Across all genres, in front of the camera or behind, these innovators and tastemakers represent the leading lights of the smallscreen world while the sun is up. Here’s what’s on their minds. . .

Drew Carey
The Price Is Right” host
After more than 1,000 episodes at the forefront of daytime’s most-watched series (averaging nearly 5 million viewers), Carey still has predecessor Bob Barker on his mind every time out but feels secure in being captain of the ship. From a lower-class upbringing that gave him an appreciation for the value of the show’s prizes to his experience working in front of auds as a stand-up, Carey says he has been preparing to host “The Price Is Right” his entire life. But, he adds, what has made the most difference since taking the job has been his weight loss. “All of a sudden, I had all this extra energy,” he says. Asked to explain the show’s longevity, Carey apologizes for getting “writerly” as he cites Joseph Campbell and the hero’s journey — but then notes a simpler appeal. “It’s really fun to watch people going bananas,” he says. “It’s like Lolcats — you just can’t take your eyes off it.”
— Jon Weisman

Mary Connelly, Ed Glavin & Andy Lassner
“The Ellen DeGeneres Show” exec producers
Lassner jokes once he was promoted to exec producer, the pop culture phenomenon that is Ellen really took off. “The truth is, we are all here 10 years later because Ellen knew who she was and wanted us to guide her vision,” he says. “We started out mostly as a comedy show but quickly saw the power when we realized people were coming to get through the tough times.” Glavin and Connelly have served as exec producers since the show’s inception. DeGeneres, says Glavin, “was crystal clear that she wanted simple, clean, funny and uplifting with a mix of celebrity and relevance.” Connelly notes that “Ellen doesn’t want to get bored, so we and the audience are never bored.”
Susan Young

Katie Couric
“Katie” host and exec producer
Katie Couric made the leap back to daytime last fall with her eponymous yakker, but the uberjourno isn’t ready to leave her hard news background behind just yet. Katie, one of the stronger entrants in a crowded frosh talkshow space, routinely turns celeb interviews with thesps like Sofia Vergara into opportunities to discuss broader, compelling issues, such as thyroid cancer. “There’s an opportunity for real substance there,” Couric says of her celeb gets. While Couric’s tenure on Today prepped her for the lighter, organic elements of ‘Katie,’ the TV vet is still learning. “I’ve been taught to not talk about myself too much, and that less is more,” she says. “And it was a bit of an adjustment, to feel that I could have opinions and reveal myself in a whole new way.”
— AJ Marechal

Kathleen Finch
HGTV and DIY g.m.
Finch has changed the landscape of all things home-related by creating entertaining programming that’s led HGTV’s daytime ratings to an eight-year high in 2012. The force behind the revamped “House Hunters” franchise, “Property Brothers” and the “Crashers” franchise, Finch has made home-related programming a quiet giant in the reality television market. Finch sharpened her eye for talent and programming while at the Food Network, discovering Paula Deen and Sandra Lee. “Luckily, the subject of ‘home’ provides great fodder to create programming around,” Finch says, “enough that I can keep my No. 1 priority to make HGTV entertaining television. That’s what keeps viewers coming back.”
— Tara Turk

Bill Geddie
“The View” exec producer
Geddie, who received the Daytime Emmys’ lifetime achievement award last year, will be the first to say that the daytime talkshow space is “cluttered” with new entrants and copycat yakkers. How does “The View” creator stay ahead of the curve? “We’re live, we’re under the umbrella of Barbara Walters and we have better people at the table,” Geddie confidently states. The 17th season is shaping up to be one of change at The View, with Joy Behar ankling her co-hosting duties and rumors swirling about the remaining cast members. Nevertheless, the show is still a juggernaut and household name. “What do I really want to do this season?” Geddie asks, reflecting on his 15-plus years on the show. “I want to keep the 100-plus people that work for me employed, and keep the Disney-ABC people happy. … I still have a lot of gas in my tank.”
— AJ Marechal

Craig Gerber
Sofia the First” exec producer
Disney has a long tradition of pretty princesses, but never before has there been one the likes of ‘Sofia,’ a plucky preschool-age villager from a blended family (her single mom marries a king with two children) who literally becomes royalty overnight. “We like to call it a medieval version of ‘Modern Family,’” jokes Gerber regarding the Disney Junior animated series, which is the No. 1 cable TV show among kids 2-5 — with both genders. “Sofia is in a new world, she’s going to a new school and she’s meeting new friends,” says Gerber. “Sofia is the first princess that little girls can relate to because she is a young girl herself.”
— Malina Saval

