Comic-Con: 'Showrunners' Panel Dishes on Disastrous

On the heels of “Showrunners’” distribution announcement with Submarine Deluxe (theatrical) and Gravitas Ventures (VOD), the documentary that looks at behind-the-scenes of TV shows screened for the Comic-Con crowd at the Horton Grand Theater on Saturday.

“You’re the first audience ever to see ‘Showrunners,’” said director Des Doyle, “which is equally amazing and terrifying.”

The film – which includes interviews (and in-depth supplements included in the companion book “Showrunners,” written by Tara Bennett) with J.J. Abrams, Joss Whedon, Kurt Sutter, Damon Lindelof, Janet Tamaro and many more – looks inside the life and work of a showrunner, making no bones about dimming down the glamour. Images of completely covered white boards, donuts and cupcakes and half-eaten sandwiches, talks of upset fans and gripes about needy actors abound.

“Actors are there because they didn’t get enough attention as children,” only half jokes “The Big Bang Theory” showrunner Bill Prady, who joined Doyle, co-producer Ryan Patrick McGuffey and Mike Royce (“Men of a Certain Age,” “Enlisted”) on stage for the Q&A. “Just know there’s nothing you can do to solve that. And also, don’t date them.”

Prady candidly told the audience about an anonymous actor and the arc a doomed show can take: “On the first day we were having lunch at the star’s home, and by the last day, one of my staff was pissing on that same star’s office carpet.”

Added Royce, just as facetiously, (or not): “It’s all very hard, it’s all terrible.”

He did admit that he has yet to deal with a truly terrible experience. “I would gladly shit all over that,” Royce said, utilizing one of the many f- and s-bombs dropped throughout the panel by he and Prady. “I just haven’t had it. I know they’re out there though.”

The film begins almost four years ago on an interview with “House of Lies” showrunner Matthew Carnahan. Nervous about having the show picked up, he likens showrunning to “painting and doing your taxes at the same time. Very left brain and right brain at the same time.”

The feature length film, which will release on October 31, follows the rise (like “House of Lies”) and fall (like “Men of Certain Age”) of TV shows and their creators, the politics of making TV and the passion and dedication it takes to do the job.

“It’s like a controlled plane crash every week,” describes “Person of Interest” showrunner Jonathan Nolan.

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