Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Shiny, happy people ... or not
Tonight we are doing something very different and pretty cool: As part of our "Planet in Peril" project, we are debuting a new song from REM called "Until the Day is Done." It's very, very powerful and evocative music, and we are jazzed the band made it available to us. But under the heading of "transparency" here's the backstory on how Michael Stipe and REM became a part of our "Planet in Peril" project, despite our clumsy efforts.

Early in the planning and shooting of the documentary (reminder: airs October 23 and 24 at 9 p.m.) we knew our research and storylines were solid and that our high-definition video from all over the world would be magnificent. So we wanted very strong and memorable music to make the doc even more powerful. Given their iconic status, legendary musicianship and longstanding interest in a lot of the issues our documentary would examine, we thought first of REM.

We've worked with Michael Stipe in the past and we guessed there could be a good fit. But we also knew it would come down to some very basic questions: Did the band have any new music coming out that might work with what we are doing? If so, would the timing work? And would the band even want be associated with our project?

That was the background when Charlie Moore -- who is executive producing the documentary -- and I cluelessly walked into the executive's office at Warner Music Group here in New York City. The folks there were fantastic. Charlie and I figured this would be a no-brainer. After all, we explained, CNN is owned by Time Warner and we were making a deal at Warner Music. All in the family, right? We'd get some sort of special consideration, get a deal done and then go have a little lunch. Totally clueless.

As we proceeded with our pitch, we vaguely noticed the thought balloon floating above this executive's head was: "These guys are rubes." So when we'd finished our clever pitch, the executive gently explained how a while ago Time Warner had sold Warner Music. They are not connected. No special consideration. We'd made a total hash of this. We were not "Shiny, happy people."

And yet, and yet, despite our uninformed if not self-destructive impulses (and with the invaluable help of Mark Shimmel of Turner Broadcasting) we are so, so fortunate to have this amazing music from REM, who, yes, loves our "Planet in Peril" project. In fact, Anderson is talking to Michael Stipe about it tonight on "360."

-- By David Doss, "360" Executive Producer

Dont Miss: REM debuting song on "360"
Posted By CNN: 2:57 PM ET
I have always LOVED R.E.M. since before they became "famous"! I think this is a great fit! Can't wait to see the video tonight and to hear from Michael!!

Great choice guys!!

Cynthia, Covington, Ga.
Posted By Cindy : 3:17 PM ET
It doesn't surprise me that Michael Stipe is interested in being a part of your "Planet in Peril" project.

I've always been a big fan of REM, especially Michael Stipe. Not only does he create some great music, I admire his dedication to controversial social causes.
Posted By Joseph Kowalski, North Huntingdon, PA : 3:20 PM ET
Hi David,
Well, I'm just glad it all worked out for you guys. You got the music you wanted, no lawyers or rights issues and most important you've all been spared another round of an AC360 SONG CONTEST...
I for one am thrilled, for I must admit I just wouldn't be able to rack my little pea brain for one more melody..Good luck on the Planet in Peril program. I'm looking forward to seeing and HEARING it..
Posted By Lorie Ann, Buellton, Calif. : 3:25 PM ET
Hello David,

Well, it all works out in the end and you are all indeed, "shiny, happy, people". When something is meant to be - it WILL happen.

Michael Stipe and REM are a perfect fit for Planet In Peril - their dedication to the subject matter has been inspiring to say the least.

Frankly I could not be happier and more excited that CNN has taken on this incredible project.

It is with great excitement and anticipation that I await tonight's program, the debut of "Until The Day Is Done" and Planet In Peril on the 23rd and 24th.

Thanks for being brave and going to the lengths you have to make this work. It is inordinately important. CNN is noted for goundbreaking work, but I have a strong feeling that PIP will blow everything else out of the water, as it were.

Appreciate you sharing the backstory on this David. To you, Anderson, Charlie and the entire 360 team - all of the best and rock on!
Posted By Pati McMillan, Camp Hill, PA : 3:52 PM ET
OMG is REM still around?

How come Anderson doesn't blog?

David, even I know that Time Warner and Warner Music split, didn't you see the article where Dick Parsons stole all the music and had it copied onto 50 IPods before it was sold? You should really read the press releases about the company that you work for.
Posted By Anonymous : 3:58 PM ET
I love REM! This song is sure to be a great addition to Planet in Peril. I can't wait until I can see it. And hear it. Counting the days now....

Barbara, Culver City, CA
Posted By Barbara : 4:04 PM ET
It's really neat that you guys going to show us viewers at home the video tonight on 360, Is going to be different and unique for a chance. I will be looking forward to hearing REM. Tonight's 360 should be a great show.

Jennifer - Anderson, South Carolina.
Posted By bluediamond (Jennifer) : 4:10 PM ET
I have loved REM for a long time. I'm excited to hear the new song and can't wait to see the whole documentary!
Posted By Pamina, New Rochelle, NY : 4:16 PM ET
Hey David,

First, I am not surprised to see Michael Stipe accepting your offer and am thrilled to hear a new song from R.E.M. They are very engaged and I am sure their song will be a perfect fit for the "Planet in Peril" project.

