W. Kamau Bell will return to TV in 2016, in a new Original Series for CNN, the network announced today.
The comedian will travel across the country exploring various communities in "United Shades of America," which will follow the political gadfly as he accepts the challenge to boldly explore the far corners of our country and its various groups and subcultures. Along the way, he will ask questions, get himself into some and at times unpredictable situations, and – most importantly – make people laugh.
The series will strive to show the United States is not built upon just one, but many diverse and colorful definitions of America.
Produced by Objective Productions, the serial marks CNN’s continuing commitment to build on its strategy of offering high-quality original content in addition to live, breaking news.
In 2013, FXX canceled Bell’s late night talk show, "Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell," citing declining ratings after the show was moved from FX to FXX – a move that itself was questionable, when it happened earlier the year.
The news cames months after the show scored its best ratings ever, while still on FX, delivering series highs in total viewers (577,000) and Women 18-49 (178,000).
I say the move to FXX was questionable, because, as an FX offshoot channel in its first year, it wasn’t reaching anywhere near the number of households FX was at the time, so a drop in viewership should’ve been expected. It’s almost as if FX intentionally sent it FXX to die.
After its move to FXX, viewership dropped significantly – to as low as 12,000 total viewers during its timeslot, and registered a "0" on the Nielsen charts.
It also probably didn’t help that, when it was moved to a nightly program on FXX, it was going directly up against "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart," at 11pm, an immensely successful draw. When it was on FX, it aired on Thursday nights only at 11pm, so it was already in competition with "The Daily Show," but that was just one night a week. When it moved to FXX, it was on 4 nights a week, competing each night. Tough for a brand new series, on a brand new network.
But welcome back Mr Bell, and kudos on the new gig at CNN.