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CNN's Chris Cuomo starting HLN series on gritty topics

Last Updated Oct 17, 2017 at 3:20 pm EST

FILE - In this Nov. 10, 2015 file photo, Chris Cuomo arrives at the 9th Annual Stand Up For Heroes in New York. Cuomo is hearkening back to his newsmagazine days with a series for the sister network HLN that initially touches on hot-button issues like the opioid crisis, illegal immigration and the sex trade. (Photo by Michael Zorn/Invision/AP, File)

NEW YORK, N.Y. – CNN’s Chris Cuomo is hearkening back to his newsmagazine days with a series for the sister network HLN that initially touches on hot-button issues like the opioid crisis, illegal immigration and the sex trade.

The documentary series, “Inside with Chris Cuomo,” debuts Friday at 9 p.m. and doesn’t affect his day job as co-host of CNN’s “New Day” morning show.

“This is the kind of work we all want to do most often, which is a deep dive into a subject that matters,” said Cuomo, who worked on ABC’s “20/20” before moving to CNN in 2013.

HLN, the former Headline News network, is revamping to have a greater emphasis on crime and investigative programming. On Friday’s first episode, “SOS New Hampshire,” Cuomo looks at the drug problem in the state, focusing on addicts and people trying to save them. While the heroin epidemic has become a popular topic for news investigations, it’s clear from the scope and growth of the problem that more focus is needed, Cuomo said.

Another episode of the series profiles Dr. Corrine Stern, the medical examiner in the border town of Laredo, Texas, who often sees the tragic aftermath of people who try to illegally enter the U.S. from Mexico.

“What it reveals about the reality of illegal immigration in this country was a little bit of a surprise — the lethality of it, the horror of it, the desperation of what has to motivate you to take this on,” Cuomo said. “When you see how far they have to go and under what conditions, you would never do it.”

Cuomo’s series will air five consecutive Friday nights. He also looks at child custody battles involving a polygamous sect on the border of Arizona and Utah and the illegal sex trade in Los Angeles. Cuomo, whose brother is New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, also talks about the growing population of women in prison from New York’s only maximum security prison for women.

Production has already started for a second season.

Cuomo said the storytelling appeals to him and that he hopes it feeds a hunger for strong journalism.

“As a journalist, you’re getting back to basics of what your raw function is in a non-entertainment environment, where you’re not just focused on ‘what will people really like,'” he said. “You have a different mandate, and that’s where we are right now.”

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This story has been corrected to reflect that Cuomo was on ABC’s “20/20,” not “Primetime Live.”