Sara Gilbert
The Talk exec producer and co-host
Though famous for playing Darlene on the nine-year run of “Roseanne,” Gilbert’s bigger calling card should be multitasking. An early example: She was able to finish studies at Yale and write an episode of “Roseanne” while taping the show. Now, not only is she co-host of CBS’ The Talk, but she’s also an exec producer of broadcast TV’s fastest-growing talkshow, which explores topical issues from the perspective of its five co-hosts. In addition, Gilbert, who made a mark on CBS comedy The Big Bang Theory playing sarcastic feminist scientist Leslie Winkle, is slotted for Eye pilot Bad Teacher — a role she would juggle with The Talk if the comedy goes to series. “Find an actor who has been in this business for over 10 years, and most likely they have become a writer, producer or director as well,” Gilbert says.
— Tara Turk

Lisa Gregorisch-Dempsey
“Extra” senior exec producer
Gregorisch-Dempsey lives by the following: “If it’s obvious, do the opposite.” The exec producer uses Extra to incubate series like “Dr. Drew’s Lifechangers” and “Mario Lopez: Saved by the Baby.” She extended “Extra,” now in its 19th season, into a multiplatform brand online and on the air, including a Spanish version. “We’re the most copied game in the genre,” she says. “Entertainment changed with the Internet. The only way to flourish is being different and unique. We took the show outside and live. We got 5,000 people to surprise JLo with a flash mob. No idea scares me. Not having an idea scares me.”
— Susan Young

Carla Hall & Clinton Kelly
“The Chew” co-hosts
Hall initially made an impression on Bravo’s “Top Chef” and “Top Chef All Stars,” but instead of going the traditional route with a restaurant or cooking show, she wanted to reinvent herself. ABC’s The Chew was not only as a way to do that, says Hall, “it was about teaching people in different ways. It’s five different hosts showing five different ways to do things.” For Kelly, The Chew offered an opportunity to showcase his talents beyond fashion (he’s still co-host of TLC’s What Not to Wear) into food and lifestyle segments. “The Chew is much closer to who I am,” Kelly says. “I don’t spend my free time making people over, like on WNTW. I spend my free time cooking, eating, entertaining and decorating.” The Chew recently went on a streak of gaining viewers for four consecutive weeks, contributing to a nearly 20% year-to-year viewership gain.
— Carole Horst

Steve Harvey
“Steve Harvey” host and exec producer; “Family Feud” host
The multitalented Harvey, who says he uses humor to make his guests and contestants feel comfortable, has high hopes of becoming one of the world’s premier motivational speakers. Steve Harvey has been renewed for a second season in national syndication, and Family Feud continues to thrive, with ratings jumping to nearly 7 million viewers and a household rating of 4.6. But nothing is more important to Harvey than calling it like he sees it. “I have to remember that I have too much exposure not to be honest, sincere and real,” he says, “so I use comedy as my God-given gift — even when I’m giving common-sense advice on my talkshow.”
— Sean Fitz-Gerald

Bill Hemmer
“America’s Newsroom” co-anchor
In 2005, Hemmer had a three-hour dinner with Fox News chief Roger Ailes — and not long after joined Fox News. It was the biggest break of his career for the affable Hemmer, who has built a loyal following at Fox. In the 9-11 a.m. timeslot weekdays, America’s Newsroom leads the way in total viewers among cable news options and frequently has more tuning in from the 25-54 demo than CNN and MSNBC combined. Hemmer says his strength comes from newsgathering experiences outside the studio. “The opportunity to cover the news … as a breaking story from the field” informs his work, he says. “There is no replacement for having actually been there.”
— Josh Chetwynd

Jamie Horowitz
ESPN original programming and production veep
Promoted to his current position in February 2012, Horowitz has overseen changes — and improved ratings — to daylight shows including First Take, which he changed to an all-debate format featuring Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith. “The opinion-based studio shows each have their own personality, their own vision,” Horowitz says, “but they share a common goal, which is we try to do one thing make you smile, one thing to make you smarter and one thing that will surprise you.” Those goals are a “forever pursuit,” he adds, but the challenge is what makes it fun. “The shows work best when we find the right combination of knowledge, perspective and chemistry,” Horowitz says. “You get that right on Tuesday, it doesn’t mean you’re going to have it right on Wednesday.”
— Jon Weisman

