The Insider: Bearing the Bad News in Hi-Def

Oct 21, 2007  •  Post A Comment

CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Animal Planet host and wildlife biologist Jeff Corwin spread out to 13 countries on four continents for “Planet in Peril,” a four-hour documentary about four issues threatening Earth and its inhabitants: climate change, deforestation, species loss and overpopulation. It will premiere at 9 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday on CNN.
The Insider talked with David Doss, “Peril” senior executive producer and executive producer of “Anderson Cooper 360,” not long after he’d returned to New York from a West Coast screening of the documentary, which was produced in high definition.
The Insider: “Planet in Peril.” Could you not have come up with a title that was more sweeping or dramatic?
David Doss: We believe the planet is in peril. The science says the water is rising. It says the species are disappearing at an alarming rate. We see that the ice sheets in Greenland are going far faster than anyone ever expected, and none of that is good. Now, is that because of man? Is that because of regular cycles? Are they things that we can change? That’s the question on a lot of people’s minds. But there is no question that these are perilous times for the Earth.
The Insider: Which of the segments do you think will resonate most with viewers at large?
Mr. Doss: I think when Anderson and Jeff Corwin are in Cambodia with the poachers and the last tiger. I think that’s very powerful. I think when Sanjay is in China with the toxic rivers and the high cancer rates. I think when Jeff is in Madagascar and you see clearly how much of Madagascar has been cut down for agriculture vs. the immense amount of unique species that live there. It’s just awe-inspiring. Maybe not in a good way, but it’s awe-inspiring. Toward the end of the second night, we get into the issue of what’s called environmental racism and we bring it home. We’re looking at a family that lives near the Houston ship canal, and their little boy for no apparent reason gets leukemia. In the Bronx we learn a lot about environmental racism. There are an awful lot of people who are on the receiving end of decisions that other people make. To them, what’s happening to polar bears and to poachers in Southeast Asia, they don’t care much. The trick is how do they get a better sense of taking control of their lives. It does bring it home in a very visceral way.
The Insider: Will having done these four hours in hi-def spoil you for your everyday video format?
Mr. Doss: No, it doesn’t spoil us for everyday, although it’s nice to be spoiled. When you have vistas and just extraordinary places to shoot—you know, Greenland, Alaska, Cambodia, Thailand, the Amazon. The rainforest canopy segment in HD is cinematic. There is no getting around it: It is beautiful. There is something about the intensity of those images that works perfectly with the intensity of the issues.
AThe Insider: Assuming there is a “Return to Planet in Peril,” where will it go and when?
Mr. Doss: I think there will be. That’s not a definite, but I think there will be. Next year. But the truth is that logistics will be tricky because it’s an election year, and the ability to get Anderson out and to get the people who worked on it out, without getting in the way of “360,” will be a real tricky piece of scheduling. We would no doubt look at water, the oceans, the rivers. A friend told me there are investors in Canada who are looking at water as the next oil, as the next absolutely vital resource for the United States. That’s scary.
The Insider: What’s your own personal least green habit?
Mr. Doss: I’m a New Yorker, so I don’t drive very much. Probably, honestly, diapers. We don’t have biodegradable diapers. [My daughter] is 18 months old. That’s a lot of diapers.


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