Rovner: Inspires writers to bring their A-game to TV

Women's Impact Report 2011: Susan Rovner

Susan Rovner receives a lot of credit for helping shape Warner Bros.’ burgeoning TV slate, but she says her greatest reward arrives when her shows’ writers feel fully satisfied.

“It’s really about pulling out the best from the writers, getting to know them and finding out what their strengths are,” says Rovner, WBTV’s exec VP of development.

Writers, especially those who are developing their first show, often sit with Rovner with distinct ideas on how their pilot should look. It’s her job to take those ideas and form them into a show that will both be appealing to a large number of viewers and that can be sold to a network.

She also needs to make sure the overarching themes — legal drama, family comedy, etc. — in the WBTV lineup don’t overlap. It’s important, she reiterates, to have a wide swath of programs that aren’t repetitive.

“It’s about being broad,” she explains. “We have to have one of everything.”

Yet, it’s that large WBTV slate that often keeps Rovner up at night.

“I don’t sleep,” Rovner confesses. “The volume is so big, yet at the same time I feel lucky that I make a good living making TV. That keeps me sane.”

For this year’s fall slate, Rovner says “there’s something special” about new CBS laffer “Two Broke Girls,” and she’s high on ABC’s “Suburgatory.”

Rovner is keenly aware that while Warner Bros. sells many shows to its affiliated network, CW, it makes its bread and butter selling series to a vast array of nets — both on broadcast and cable. And with CBS, ABC and NBC having their own inhouse studios, the WB fare must be that much superior for those nets to go outside their corporate family.

“We have to be better because no one does us any favors,” says Rovner, who has helped shepherd current hits geared toward young women, including “The Vampire Diaries,” “Gossip Girl” and “The Closer.” “It’s definitely a challenge but we make it a positive.”

Title: Exec VP, development, Warner Bros. Television
Role model: Peter Roth, president of WBTV. “Everyday he teaches me how to do my job better”
Career mantra: “Find the best talent in the business and help them succeed”
Leisure pursuits: “Online shopping. There’s nothing better than coming home from a hard day at work and seeing a present at my door.”
Philanthropic passion: “Raising money for my child’s school: Sherman Oaks Center for Enriched Studies.”