Stuart Krasnow
Telepictures Prods. exec veep, creative affairs
Krasnow took the job in October but spent his career preparing for his current post. “I’m working with everyone I’ve ever known and using all the knowledge and experience I’ve gained,” says Krasnow, who started with CNN. “I feel uniquely qualified and challenged.” He “younged down” talk shows with Ricki Lake and Americanized The Weakest Link. Krasnow is charged with creating new programming and discovering ideas and talent for use across all platforms. What he’s looking for is the next big pop culture franchise, “a show that will be on for years, not just holding a place,” he says. “We’re looking at sustainability.”
— Susan Young

Harvey Levin
“TMZ on TV” exec producer
The digital-to-broadcast transition is old news for Levin, who launched “TMZ on TV” two years after the gossip site launched in 2005, before the leap was a trend. The lawyer-turned-media honcho leverages the widely consumed TMZ site, broadcast newsmag, web show TMZ Live and TMZ bus tours to cross-promote the celeb news brand across all areas of entertainment. “There’s an urgency to TMZ.com that you can’t duplicate in broadcast,” Levin says about the TMZ on TV comedic, frank approach. “That’s a fatal mistake that some shows make: Act like things are happening now when everyone knows they’re not.” Not that competition fazes Levin. “Our accuracy record is probably better than anyone in the media right now,” he says. “TMZ is a better news operation in the celeb world than any news operation out there in the country, by far. It’s not even close.”
— AJ Marechal

Mort Marcus & Ira Bernstein
Debmar-Mercury co-prexys
Longtime TV vets Marcus and Bernstein know a thing or two when it comes to hit daytime television. Before Debmar-Mercury, each held key positions in such companies as Rysher Entertainment, Miramax and the Walt Disney Internet Group. One of their current hits, The Wendy Williams Show, ranks No. 3 among women viewers ages 25-54, up 35% in three months alone. In addition, the revamped Family Feud with Steve Harvey has soared 39% since the beginning of the season. With Wendy in the mornings and Feud in the evenings, Bernstein says, “it would be great to find another strip that could play in the afternoons.” Says Marcus: “The biggest issue in daytime is the vertical integration of media companies, since ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox all would like to only buy programming from themselves. Sometimes they buy from a competitor, because they have to, but in the end their goal is to go inhouse.”
— Tara Turk

Janice Marinelli
Disney-ABC Domestic Television prexy
Marinelli, a 28-year vet at Disney since joining the company as a marketing exec, oversaw two major challenges in the past year: the launch of talkshow Katie and the naming of a new partner to Kelly Ripa on what ultimately became Live With Kelly and Michael, as in Strahan. Marinelli and her team scored on both tasks: Katie became the No. 1 new daytime show in the ratings for 25 consecutive weeks, while Strahan filled the large shoes of Regis Philbin to help re-establish Live as the No. 2 talkshow in syndication. Both moves, Marinelli says, depended on respecting the daytime audience. “That’s a very loyal audience,” she notes. “It’s also a big (day part) that doesn’t get as much visibility or promotion as primetime or local newscasts. You have to work extra hard to get those eyeballs.”
— Jon Weisman

Angelica McDaniel
CBS senior daytime veep
With a deft ability to balance daytime’s big three genres — game, talk and drama — McDaniel has effectively injected a dose of synergy across CBS’ slate. Promoted to daytime honcho in February 2012, she’s created crossovers between everything from Let’s Make a Deal and The Bold and the Beautiful to The Talk and The Young and the Restless. She’s also upped the net’s interactivity on the web. “I’m proud of our efforts and progress on social media,” she says. “I’m active on Twitter with fans of the shows, and when we have good interaction,” it helps enhance the product CBS delivers.
— Josh Chetwynd

Jay McGraw
“The Doctors” creator/exec producer
When McGraw talks about where he got his calling to make daytime programming that educates people on health issues, he tells a story about his father. McGraw’s father flew planes, and when McGraw went to get his own pilot’s license, he remembered joining his father for flights. “Having done that with my dad didn’t prepare me to fly that airplane at all, but it just made me accept as fact that people can fly planes.” McGraw’s hit series The Doctors does something similar: It shows average Americans that they can seek help for critical issues in their lives, thereby empowering them. McGraw is now developing CBS Television Distribution’s upcoming conflict talker The Test for this fall.
— Michael Sullivan

