It has been two-and-a-half years since America’s Most Wanted left the airwaves, and John Walsh has been hearing the call to get back on TV and help catch criminals.
“It just never stopped,” said Walsh on Monday. “Wherever I went, people came up to me and said ‘you are the court of last resort.’” Walsh even mentioned how the directors for both the FBI and U.S. Marshals even asked him when he was going to be back on the air.
Walsh will make his return on Sunday at 9 p.m. with his new CNN series The Hunt With John Walsh. “I’m excited. I’m saddling back up.”
CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker explained that he sought out Walsh soon after he came over to CNN at the beginning of last year. “I’ve known John Walsh for a long time, I’ve always felt strongly that he is a unique person on American TV.”
The new series will be very much like America’s Most Wanted, in that it’s goal is to expose stories of ongoing criminal investigations of fugitives – with a few key differences, one of them being a much-slower pace. The Hunt will also focus on international fugitives – “our dirt bags run to other countries,” says Walsh – partnering with Interpol and other oversees operations.
“The mission is still the same: to get the public to trust me and trust the show to give us a tip,” explained Walsh. “We’re going to slow it down.” He said the debut episode focuses on just one person, with future shows detailing two fugitives at most.
“America’s Most Wanted got very frantic at the end,” continued Walsh, who said the biggest complaints about AMW was that it moved too quickly and didn’t allow the viewers to know too much about the capture or the victims. “Our last couple years were just frantic in trying to get cases on.”
Another major shift is that Walsh won’t executive produce the series by himself, as he has always done in the past, instead enlisted Zero Point Zero, which produces CNN’s Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown.
The Hunt will also have a major digital aspect to its show, especially through Facebook and Twitter, as well as a spot on CNN.com to give tips. “I hope to combine all those assets,” said Walsh. “All of them are really excited about the show.”
The show will use Facebook – which is already involved with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children – to help locate fugitives and missing persons; Walsh said in a few weeks they will announce a partnership that will put amber alerts on the social media platform. “I think Facebook is going to drive a lot of viewers to the show,” said Walsh.
The Hunt will also do something that America’s Most Wanted never did – air repeats, which Walsh and Zucker hope will further aid the capture of these fugitives.
“We are in the process of continuing the evolution of the network,” said Zucker, who along with Walsh will add well-known TV personalities in Mike Rowe and Lisa Ling to the 9 p.m. hour that The Hunt will occupy. “I wanted John to be part of that.”