Daytime TV difference-makers

Daytime TV Impact Honorees

Janet Annino
Exec producer, “Rachael Ray
If there’s living proof that Rachael Ray can help just about anyone squeeze more out of life, it’s Annino. In 2006, after editing a sales tape as a favor, the former “Entertainment Tonight” producer moved her entire family to New York to head up production on the new talkshow. “Can I tell you how much we were not in a place to relocate?” says Annino, who was in the middle of construction on her house when she made the move. “That just gives you an indication of how strongly I felt. She’s the real deal, and for me, a talent like her doesn’t come along that often in a career.” As the show embraces a “back to basics” theme in its sixth season, Annino knows she’s right where she belongs. “I’m having a great time here. I have a great partner in Rachael, and I feel like this show is my home.”

Brad Bell
Exec producer and head writer, “The Bold and the Beautiful
You won’t get Bell to wallow in the hard times for soaps; he’s too busy keeping “The Bold and the Beautiful” on television for the unforeseeable future. “We have to be anything but what people typically think of as soap opera,” says Bell, who recently celebrated the show’s 25th anniversary. That has meant more location shoots to up the production value, adding elements of reality, comedy and action, and bringing in a younger cast. “You can only tell Ridge-Brooke-Taylor love triangle stories for so long before you think, ‘My God, won’t they learn from their mistakes at some point?’?” admits Bell. “If we continue with business as usual, we’re not going to be on the air too much longer, so we’re really trying to redefine the whole genre. Every day is an experiment.”

Jim Bell
Exec producer, “Today”
Bell took the reins in 2005 and has never stopped driving hard. He has overseen coverage ranging from Hurricane Katrina to the six-hour live broadcast of Prince William’s nuptials. Bell also guided the newscast through major anchor shifts, including Katie Couric’s departure and the expansion into a fourth hour with Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb. “The most important thing has been understanding what each hour is about — hard news right out of the chute, unwinding to health, finance, pop culture and a well-deserved glass of wine at 10,” Bell says. “Each has its own personality, feeling and life narrative.”

Mindy Borman
Exec producer, “The Dr. Oz Show”
How do you make irritable bowel syndrome and inflammation sexy? That’s the daily challenge for Borman and others behind “The Dr. Oz Show.” “It comes down to the sell,” she says. “What is the emotional hook in that story? How do we create urgency around that topic?” The prescription includes smart writing, initiatives such as the Transformation Nation wellness program (with more than 1.2 million people signed up) and the personality that is Dr. Mehmet Oz. “You’ve got to be doing something that no one else is doing, so check that box,” Borman says. “It’s the way we disseminate information, the way we entertain people. We don’t just sit down and give a lecture on what you need to know.”

Tom Cibrowski
Senior exec producer, “Good Morning America”
It’s been a good year for Cibrowski. “GMA” has closed the ratings gap on the frontrunner, NBC’s “Today,” and he was recently named “GMA” senior exec producer. The secret to success: enthusiasm. Cibrowski, who has been with the program since 2002, gushes about his work, saying, “there is no better job in TV,” and he encourages the on-air talent, fronted by Robin Roberts and George Stephanopoulos, to express a similar level of passion. “Viewers know there’s a TelePrompTer, but they also want to see people in their natural moments, getting along and having fun,” he says. “We try to recognize that and allow our team to fly.”

Ellen DeGeneres
Host and exec producer “The Ellen DeGeneres Show
The multi-talented DeGeneres rocked the post-9/11 Emmys in 2001, the same year that saw the quick cancellation of her CBS sitcom “The Ellen Show.” In 2003, she joined other celebs fronting talkshows. DeGeneres quickly rose above the crowd with an approach reflecting her own relaxed, compassionate sensibilities. Her popular show has earned more than 30 Daytime Emmys. “There were a few people who doubted I could make a come back,” says DeGeneres. “My goal was to get back to doing what I had worked so hard to do: Make people laugh. I accomplished that goal.”

“The Fresh Beat Band”
Scott Kraft and Nadine van der Velde, co-creators and exec producers
In a day and age when school budgets are being slashed and performing arts programs going the way of the dodo, the Emmy-winning husband-and-wife team of Kraft and van der Velde is keeping music and dance alive on Nick Jr.’s live-action series, starring Jon Beavers, Yvette Gonzalez-Nacer, Thomas Hobson and Tara Perry. The show has amassed such a wide following among the preschool set that its stars recently completed a sold-out U.S concert tour. “If you look at statistics, kids who are exposed to music at a younger age do better academically,” says van der Velde. “It’s a show that actually gets kids off the couch,” adds Kraft. “Seeing kids make that personal connection with the characters on the show has been truly exciting.”

