Questions to ponder at Variety panel

TV Summit

PETER BLACKER, Exec VP of digital media and emerging business Telemundo

Q: Spanish-language programming looks to be an burgeoning field. Can we expect changes in the next few years from broadcast and cable networks?

A: “Yes, as the worlds of multicultural and multiplatform continue to merge, we are seeing fantastic opportunities for our business. U.S. Hispanics have consistently overindexed in mobile and social and these are critical ingredients for the development of social TV. Our studios and talent have completely embraced the new formats of storytelling that social TV creates.”

CYNTHIA CIDRE, Exec producer, “Dallas”

Q: What is the most difficult part of taking an iconic series such as “Dallas” and giving it a modern spin?

A: “Making sure we honored the mythologies established in the series. There were 357 episodes shot and we wanted to be absolutely accurate to the history of the characters, but we also wanted to bring the show into the 21st century. We were very lucky to get Larry Hagman, Patrick Duffy and Linda Gray to come back. They gave us the foundation. Then we designed a new structure that would create new conflicts for our young Ewings, which will hopefully have the legs to carry us for another 357 episodes.”

ALEX GANSA, Exec producer, “Homeland”

Q: Do the great reviews and strong ratings for the first season of “Homeland” create additional pressure for season two?

A: “We’re incredibly fortunate that the show got such a strong response. The best pressure you can have is an audience so smart they push you to make the boldest story choices possible. You might chew your fingernails off in the process, but it’s worth it.”

EMILY KAPNEK, Exec producer, “Suburgatory”

Q: What was your biggest fear in shifting from writing the pilot for “Suburgatory” to handling showrunning duties?

A: “I think it’s really important, particularly during a show’s infancy, that the person who created the series actually writes for the series. It helps establish tone and provides a creative blueprint for the other writers that just rewriting doesn’t. You need to put as much of your creative DNA as possible in the first season, so that it takes root. Then once everyone is fluent in the language, you can start growing it and expanding it. But if, tonally, too much is up for grabs during the early stages, I think the show suffers and can lose its voice.”

JEFF WACHTEL, Co-president, USA Network

Q: When your network has performed so well for so long, is it scary to try new things in order not to be stagnant?

A: “Any time you do something new it’s scary, but if you don’t take risks, you can’t win. Being the No. 1 cable network wasn’t a strategy, it was the result of a successful strategy. And any great strategy evolves over time.”

Variety’s TV Summit
Variety’s TV Summit 2012

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