Alex Gibney and Kahane Cooperman Q&A: ‘The New Yorker Presents’
The New Yorker is a storied magazine, dating back to 1925. Bringing it to life on the new series “The New Yorker Presents” are Oscar-winning director Alex Gibney (“Taxi to the Dark Side”) and “Daily Show with Jon Stewart” alum Kahane Cooperman, who has taken home 11 Emmys for producing this late-night staple. The pair oversaw the production of 11 episodes of this new series that streamed on Amazon Prime and capture the essence of the magazine that still sells over a million copies a week when so many titles have folded.
Each 30-minute episode is made up of a variety of vignettes on a wide range of topics. They include documentaries such as the one helmed by Gibney on Al Qaeda to monologues delivered by the likes of Emmy winner Paul Giamatti and Tony champ Alan Cumming. And viewers are given the opportunity to go behind-the scenes to see artists at work, creating the trademark cartoons that are sprinkled throughout the magazine.
Cooperman explains the process of putting together the program, which is contending in the Best Informational Series/Special category at the Emmys. “We had access to the archives and curated stories that could be visualized. Not every story lends itself to that. We knew that it would be like the magazine, a mix of fiction and non-fiction, poetry and cartoons.” And, as she acknowledges, “the challenge was to create a machine that could have many different wheels in motion at the same time.” In the end, she oversaw the creation of more than 50 short films.
Gibney, who is just wrapping up a three-year term on the motion picture academy’s board, has picked up five Emmys for writing and producing “Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God” (2013) and writing, directing and producing “Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief” (2015). He spoke in detail of the documentary he helmed for the series. “It is called “The Agent” and is a profile of an extraordinary FBI agent” and “it gets into the story that the CIA withheld critical information about the 9/11 hijackers.”