Digital Hollywood Spring - Television Showrunners: War Stories From the Writers Room
Recently, I attended the Hollywood Digital Spring conference and had the opportunity to sit in on several of the panels and conduct various interviews. An extremely entertaining and informative panel I attended was called Television Showrunners: War stories from the writers room.
Moderating the event was Michael Oates Palmer, the Supervising Producer for “Rubicon” (AMC) and “Cupid” (ABC), as well as a Writer for the “The West Wing,” (NBC). He introduced the panel and they were:
Hart Hanson, Showrunner/Creator, “Bones” (FOX)
Liz Tigelaar, Showrunner/Creator, "Life Unexpected" (The CW)
Nicole Yorkin, Co-Executive Producer, "The Killing" (AMC), Showrunner "The Riches" (FX)
Rob Long, Comedy Showrunner/Creator, "KCRW's Martini Shot", "Showrunner "Cheers" (NBC)
Jonathan E. Steinberg, Showrunner/Creator, "Human Target" (FOX), Co-Creator, "Jericho" (CBS)
Starting the event, Palmer discussed what a showrunner is, for those who don't know. A showrunner is defined by all the things they do. They're the head-writer. They're involved in casting. They oversee post production. They're the public face. "They're the ring master, the elephant tamer, and the people who clean the cages," he said. An important question he asked was why show-running was so hard:
-If you do it right, everybody is a little annoyed," said Hanson. He described it as "doing math and poetry at the same time."
-"You never know what it's really like," said Yorkin. "You set the tone. Everything is on your shoulders."
-"It's not normal for writers to interact with that many people," said Long. "The studios don't know to do it, even if they think they do."
-"I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of things to do," said Tigelaar. "Just assume you have to do everything and when someone does do something, consider it a bonus."
-"This job is the equivalent of 5 or 6 jobs, and anyone can keep you busy," said Steinberg. "I found it's important to learn how to hide your failures."Continued on the next page