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Next wave showrunners

Sarnoff, Plageman among group taking the top job

Matthew Carnahan | Alexandra Cunningham | Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis | Emily Kapnek | Nahnatchka Khan and David Hemingson | Liz Meriwether, David Finkel and Brett Baer | Greg Plageman | Theresa Rebeck and David Marshall | Elizabeth Sarnoff

Matthew Carnahan, “House of Lies” (Showtime)
Courteney Cox received more recognition for “Dirt” than Carnahan, who exec produced the FX series. The new half-hour Showtime laffer with Don Cheadle and Kristen Bell, however, could put him on the map if the series takes off. Showtime topper David Nevins has plenty of faith in this skein, as well as the pay cabler’s other upcoming freshman show, “Homeland.”

Alexandra Cunningham, “Prime Suspect” (NBC)
Giving a U.K. staple an American spin can come with a huge set of complications and challenges, but NBC clearly believes Cunningham is up to the task. Counting on star Maria Bello to provide the star power, Cunningham will use her “Desperate Housewives” experience in making sure those who have seen the Brit version, and those blissfully unaware, are wanting to tune in.

Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis, “Once Upon a Time” (ABC)
Horowitz and Kitsis are counting on their “Lost” momentum to carry over to “Time,” which is smack dab in their sci-fi/fantasy wheelhouse. The pair observed how master showrunners Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse balanced writing and production issues and will be asked to pull off the same feat for this well-regarded ABC drama.

Emily Kapnek, “Suburgatory” (ABC)
Kapnek stays in the ‘burbs, moving from fictional Pawnee, Ind., on “Parks and Recreation” to the land of shopping malls and nail salons of “Suburgatory.” She has produced and written for a handful of shows over the past decade — “Hung” and “Aliens in America” — that have had their share of fans, but now might be the time she breaks out on her own.

Nahnatchka Khan and David Hemingson, “Apartment 23” (ABC)
Khan recently toiled in the toon world on “American Dad,” and now moves over to the Alphabet’s Krysten Ritter sitcom. Partnered with co-showrunner and former “Traffic Light” exec producer Hemingson, the skein looks to have breakout potential if they can find the right balance between the dastardly Ritter and good-natured farm girl Dreama Walker.

Liz Meriwether, David Finkel and Brett Baer, “New Girl” (Fox)
When it comes to showrunning, is three better than one? Fox believes so, and is hoping that strategy makes “New Girl” — one of the most enjoyable pilots of fall — a primetime staple for years. Meriwether, who wrote the original script, will appreciate the experience that Finkel and Baer bring. They were co-exec producers on “United States of Tara” and “30 Rock.”

Greg Plageman, “Person of Interest” (CBS)
A writer-producer for “Law & Order” and “Cold Case,” Plageman should find the same procedural comfort zone at CBS’ “Person of Interest.” The Eye is relying on Plageman and the show’s creator, Nolan, as well as stars Michael Emerson and Jim Caviezel, to fend off tough 9 p.m. Thursday drama competition — veterans “Grey’s Anatomy” at ABC and “Bones” on Fox.

Theresa Rebeck and David Marshall Grant, “Smash” (NBC)
Though not arriving until midseason, the Peacock is excited about bringing Broadway to broadcast with “Smash,” which gestated at Showtime when current NBC topper Robert Greenblatt was running the pay cabler. Rebeck has more producing experience, while Grant is a former actor who can help his partner find the beating heart of the series.

Elizabeth Sarnoff, “Alcatraz” (Fox)
Sarnoff was part of the Lindelof and Cuse troupe on “Lost,” and also worked with the meticulous David Milch on “Deadwood.” That’s a pedigree that should serve Sarnoff well on “Alcatraz,” which partakes in “Lost”-like timeshifting. If that isn’t comforting enough, Jorge Garcia is in the cast — just in case she’s looking for reassurance from old friends.

SHOWRUNNERS IMPACT REPORT 2011:
Delegate delicately | Primetime drivers | Up Next

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