×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Mark Burnett: Army Experience Shaped TV Producer’s Leadership Style

Burnett: 'When you’re in the Army, nobody wants to hear your complaints about how you can’t make the mission work.'

As a young man in the British Army, Mark Burnett learned a lot about leadership by training with a career U.S. Army officer from Texas named William “Buck” Kernan.

Observing Kernan as he prepared Burnett’s parachute regiment for battle in the Falkland Islands taught the future TV titan what it takes to lead a band of brothers and sisters — whether armed with guns or cameras.

“I learned from him that you always, always make sure you explain the mission to the lower ranks,” Burnett says. “That’s different than the British Army way, where the higher ranks would talk to each other and the message would trickle down. I always talk to everyone on my shows, and I always take questions. Buck took questions from anyone.”

Gen. Kernan, who went on to be named Supreme Allied Commander in Europe in 2000, kept in touch with Burnett over the years. The commander, now retired, is suitably impressed with his one-time charge.

Says Burnett: “More than anyone, he taught me how to do more with less, how to deal with deadlines, how to be mission-focused. When you’re in the Army, nobody wants to hear your complaints about how you can’t make the mission work. It’s the same in television.”

Related Stories

More Biz

  • WGA Agency Packaging Fight Placeholder Writer

    Gersh Agency Stirs Ire After Canceling Network Meeting for Former Client

    In a sign of hostility in the war between the WGA and Hollywood’s largest talent agencies, Gersh Agency has come under fire from TV and film writers for canceling a network meeting that it had arranged for a now-former client. Writer Jorge Reyes disclosed the incident in a series of tweets on Monday. Reyes asserted [...]

  • Streaming Placeholder

    TikTok Owner Preparing Streaming Service to Rival Spotify (Report)

    ByteDance, the Beijing-based owner of the TikTok video app, is developing a paid streaming music service aimed at the same emerging markets that Spotify and Apple are seeking to explore, according to a report in Bloomberg. The app could be introduced as early as autumn, according to the report, which adds that the company has [...]

  • Stranger Things

    Coca-Cola Will Revive New Coke in Alliance With Netflix, 'Stranger Things'

    A rush of TV watchers to streaming video has prompted Coca-Cola to test an interesting pour. Coca-Cola will bring New Coke back to market for a brief time, all part of a partnership with Netflix, which has featured Coke in its cult-favorite series “Stranger Things.” The third season of the series, set in 1985, will [...]

  • Doug Davis and Jodie ShihadehVariety Power

    Jodie Shihadeh Named Partner at The Davis Firm

    Jodie Shihadeh has been named Partner at The Davis Firm, PLLC. She joined the firm in 2011 and rose from associate to Managing Attorney and now partner. She graduated from Boston College and received her law degree from Fordham University School of Law in 2011. While still in law school she interned in the Business [...]

  • Peak TV Saturation TV Placeholder

    Nickelodeon Alum Keith Dawkins Sets Kidvid Partnership With Believe Entertainment Group

    Former Nickelodeon executive Keith Dawkins has partnered with Believe Entertainment Group to develop children’s programming. Dawkins will partner with Believe under his newly formed Rock Hill Media Ventures, which aims to advise companies in media, entertainment and sports on working with diverse and emerging talent. Dawkins previously spent 17 years at Viacom, most of which [...]

  • CBS Studios Exterior

    CBS Credit Union Manager Pleads Guilty to $40 Million Fraud

    The manager of a credit union for CBS employees pleaded guilty in Los Angeles federal court on Monday to a $40 million embezzlement scheme. Edward Rostohar, 62, was arrested in March after the scheme began to unravel. According to prosecutors, he admitted to stealing money from the bank for the last 20 years. Rostohar is [...]

  • Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon - The

    CAA's Packaging Fee Becomes Flashpoint in 'Walking Dead' Litigation

    UPDATED with new statement and response filing The issue that is at the heart of the WGA’s present standoff with talent agencies has flared up as a source of tension in the litigation between AMC Networks and Frank Darabont and CAA over profit participation on “The Walking Dead.” Attorneys for Darabont and CAA called AMC’s [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content