March 31st, 2022

CNN+ To Launch New FLASHDocs Unit with Chicago vs. Jussie Smollett

New Documentary Will Be Available on Friday, April 1


NEW YORK, NY – (March 31, 2022) – CNN+ will be the home to the newly formed CNN+ FLASHDocs a new documentary unit exploring timely and topical pop culture stories. The group will release standalone documentaries powered by the unparalleled journalism and insight of CNN, bringing CNN+ subscribers close to the essential stories of our time. The first documentary to be produced under the CNN+ FLASHDocs banner will be Chicago vs. Jussie Smollett. This deep dive into the Jussie Smollett case will contribute to the new streaming service’s slate of original, on demand programming and will be available exclusively for CNN+ subscribers on Friday, April 1.

“We wanted a way for CNN+ to tackle the stories shaping pop culture while contextualizing them with fresh reporting and nuanced voices,” said Katie Hinman, Vice President of Program Development for CNN. “This dynamic team moves at the speed of CNN while retaining a thoughtful approach and a premium look and feel. Chicago vs. Jussie Smollett is a perfect example of what CNN+ subscribers can expect to see more of.”

Accused of staging a fake hate crime in Chicago and sentenced to five months behind bars for lying to the police, Jussie Smollett has become synonymous with a hoax that underscored the larger cacophony of racism, homophobia, and political fissures in America. But behind the former Empire star’s stranger-than-fiction saga is a rarely discussed character: the city of Chicago, which had been undergoing its own racial reckoning surrounding the 2014 murder of Laquan McDonald and subsequent coverup. The Smollett incident pulled Chicago – and its justice system – into a whirlwind of closed-door decisions, pointed fingers, and unanswered questions about crime, punishment, and revenge just as the distrust in law and order was rising to crescendo.

Chicago vs. Jussie Smollett features never-before-broadcast footage from the night of the alleged attack, as well as the interrogation-room confession by the Osundairo brothers that ultimately led to the charges against Smollett. The documentary also features in-depth interviews with key voices from all sides of the case, including Smollett’s brothers, JoJo and Jocqui Smollett; Eddie T. Johnson, former superintendent of the Chicago police department; Kim Foxx, Cook County State’s Attorney; Dan Webb, special prosecutor; and Tamara Walker and Heather Widell, defense attorneys for Smollett.

“This film offers a provocative and nuanced perspective of a saga that for three years has dominated headlines like no other story,” said Eric Johnson, Executive Producer, Program Development for CNN.  “Everyone knows something about this story, but our film explores how the frenzy surrounding Smollett exposed historic fault lines within Chicago’s politics, ultimately leading to infighting, media gamesmanship and the question of justice versus revenge.”

Eric Johnson serves as an Executive Producer and Emily Taguchi serves as Supervising Producer for Chicago vs. Jussie Smollett.




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Press Contact:
Jordan Overstreet, CNN Original Series & CNN+ FLASHDocs Unit