Harry Friedman
Exec producer, “Jeopardy” and “Wheel of Fortune”
Friedman wants “Jeopardy” and “Wheel of Fortune” always within easy reach of fans, which is why he championed development of both for mobile devices, along with versions for Facebook, PlayStation and Nintendo’s Wii. The added experiences don’t come at the expense of the original TV versions, which tied for gameshow honors at the Daytime Emmys last year and soon will be celebrating 30th anniversaries (“Wheel” this fall, “Jeopardy” in 2013). “All of these things keep us out front, but it’s still about playing the game,” Friedman says. “How can we make the game more fun, more engaging, more relevant?”

Michael Gelman
Exec producer, “Live with Kelly”
In his 25 years with the “Live!” franchise, Gelman has deftly overseen many changes. This year, following the departure of Regis Philbin, he proved once again he can do it seamlessly. Teaming Kelly Ripa with a litany of guest co-hosts has only increased the show’s numbers in the key women 25-54 demo. Gelman believes that’s a reflection of the conceptual strength of the show. “It’s not just about Regis,” he says. “It shows how much people love the format, and it is also a testament to how popular Kelly is. She has upped her game and made her co-hosts look good.”

Mark Itkin and Jon Rosen
Board members, WME
In a word, Rosen says “finesse” is key to an agent’s success. It’s finesse that helped Rosen and his team wriggle Lara Spencer out of her CBS contract to join ABC’s “Good Morning America,” helping to tighten the ratings gap between that ayem show and “Today.” It’s finesse that aided Itkin in convincing Fox that Bravo’s Bethenny Frankel has the “populist daytime appeal” necessary to survive in that space. And when finesse is not enough, Itkin advises, “Zig when everyone else is zagging, and try to do something a little different.” WME will have 11 first-run syndication packages on the air when the 2012-13 season begins.

Holly Jacobs
Exec veep, reality and syndicated programming, Sony Pictures Television
With “The Dr. Oz Show,” Jacobs shepherded a weekday talker that connects with audiences tangibly, turning many of the products mentioned on the show into bestsellers. A Queen Latifah talker skedded for 2013 will offer a new opportunity for daytime success. In terms of cutting through the programming clutter, Jacobs likens it to her days as an exec at ABC Daytime, where she worked on “The View”: “It’s a tremendous privilege to have an opportunity to develop and craft programming that gets a national stage and impacts culture, hopefully in a really positive or transformational way.”

Nancy Kanter
Senior veep of original programming and g.m., Disney Junior Worldwide
At the helm of Disney Junior, the multiplatform brand for the discerning under-8 set, Kanter dug into Disney’s storied past to conceive such popular smallscreen fare as “Doc McStuffins” and the Peter Pan-inspired “Jake and the Never Land Pirates.” Both play on Disney Junior’s just-launched 24-hour basic cable and satellite channel, the first of its kind. “In launching Disney Junior, it was really important to embrace that essence of Disney,” Kanter says. “Disney has this incredible connection with families and kids that goes back 80 years, and that’s pretty unique. To have that legacy of characters as you’re creating this whole new world of educational entertainment has a huge, multigenerational impact. It’s about having a connection to a story that we all treasure and need in our life.”

Rob LaDuca
Exec producer, “Jake and the Never Land Pirates” and “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.”
Emmy-winner LaDuca has brought to life some of the most beloved children’s television currently on air, straddling Disney’s old world with the new in a way that appeals to pint-sized fans and nostalgic adult audiences. “?’Mickey’ and ‘Jake’ have been my two biggest joys,” says LaDuca. “The testing process especially, seeing how kids react to the original ideas that we’ve drawn up, was really rewarding. … When we showed the first color footage — we hadn’t done any post-production — on ‘Jake,’ one of the kids in the room said to us, ‘I want to live in this show.’ To me, that’s a big thumbs up.”

Phil McGraw
Host, “Dr. Phil”
McGraw considers “Dr. Phil” less a daytime talk show than a public service. “What we have to do is commit to continuing to deliver common-sense, usable information to people’s homes every day for free,” he says. With 40% of Americans without health insurance, and few insurance providers including psychiatric care in their plans, this means consulting with an advisory board of medical professionals that helps McGraw loop in relevant new studies and treatment advice. A decade and a half since he first appeared on “Oprah,” he’s still a thought leader in the daytime space.

Hilary Estey McLoughlin
Prexy, Telepictures
In 2006, McLoughlin became president of Telepictures, bringing her own concept of great daytime programs. She admits being obsessed with TV as a child growing up in Queens, N.Y., racing home for lunch to watch gameshows and tuning in with her Grandma Birdie to watch “The Mike Douglas Show.” “I always wanted to bring that great emotional connection and sense of fun I got from the shows I watched,” McLoughlin says. Syndication is particularly challenging in today’s market, but “the right talent at the right time can unquestionably still work in daytime.”

Greg Meidel
Prexy, Twentieth TV
Meidel is a syndication expert who has long been a player in the daytime TV space. Before coming to Twentieth TV, he was at CBS where he oversaw firstrun programming in syndication for such staples as “Dr. Phil” and “Judge Judy.” When identifying potential daytime winners, Meidel believes finding the right talent is the lynchpin. “You have to have a personality that is relatable to women (so) that they can watch every day and can see this person become their friend,” he says. To that end, he’s relying on Ricki Lake, who has dealt with such relatable issues as weight and divorce, to front Twentieth TV’s daytime talkshow beginning in September.

