Let’s Talk Some More About the Lack of Showrunners – and Why It’s Come to Be

Last week we ran an article from Deadline about the networks’ complaints that they can’t find enough experienced showrunners to ramrod their series, along with a comment by our Beloved Leader, Larry Brody. LB isn’t the only one to point out that it’s the networks’ hiring practices that have caused the situation. Another old guy brilliant and experienced former showrunner, our hero, Ken Levine agrees:

showrunners36by Ken Levine

A recent article on Deadline Hollywood bemoaned the fact that as networks were putting their fall schedules together they were discovering that there is a real shortage of qualified showrunners to attach to these shows. Well, duh! And whose fault is that?

There are plenty of excellent showrunners out there. But networks don’t hire them to write pilots anymore. In their quest to find hot new young voices they push to the curb experienced writers who can not only write and produce a pilot but the series as well should it get ordered.

Showrunners who are currently in demand (a) are gravitating towards cable where they have more creative license, and (b) would prefer to do their own stuff not someone else’s. Can you blame them?

Oh, and (c), if you do showrun a young writer’s project and it becomes successful, you’re often squeezed out.  How many forced marriages do you know that are successful?

The best television shows are the ones that have the most distinctivevoices. MAD MEN would not be as good if Matt Weiner had to take a backseat to the former showrunner of CSI: MIAMI. It just makes sense that when you bring on a hired-gun he’s going to have different sensibilities than the creator, and if you’re buying the creator’s vision, you’re distorting it.

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