UTA's co-head of TV puts trio of shows on air
Sue Naegle came out of the May upfronts celebrating several hard-fought victories.
The UTA TV department co-head helped lead the agency to 13 new primetime network pickups for the 2007-08 season — a feat in itself.
But three shows of Naegle’s in particular made it to air only after some tough maneuvering: The quirky ABC comedy “Miss/Guided,” the sexy (and sure to be controversial) CBS entry “Swingtown” and the groundbreaking CW entry “Aliens in America.”
All three started off as spec scripts, and slowly made their way through development hell before defying the odds and making it to air. For Naegle, that’s the best part of the job: Finding a writer with a passion project, and turning that dream into an actual show.
“I love meeting someone and having them say, ‘I don’t know if this is a TV show, but this is what I really care about,'” Naegle says. “When someone starts that way, I think to myself, ‘Oh, good — a challenge.’ If they want to tell an authentic story, TV is the best medium to do it. My job is about supporting the writer and getting someone else to support them as well.”
UTA partner Lisa Hallerman calls Naegle “one of the future leaders of our company.”
“She can manage to be very powerful and make her point and be very aggressive, yet also be quite nurturing to her clients and colleagues,” Hallerman says. “She’s a huge advocate for those who work here and her clients.”
A TV junkie, Naegle says she takes advantage of insomnia to catch TV series at all hours of the day and night.
“I watched tons of TV growing up” she says. “I wanted to be somehow associated with it and put together shows as great as those shows.”
Of course, that means Naegle is never truly off-duty: The next hot writer or concept could be anywhere.
“That’s what makes the job difficult,” she says. “How can I ever sleep? The next person who calls me can pitch the greatest thing I’ve ever heard. Keeping up with that is exciting but hard.”
Vocation: “At the end of the day, script pimp.”
Recent breakthrough: “Learning to make a school lunch in 20 seconds.”
Role models: “The fierce, fabulous women of UTA.”
Career mantra: “Ya gotta believe!”
What’s next: “I pray it’s the return of the sitcom.”