Fugi­tive hunter Walsh back with new CNN show

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - ENTERTAINMENT - By David Bauder

NEW YORK — To get back into tele­vi­sion, John Walsh had to re­lin­quish some of the con­trol that he’d grown used to. Walsh, who chased fugi­tives for 26 years, first on Fox’s Amer­ica’s Most Wanted and a short postscript on Life­time, re­turns Sun­day on CNN (8 p.m.) with a new show, The Hunt. Af­ter years where he made his own pro­gram, this time the pro­duc­tion team be­hind Anthony Bour­dain’s Parts Un­known was as­signed to the show by CNN chief Jeff Zucker. “The hard­est thing is the let­ting go and the squash­ing of ego when you’ve been suc­cess­ful,” Walsh, 68, said. He mea­sures suc­cess with sta­tis­tics, say­ing his ef­forts to pub­li­cize crimes and en­cour­age view­ers to tip au­thor­i­ties con­trib­uted to the cap­ture of 1,231 fugi­tives and the re­cov­ery of 61 miss­ing chil­dren. That score­card, how­ever, may have con­trib­uted to the down­fall of Amer­ica’s Most Wanted. Walsh said that in its last few years, he was ob­sessed with get­ting as many cases on the air as pos­si­ble, to the show’s detri­ment. “It be­came overwhelming,” he said. “We would have re-cre­ations that were two min­utes long. You never got a sense of the vic­tims. You never got a sense of what was go­ing on. We were old and tired.” The Hunt slows down and tries to tell a story. The first hour-long episode con­cen­trates on the case of Shane Miller, a Cal­i­for­nia man sus­pected of killing his wife and two daugh­ters last year. Most of the CNN shows will have one case or two. Work­ing with Zero Point Zero Pro­duc­tions took a huge pres­sure off him, Walsh said. Zucker, the long­time ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer of the To­day show be­fore mov­ing up in man­age­ment, said he grew up in the busi­ness with Walsh. The Hunt is part of his ef­fort to cre­ate des­ti­na­tion non-fic­tion shows to sus­tain CNN dur­ing slow news pe­ri­ods. “Part of what we’re try­ing to do at CNN is do good sto­ry­telling and good work,” he said. “I think John ex­em­pli­fies both of them.” The Hunt will soon an­nounce a part­ner­ship with Face­book to pro­mote Am­ber Alerts. Al­though Walsh is ea­ger to use so­cial me­dia for his crime-fight­ing ef­forts, he said the vast ma­jor­ity of tips he gen­er­ates is through tele­vi­sion. “I will al­ways be the par­ent of a mur­dered child,” said Walsh, whose ef­forts be­gan af­ter the 1981 kid­nap­ping of his six-year-old son Adam. “I will al­ways be that an­gry, driven guy.”

Walsh re­turns to TV on Sun­day.

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