The new cable news channel Al Jazeera America, the U.S.-based branch of the Al Jazeera Media Network launching on August 20th, has announced the hiring of Kathy Davidov and Cynthia Kane as the senior executive producer and senior producer for its in-house documentary film unit. The plan is for the network to both produce docs and doc series and to commission and acquire ones on topics like immigration, education, poverty, healthcare and the justice system.
Davidov comes from National Geographic Television, where she oversaw specials for the “Explorer” series as well as shows like “Brain Game” and “Border Wars.” Prior to that, she produced “Trading Spaces” and other series at TLC, as well as programming for Discovery, CNN, NBC and USA Today. Kane, who’ll work with Davidov on commissions, co-productions and acquisitions, comes from ITVS, where she managed over 150 projects, and Sundance Channel, where she co-created the “Doc Day” programming strand.
“Kathy, Cynthia and the documentary team will be building on Al Jazeera’s unwavering commitment to create groundbreaking, award-winning programming told from the human side of the story,” said Shannon High-Bassalik, senior vice president, documentaries and programs for Al Jazeera America in the announcement. “From Peabody and Polk Awards to Foreign Press Association and Alfred I. duPont Columbia University Awards, Al Jazeera documentaries have been highly regarded by the most prestigious journalism organizations in the world. That rich tradition will continue at Al Jazeera America under Kathy and Cynthia’s leadership.”
Al Jazeera America intends to compete with existing U.S. cable news channels, many of who have their own doc programming, ranging from series like “Lockup: Extended Stay” to more cinematic fare like “Our Nixon.” MSNBC continues to air a three-hour “Doc Block,” while CNN recently announced a fall doc slate that includes “Blackfish” and “The Flag.” Some of the documentaries produced by Al Jazeera prior to the launch of Al Jazeera America can be watched on the network’s YouTube channel.