WHAT IS A SHOWRUNNER?!
There are as many definitions for the term “Showrunner”. The Writers Guild of America West even has a course in Showrunning, so in that regard you could say it has mainly to do with writing.
From my perspective it is more of a producer role helping to select the writer, auteur director and all other elements that go into creating a successful series.
If you have a show idea, please let me know. Keep in mind these goals which all networks have as basic criteria. Yes, there are exceptions to these rules, but they are exceptions:
1. It must be a series; they are not looking for specials.
2. It must have potential to rate well internationally. All networks have international divisions or partnerships.
3. It helps if other shows like it, or in its space, have rated well.
4. “Host” shows are discouraged because host fees climb with good ratings. But if it is a hosted show, they must be likable. This may sound like a ‘duh’ statement but I what I mean by it is that beyond knowledgeable the host must have a likability factor. And honestly, you will never know if they have “it” until you get them on camera and test them.
5. This leads me to Sizzle Reels. Producers do not want to read about a concept they want to see it. And since they are busy they do not want to see an entire episode, but a short sizzle reel about three-minutes in length.
As I mentioned there are exceptions. “Pawn Stars” set out to create their show very intentionally with casting to find the right city and the right characters. They produced an entire episode and when History saw it they bought it on the spot.
That is an example of perfect execution of showrunning in my opinion. "Pawn Stars" is a cross between “Antique Roadshow” where people may discover they have a million-dollar item that was in their attic, “LA Ink” and “COPS”. That’s not original btw it was a description in TV Guide and a good one.
5. "Co-Viewing" is always a plus. If you can draw in both genders that is very attractive to the networks.
6. They want a “wow” factor.
7. And High Stakes are important.
These are not all of the things to think about but some key issues to keep in mind when thinking of a network series that can be pitched and find placement.
So, with that massive disclaimer, if you have something you think will be a hit please let me know, I would love to represent you!
Below are some shows I helped to create, pitch, and place with success:
“Jurassic Fight Club”
Executive producer: A History Channel® 12 hour television series comprised of stunning computer animation that brings the deadliest showdowns in planetary history to life. Dinosaurs face Dinosaurs in grim duals to the death!
“Lost Book of Nostradamus”
Executive producer: Proved to be a ratings success for The History Channel® The two-hour special on the famed seer was the
top show on all of cable for the
evening with 3.5 million total viewers.
Executive producer: An explosive two-hour sequel that picks up where ‘The Lost Book of Nostradamus’ left off. It premiered on Sunday, January 4th 2009 at 9:00 pm ET/PT to an even larger audience! This blue chip special looks for parallels between the nightmarish daily headlines and the 2012 prophecies from Nostradamus and others.
“Easter Island Eclipse”
Executive producer: A one-hour special for National Geographic TV which aired in July of 2010.
Awards and Acknowledgments
Ken has received numerous awards including a Tele, a Cleo, Addys, and a National Council of Churches Film Award. And he is a member of the Producer's Guild of America
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