And you know,David, who cares if you looked less than shiny,happy people Charlie and you, you took a chance, you took a step,and that is what is important in life. Believing in something and taking actions. Good for you guys!

Anderson, you have a great show and you can put the song over and over.....again!!

As for "Planet in peril", my son gave the link to your site to one of his teachers. I am sure it will be a great teaching tool for our children. Thank you to all of you.

Joanne R.
Laval Quebec
Posted By Joanne R. Laval Quebec : 4:18 PM ET

It doesn't surprise me that even CNNers wouldn't know who was owned by whom these days. Can you double dip with this song? Use it for both Planet in Peril and as the AC 360 political theme song for the '06/'07/'08 Campaign? I am still waiting for that zippy theme song to liven up this campaign coverage. If you can't double dip, maybe Jeff can lend a hand with the legal stuff since his book is out now. Looking forward to hearing the song. I bet it is awesome.
Posted By Charlotte D, Stockton CA : 4:19 PM ET
Hi David, I give you an "A" for your efforts, albeit clueless. Things do have a way of working out in the end. I'm sure REM is very much honored to provide their music for your Planet in Peril project.

I can't wait to see Anderson's interview with Michael Stipe and hear the song tonight. I love that you try to do different things like these in your show.

Edmonds, Washington
Posted By Lilibeth, Edmonds, Washington : 4:50 PM ET
Dear David,

Thank you for the backstory on how REM became involved in the "Planet in Peril" documentary. They are the perfect choice for this project.

I am not surprised that they accepted the offer because of their long history of involvement in political and environmental causes, from Darfur and Burma to the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

I am certain that their new song "Until the Day is Done," will be the perfect complement to "Planet in Peril." Michael Stipe’s voice has an urgent and poignant quality about it that makes it perfect for the subject matter.

REM's song, "The One I Love" has always been a favorite of mine.

I would like to thank you, Anderson, and the entire crew of the "Planet In Peril" project for persevering to bring us this important documentary. I know it will be regarded as a great success.

I look forward to seeing Anderson's interview with Michael tonight. I am anxious to hear Michael's thoughts on the new song and his involvement in the "Planet in Peril" documentary.

See you tonight!

Jo Ann
Posted By Jo Ann Matese, North Royalton, Ohio : 5:00 PM ET
REM-how sweet is that!!!

Honestly, associating with the "Planet in Peril" project is such a no-brainer.

You guys at 360 rock (no pun intended).
Posted By Tammy C., Berwick, LA : 5:23 PM ET
I'm glad that you are doing the Planet in Peril project. Hopefully it will get more people involved in saving our planet and persuade the government to take these problems seriously.

Right now, there is a campaign in Congress to end aerial wolf hunts which are being carried out in Alaska, and may begin soon in the Greater Yellowstone region. It would be sad to reverse the thriving ecosystem in Yellowstone since the wolves have been re-introduced. The best way to stop it is for all of us to get involved.

Thanks for doing Planet in Peril, I look forward to watching.
Posted By Christina, Windber, PA : 6:31 PM ET
Wow! I love R.E.M., also. Shiney Happy People was one of my daughter's favorite songs. I can't wait to hear the new song tonight. I miss the music you used to play for breaks. I thought Anderson was friends with Michael Stipe? I have already warned both my children that they will be watching PIP with me. Do I see a DVD coming out for Christmas? Too bad it is not ready for this week. I had one home until last night and the other comes home tomorrow-fall break. Hm I'll TIVO tonight and see if my son likes the new song! Have a great night! P.S. AC did a great job on "The View"!
Posted By Kathy Chicago,Il : 6:33 PM ET
Hi David,

REM was the band in the 80's. Hopefully this will keep all age groups satisfied and happy, including Anderson Cooper. Pheeew!
Posted By Ratna, New York, NY : 7:26 PM ET
David - I don't know what to say....your blog was priceless, but not in a good way.
The Executive Producer in a major news organization doesn't know what divisions are owned by the parent company? you not have clearance or communications people that could have "clued" you in?
If you don't know this kind of simple, (internet browser at worst to use to find out) information, what should we think about how you handle the important "stuff," like vetting a broadcast?
Jennifer McDevitt, Los Angeles, CA
Posted By Jennifr McDevitt, Los Angeles, CA : 8:14 PM ET
Great music, great band, great show - what a combination! I can hardly wait to see PIP - I'm sure it will be more than we could imagine!

And while you and Charlie had a bit of a touch of foot in mouth disease with Warner Music, you tried and in the end your efforts paid off big time. Must be a lesson in that, don't you think?? LOL.

Annie Kate
Birmingham AL
Posted By Annie Kate : 8:48 PM ET
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