBC Countdown host
Keith Olbermann, will make the 60 million-
subscriber network more
current with cable viewers.

In an about-face, the network
has eschewed most of its shortform,
user-generated news and
information content for traditional
long-form reality and
scripted series that relate to the
news and issues in today’s contemporary
society. Current
co-founder Al Gore told Multichannel
last week during
its upfront presentation in New York that the
network’s independent platform and editorial
freedom will resonate with viewers.

“We are authentic, independent and fearless
— we tell stories that nobody else tells in
a challenging and engaging way,” Gore said.

Leading the network’s independent voice
will be Olbermann, who will host a nightly
primetime news and commentary show on
the network. Th e former MSNBC host, who
will have an equity stake in the company and
serve as its chief news officer,
will serve as executive producer
of the untitled show, set to
premiere in “late spring.” The
live show will air five nights a
week from New York.

Gore said Olbermann’s
presence is expected to boost
awareness and viewing. “We
obviously hope it will be fantastic,
and our confidence level
is as high as you can measure
it,” Gore said. “He’s unique and he has a passionate,
loyal following, and that’s good for
the network.” Current co-founder Joel Hyatt
added that the sportscaster-turned-liberal
pundit is “a perfect fit with Current.”

Olbermann’s show will join other newsbased
programs already on the network,
such as documentary series Vanguard and
off -network repeats of the Showtime series
This American Life With Ira Glass.

The network will also add new “real,” unscripted
series to its lineup in 2011, including:
Smoke Jumpers, which follows a smoke-jumping
firefighting unit deployed to parachute
into wildfires that traditional firefighting
crews can’t reach; and 4th and Forever, which
follows the Long Beach (Calif.) Polytechnic
High School football team, which has sent
more players to the National Football League
than any prep program.

Current last week launched its first
long-form scripted series, Bar Karma,
from video-game creator Will Wright and
longtime producer Albie Hecht.

Andrea Morabito is contributing editor at

Broadcasting & Cable.