John Nogawski
Prexy, CBS Television Distribution
For Nogawski, losing Oprah Winfrey after 25 years to her OWN network could have been cause for concern, but the programming exec saw no reason to cry over spilled milk. “It opened up a wide landscape of opportunity for new development, new types of shows and new talent that maybe were unwilling to enter into that fray before,” he says. This new frontier has also given his current stable of talent, consisting of “Judge Judy,” “Dr. Phil” and “Rachael Ray,” among others, an opportunity to shine like never before. Nogawski’s goal is to launch two shows next year. Just don’t ask him who his dream daytime show host is — if he told you, he’d have to kill you. “I’m talking to a few of those people right now,” he says. “What really makes me excited is they’re willing to talk to us.”

Angela Santomero
Chief Creative Officer, Out of the Blue Enterprises
As the co-creator, exec producer and head writer for Nick Jr.’s landmark series “Blue’s Clues,” Santomero integrated education, entertainment and active participation in a way that forever changed the landscape of children’s TV. Santomero’s “Super Why!” (which launched in 2007 on PBS) has fielded numerous awards, including a prestigious Ready to Learn Grant from the Corp. for Pubic Broadcasting and the U.S. Department of Education. Up next: “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood,” the much-anticipated animated series that has “Mister Rogers Neighborhood” as its inspiration. “I’m extremely proud of the way we’ve created an interactive TV experience and given kids a skill set that they can practice,” says Santomero. “We’re surrounding children with literacy, and that to me, is one of the most important things that television can do.”

Judith Sheindlin
Presiding judge, “Judge Judy”
After 16 years in her televised courtroom, the last thing Judy Sheindlin feels she needs to do is shake things up. “Sometimes the cases work, sometimes they don’t. But for us to try to do gimmick — it’s not what I do,” says Sheindlin. After 20 years as a New York Family Court judge, Sheindlin embarked on a second career as a TV show headliner, where her expertise, sass and sense of humor continuously translate into No. 1 ratings. It’s a position she intends to keep for years to come, and she anticipates the audience will stick around as well. “If you buy a good pair of shoes, they last a long time,” she states in her signature no-nonsense manner. “And if you make an interesting product you have a market for it.”

Bob Tuschman
General manager and senior programming and production veep, Food Network and Cooking Channel
Daytime programming gets special attention at the Food Network because, next to every CNN and ESPN, the Food Network plays nonstop at every gym in America. “Our programming is all very visual,” says Tuschman, so even with the sound off, “the hosts are very lively and colorful, and we also film the food in a very loving, luscious, artistic way.” The content is aimed at everyday home cooks and not gymgoers per se, but there’s an implicit connection, Tuschman says: “When you’re working out, you’re thinking about what your reward is at the end of that hour-long treadmill. It’s awfully nice to look at a nice, juicy burger waiting for you on the screen.”

Barbara Walters
Exec producer, co-creator and co-host, “The View”
Along with being a rock-solid on-air presence on “The View,” Walters exec produces and came up with its groundbreaking format 15 years ago: a cross-section of women sitting around discussing the hot topics of the day as if they were at home chatting with friends. In that time, the program has earned a Daytime Emmy for talkshow and garnered 11 other nominations in the category. Walters credits the chemistry between “The View” co-hosts for much of the success. “Different women, different ages, different backgrounds,” she says. “It worked, and we’ve had a lot of laughs along the way.”

John Weiser
Prexy, U.S. distribution, Sony Pictures Television
“The Dr. Oz Show” makes headlines, such as it did in September with reports on arsenic levels in apple juice, and that’s why Weiser promotes it as a perfect lead-in to local newscasts. “Dr. Oz” preemed in 2009 in fewer than 20 markets as a news lead-in, but now it’s scheduled that way at about 150 stations, growing audience along the way. In the February sweeps, the show scored a 3.0 household rating, 20% higher than last year. “People want to take better care of themselves and take more control of their own health and their own issues,” Weiser says. “Dr. Oz is the expert in the space of giving that type of information to viewers.”

Wendy Williams
Host, “The Wendy Williams Show”
Williams’ Debmar-Mercury-syndicated daytime series, renewed through 2014, has a grip on an urban 18-49 niche advertisers love. The key to her audience appeal: “It’s important for the host to have this connection, that they’re accessible,” says Lonnie Burstein, programming exec for producer Debmar-Mercury, “So you’re talking to your girlfriend and not being talked down to.” And Burstein is optimistic for Williams’ continued success. “Through all my research, since the dawn of the talkshow era (with Oprah Winfrey) … I can’t find a talkshow, a daytime talkshow, that went five years (but) didn’t go 10.”

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