Joe Oulvey
Twentieth TV exec ad sales veep
The phrase “ad sales” conjures up images of closed-door meetings with execs and sponsors, each bartering for their own interests, but Oulvey says it doesn’t always begin that way. Take the upfront for Modern Family, which is headed for syndication. Last month, Oulvey threw a party for potential advertisers with the adult cast of the sitcom and co-showrunner Steven Levitan. “Our advertising clients got to interact directly and intimately with all these cast members and really understand what goes into making that a quality show,” says Oulvey, courting execs via star power. Oulvey considers himself lucky as Fox has a broad portfolio of day players across all demos, from The Wendy Williams Show to Family Feud and Dish Nation.
— Michael Sullivan

Mehmet C. Oz
“The Dr. Oz Show” host
After spending eight years at Oprah U., Dr. Oz has come into his own as a host and has taken TV matters into his own hands. Whether the day’s topic is constipation, erectile dysfunction or anything in between, the two-time Daytime Emmy-winner says he’s in the business of change and endeavors to save one viewer at a time. “Most people are scared of what they don’t understand, so they’re scared of their own bodies,” he says. “We try to bring life to that process and lighten their loads by taking those fears away from them.”
— Sean Fitz-Gerald

Allison Page
Food Network and Cooking Channel senior VP, programming
Page oversees the daytime and primetime programming and development teams, which have spiced up its daytime ratings winners with new hits like “The Pioneer” Woman and Trisha’s Southern Kitchen, each No. 2 in their time period. But ratings are only the icing on the cake. The Food Network exec tries to relate to the zeitgeist: With Sandwich King Jeff Mauro (a Next Food Network Star winner), Page notes that they found the “chef dad.” “It’s a good representation of what’s going in the in country,” Page says. “We bring in his family and make that part of the show, since more and more men are doing the cooking.” The net’s devoted fans seem to share in a sense of community fostered onscreen. “In real life, the talent do hang out, and we feel that we are creating this channel together,” she says.
— Carole Horst

Carla Pennington
“Dr. Phil” exec producer
Pennington remembers her nerve-wracking interview with “Dr. Phil” and Oprah Winfrey, but 11 years later, she says she’s still as happy a storyteller as ever. In a word, she says, “focus” is the key to the success and appeal of the daytime powerhouse, which has been renewed through 2017. “Phil knows these people have put their lives on hold,” she notes. “They’re sitting in front of an audience of 200-plus people and are airing all of their dirty laundry, and with tears in their eyes they’re saying, ‘Help me, Dr. Phil’ — you better believe he’s gonna roll up his sleeves to help. That’s his focus, and my focus is making sure their stories are told properly and with integrity.”
— Sean Fitz-Gerald

Kelly Ripa
Live With Kelly and Michael” co-host
Gab queen Ripa — who says she still gets starstuck with celebrity guests — kept the “Live” ship steady amid the long process of determining the show’s new co-host and successor to Regis Philbin. “Live” boasts boasting high ratings among women 18-49, thanks in no small part to how well the former soap star does with audiences (with the approach that they’re “all in this journey together”). Ripa sat down with 59 guest co-hosts before the official selection in September of former football player Michael Strahan, whom she say she adores. “I feel like the luckiest person alive to have Michael by my side,” she says. “ He understands the dynamic of this team. I feel that getting to experience the process of having somebody new on the air, this time, I know what I’m doing. It helped me stay true to myself — almost like an out-of-body experience.”
— Michelle Salemi

Robin Roberts
Good Morning America anchor
The on-air camaraderie that draws viewers to America’s No. 1 morning show can have the same effect on its host. While recuperating from bone marrow transplant surgery, Roberts (who will receive the Arthur Ashe Courage Awards at this year’s ESPYs) sometimes watched a clip of the GMA team singing The Jeffersons theme song. “It made me smile and made me happy, and every single time I’d laugh like I was seeing it for the first time,” she says. Roberts connected to the playful clip the same way viewers have gotten comfortable with the GMA squad that overtook Today in the ratings last year. “People are connecting to how we are with each other,” she says.
— Rob Owen

