NEW YORK (AP) — After working 18 years at "The Daily Show," Kahane Cooperman had only a weekend off last summer before starting a job running Amazon's new video version of The New Yorker magazine.
In retrospect, she considers that a blessing.
"I would have lost my nerve if I had more time to think about having to do justice to the institution that is The New Yorker magazine," said Cooperman, who created the series with "Going Clear" filmmaker Alex Gibney and Conde Nast entertainment division President Dawn Ostroff.
The New Yorker regularly features a formidable mix of deeply reported stories and profiles, fiction, slices of life, cultural coverage and cartoons. Makers of "The New Yorker Presents" achieved the small miracle of capturing the magazine's rhythm and pioneering a "60 Minutes"-style newsmagazine with the work done by documentarians instead of news reporters.
Amazon is making two episodes a week available for five weeks, starting today, then will pause to assess the marketplace's reaction and decide whether to make more.
Each 30-minute episode has stories of various lengths, anchored by a longer piece from filmmakers like Gibney, Steve James, Roger Ross Williams, Dawn Porter and Eugene Jarecki. Examples are a profile of a gay star of Mexican wrestling, stories on competitive bull riding and police pursuit of a legendary silver thief, and a look at intelligence agency infighting before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Shorter pieces include a skit with Charles Grodin and John Turturro as a psychiatrist and patient, a story on erotic art created by a Finnish advertising executive and people who tell, in a 12-step-style meeting, of odd encounters with Bill Murray. Interstitials explore worlds within The New Yorker itself, like its cartoonists and fact checkers. Random Manhattan sites are visited, like a hatmaker in Harlem or the Morbid Anatomy Museum, where hipster girls skin rats.
Most of the show's pieces are inspired by things in the magazine, but Gibney didn't want video recitations of print articles. He asked filmmakers to focus on angles that interest them. One longer piece, Jarecki's look at Cuba, came from nothing that had been in the magazine.
"What does The New Yorker magazine provide for people?" Cooperman asked. "What it really does in each issue is provide a window into many different worlds. And I thought this show could do something similar."
It fills a void, too. Traditional news-magazines, with the exception of "60 Minutes," are scarce on network TV. "The New Yorker Presents" and Vice's work with HBO are taking the format in new directions.
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