‘Who’s Talking to Chris Wallace?’ largely keeps it look for HBO Max debut

Former CNN+ show “Who’s Talking to Chris Wallace?” debuted its first batch of episodes on the HBO Max streaming platform Sept. 23, 2022.

The show, which ran for less than a month earlier this spring on the ill-fated CNN+ streamer, is so far the only non-documentary program from the service that’s gotten a second life.

New episodes are released for HBO Max subscribers Fridays and CNN will air a compilation of highlights from each week’s show on weekends.

The key art, released earlier in 2022, seemed to suggest the network might go a different direction in the show’s graphics, but ultimately that wasn’t the case.

Despite unveiling updated key art earlier in 2022 that seemed to suggest the new iteration would go in a different graphical direction, the show itself stuck to its original gold and black look with linear and curved elements inspired by the CNN logo.

Both insert and on-set graphics also remain essentially the same.

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The show has a reworked open that includes the gold and black animation along with windows showcasing clips of Wallace and his guests. The network plans to change out the clips periodically, according to a source.

The first episode of the new show was not filmed in-studio but rather on location.

The other two released in the original batch, featuring Tyler Perry and Shania Twain, were filmed in studio Studio 21V at CNN’s New York City Hudson Yards building.

This space was previously home to “Reliable Sources Daily” and was built with the intention for being used for multiple CNN+ productions, though it never got much use beyond that.

The studio features seamless LED video walls on three sides along with a circular video tile array installed in the floor.

There’s also a circular element in the ceiling outfitted with color-changing elements and lighting fixtures that are designed to appear on camera — and wide shots of the new episodes show them to turned yellow to match the show’s graphics. 

On the rear video wall, meanwhile, “Who’s Talking” simulates two narrow bands of the white sculptural panels with abstract plus-sign motifs that the network installed in one of its Washington, D.C. studios for the streamer.

Wallace’s shows for CNN+ largely originated from that space.

The plus-sign-inspired desk that Wallace used on the CNN+ version is still being used. Sources say CNN built multiple versions of the desk and shipped them to multiple facilities.

Since CNN+ shuttered, the desks have been seen on CNN programming as well. 

The desks were likely pricey to build, so it’s not surprising that CNN opted to keep them around. 

Wallace was one of the biggest names CNN hired for its streamer and has stuck around even after the entire venture was closed down after less than a month amid reports of disappointing signup figures and massive costs. 

CNN reportedly spent around $300 million to create the streaming service — only to have to refund nearly all of the subscriber revenue it managed to collect in its less-than-a-month in operation.

The service launched shortly before WarnerMedia was merged with Discovery to form Warner Bros. Discovery.

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WBD execs reportedly wanted CNN to hold off on entering streaming until after the merger, but were barred from communicating that with then-current management.

Ultimately, WBD released plans to combined Discovery+ and HBO Max into a single offering. In the meantime, CNN content has been added to HBO Max.

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