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‘Planet in Peril’: Provocative Eco-Reporting

Tom Shales, Washington Post
… recently, our collective consciousness has been raised to new and potentially panicky heights by landmark documentaries such as Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” and the BBC’s thrilling “Planet Earth.” To that list we can probably add “Planet in Peril.”

CNN’s new documentary is a combination of elements that made those other two films memorable: striking high-def nature photography as in “Planet Earth,” and a strong environmental viewpoint, as with Gore’s illustrated sermonette. In emulating both films, CNN’s fails to equal either, but it’s still indubitably worthwhile viewing — provocative in the best ways and refreshingly, rivetingly visual.

…”Species loss” is one of the four areas covered in the two-part, four-hour special (tonight and tomorrow night), and it’s heartbreaking to see a magnificent tiger felled by a bullet in a quick bit of acquired footage. Cooper travels to Cambodia in pursuit of poachers who leave hurtful snares scattered through the wild. Animals have been known to chew off a paw in attempting to escape the snares, which tighten around a limb the more the animal tries to get loose.

Besides “species loss,” the intrepid reporters cover deforestation, climate change and overpopulation. Only about half the various reports that make up the documentary were available for preview, but they reflect a tremendous amount of conscientious effort.

…”Planet in Peril” suffers from an occasional drowsiness of execution, not helped by a lulling musical track, though it’s always clear that we are looking at a massive effort and a project top-heavy with good intentions. Love him or loathe him, Cooper has a singular style that makes him unmistakably unique and a genuine talent for making the arcane and complex accessible.

With this ambitious project — not the kind of thing that Fox, CNN’s chief rival, would be likely to undertake — Cooper earns another feather for his cap and the network’s.
(23 October 2007)

Planet in Peril
A two-part CNN documentary begins tonight

Sarah van Schagen, Gristmill
Beginning tonight at 9 p.m. ET/PT, CNN will air a two-part documentary that takes viewers to the front lines of environmental change.

Hosted by CNN anchor Anderson Cooper (above), chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and Animal Planet host/wildlife biologist Jeff Corwin, Planet in Peril will focus on four main issues: climate change, deforestation, species loss, and overpopulation. The four-hour documentary was filmed across four continents and 13 countries (see Corwin with an Arctic cutie).

Check out the film’s interactive website, including a trailer for the documentary that features a new song from R.E.M. Below, an amusing collection of outtakes:
(23 October 2007)
Links, photos and YouTube at original.

CNN Takes Stock of a `Planet in Peril’

Frazier Moore, Associated Press
It’s a tough world, all right.

Too bad it’s not tougher. Right now Earth is looking pretty fragile as it suffers from increasing human punishment.

This isn’t really news, of course. But CNN has packed the two-night, four-hour “Planet in Peril” with information and images that give a familiar story new urgency. Here is an eye-opening, often heart-wrenching exploration.

Airing Tuesday and Wednesday at 9 p.m. EDT, “Planet in Peril” dispatched correspondents Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta, as well as Animal Planet wildlife biologist Jeff Corwin, to report on far-flung instances of “environmental change.” This term encompasses four key areas: climate change, vanishing natural habitats, disappearing species and human overpopulation.

By taking on so much, the series risks becoming a catchall bin of environmental woes.

“At first glance, it may seem unfocused,” said executive producer Charlie Moore. “But those are the four pillars. Almost everything falls under them, and they’re all interconnected. For instance, you can’t talk about endangered species without dealing with overconsumption of the world’s natural resources and overpopulation.”
(21 October 2007)