Janelle Rodriguez
CNN/U.S. programming veep
Promoted to her current position in February 2012, Rodriguez has successfully navigated a busy first year. She oversaw live coverage of a broad variety of stories, including tragedies such as the mass shootings in Newtown, Conn., big political moments including the presidential election and milestones like Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee. Throughout, Rodriguez has applied her background as a filmmaker to maximize the compelling nature of CNN’s coverage. “One of the biggest things I’ve tried to do is bring a lens to the news through a storyteller’s perspective,” she says. “We look at each hour as a narrative arc with a beginning, middle and an end.”
— Josh Chetwynd

Lesli Rotenberg
PBS senior marketing/communications veep and children’s programming g.m.
Rotenberg has helped propel the most trusted network in children’s television to an even loftier status. Over the past year, PBS has had six of the top 10 programs among mothers of young children (including “Curious George,” “Dinosaur Train” and “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood”) and five of the top 10 programs for kids age 2 to 5, while pbskids.org remained the No. 1 kids website. “Our goal is to create content that’s smart, funny, engaging and makes kids want to keep learning,” says Rotenberg. “We’re using all the new technologies to empower kids to ask questions, to try their best even if they fail and to give them the courage to get up and try again. We’re educating today’s kids to face tomorrow’s challenges.”
— Malina Saval

Judge Judy Sheindlin
“Judge Judy” presiding judge
Sheindlin knows exactly what it is about her that’s kept audiences frequenting her daytime court show for nearly two decades. “If you’re not reaching the sensibilities of people, then they’re going to tune you out,” she says. “So evidently the message of responsibility, doing the right thing and ‘don’t be an idiot’ is resonating with a sufficient number of people to keep us around.” Sheindlin and her bailiff, Petri Hawkins-Byrd (who was her bailiff in family court long before the show) have been around since the inception of Judge Judy and have no intentions of leaving, except maybe to skip town for a little while. Sheindlin says if she could make any change, she’d like to try arbitrating similar cases in English-speaking countries overseas. She expects “it’s just the accents that are different, because people are really the same all over the world.”
— Michael Sullivan

Jay Stutler
Disney Television Animation music veep
Stutler is in charge of creating the original musical soundtrack for such top-rated shows as Disney Junior’s “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse” and “Sofia the First,” not to mention Disney Channel’s Emmy Award-winning Phineas and Ferb. “We’re giving kids their first musical experience and want it to be a high quality musical experience,” explains Stutler of Disney’s musical mission. But Stutler’s crowning achievement of late is his work on Jake and the Never Land Pirates, the Peter Pan-inspired series for which he’s helped develop a whole new genre of music. “It’s called ‘pirate rock,’” he explains of the Celtic-sea shanty-punk-metal blended sound. “It’s type of music that’s never been tapped into before, and it gives kids the opportunity to rock out and be immersed in that authentic pirate world.”
— Malina Saval

Heather Tom
“The Bold and the Beautiful” actress
This onscreen and (as of last year) offscreen mother has been in the soap opera business for 23 years, performing on “The Young and the Restless,” One Life to Live and The Bold and the Beautiful. In 2012, Tom became the first actress to complete the trifecta of Daytime Emmys for younger actress (1993 and 1999), supporting actress (2011) and lead actress (2012). Tom is thrilled Bold is making room for her son Zane, who was born in October, to play her onscreen baby. “ I’ve certainly seen how this medium has changed and grown, and I’ve gotten to work with great people,” she says. “It’s a place where glamour happens, and you can be sexy and have crazy things happen to you. I’ll get to spend more time with my son, and he will get to be part of it.”
— Michelle Salemi

Frank Valentini
“General Hospital” exec producer
“General Hospital,” the sole-surviving soap opera on ABC, owes its life to Valentini. He came in last year after the cancellation of “One Life to Live” and resuscitated General with explosions, baby-switching and returns of beloved characters. As General moves toward its 50th anniversary this month, Valentini has been able to find that tricky balance of keeping fans happy and moving the show along. Valentini himself is most excited about the upcoming “Nurse’s Ball” story line. “It hasn’t been done in years, and it’s a signature piece for General Hospital. It is the perfect way to celebrate the show and the citizens of Port Charles. We can honor the history and bring the show into the 21st century.”
— Michelle Salemi