The project has been embroiled in controversy from the moment it was announced from both the left and the right, as well as journalists and the Clinton camp itself. Both sides wondered how fair it would be. Supporters were worried it would be a hatchet job. Opponents felt it would be an unfair promotion of Clinton as she prepared for a possible 2016 presidential run.
Ferguson wrote that from the moment he decided to do the film, Clinton operatives began pressuring him to back off and of 100 people he approached for interviews, only two would say yes.
This, of course, was the real consequence, and probably the real intent, of the announcements by the RNC, Philippe Reines, and David Brock. Neither political party wanted the film made. After painful reflection, I decided that I couldn't make a film of which I would be proud. And so I'm cancelling. (Not because of any pressure from CNN -- quite the contrary.) It's a victory for the Clintons, and for the money machines that both political parties have now become. But I don't think that it's a victory for the media, or for the American people. I still believe that Mrs. Clinton has many virtues including great intelligence, fortitude, and a deep commitment to bettering the lives of women and children worldwide. But this is not her finest hour.
CNN released a statement:
"Charles Ferguson has informed us that he is not moving forward with his documentary about Hillary Clinton. Charles is an Academy Award winning director who CNN Films was excited to be working with, but we understand and respect his decision."
UPDATE: NBC scrapped their Clinton miniseries a few hours later. "After reviewing and prioritizing our slate of movie/miniseries development, we've decided that we will no longer continue developing the Hillary Clinton miniseries," the network said in a statement Monday.
CNN has renewed Anthony Bourdain's Emmy-winning "Parts Unknown." The show, which debuted in the spring, is already in its second season. The third season with eight episodes will begin in the spring of 2014. Bourdain plans to visit Brazil, Las Vegas, and an African safari.
The show, created by outside production company Zero Point Zero that made his successful Travel Channel's "No Reservations." Picking up Bourdain was a move made by Jeff Zucker's predecessor Jim Walton last year to strengthen weekend programming and has worked well, giving CNN a boost in ratings Sunday evenings. It is also a sign that CNN is trying to find programming similar to that of other basic cable networks such as History and Travel rather than doing all in-house documentaries as it has in the past.