×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Jordan Kerner’s TV Roots Run Deep

Producer's background as a network exec continues to steer his career trajectory

Jordan Kerner’s career as a television executive started long before he reached the network suites at ABC and Universal Television for NBC; it started in his Stanford dorm room.

That’s where Kerner wrote his senior thesis, a 30-page treatment for a series that follows a military family in 1961 as they live through such political episodes as the Cuban missile crisis, the Kennedy assassination and the Civil rights movement. Twelve years later, as ABC’s VP of dramatic development, Kerner teamed up with Jon Avnet and Steve Tisch to develop what would become the 1984 one-season-wonder, “Call to Glory.”

Kerner had cut his teeth as a negotiator, buyer and seller at the Big Three, working with mentors from across the industry. Formerly president at the Eye, Bob Daly helped Kerner get his start in business affairs at CBS. Later came Charles Engel at Universal and Quinn Martin at QM Productions, from whom Kerner inherited his competitive streak.

“I became hooked with the notion of caring about what the entertainment said, caring about the level of execution, and caring about being No. 1,” he says.

SEE MORE: Jordan Kerner: Producer as Politico

But beyond the wheeling and dealing, Kerner always harbored that deep-seated passion for content creation. It’s what compelled him to develop “Call to Glory,” just as it would compel him to turn down an offer to become the Alphabet’s head of primetime programming.

“If I had taken that job, I would have been on track to be the next entertainment president – it was just that progression,” he says. “But what I really wanted was to learn how to make the product.”

He’d overseen some of the Peacock’s biggest shows of the era, like “Quincy, M.E.” and “The Rockford Files,” but developing his own passion project was just the spark Kerner needed to quit climbing the studio rungs and start his next chapter: producing.

SEE MORE: Jordan Kerner’s Deep Dive into Academia

And despite diving into the role with such early feature credits as “Less Than Zero,” “Heat Wave” and “Fried Green Tomatoes,” Kerner never forgot the sensibilities that steered him in the TV trenches.

“TV gave me the desire to follow characters deeper,” he says. “It’s about burrowing in, telling more stories and following characters who just tickle me.”

Another common thread in Kerner’s credits: pics adapted from TV. “Inspector Gadget,” “George of the Jungle” and “The Smurfs” each had their glory days on the smallscreen before hitting theaters and an “ALF” vehicle is coming down the pike.

SEE MORE: Jordan Kerner’s Everyday Heroes

So why does this blockbuster producer keep circling back to TV development?

“It’s the golden era of television,” Kerner says. “Pound for pound, TV is so far superior to features today. From my point of view, the amount of compelling images, performances and writing dwarfs theatricals in the last five years.”

More Biz

  • Plume of black smoke rising from

    Lawsuit Expected Next Week in Response to Universal Music Fire

    A Los Angeles law firm representing several Universal Music recording artists affected by the 2008 fire that destroyed a huge number of master recordings is expected to file a lawsuit as early as next week. King told Variety that he expects to sue for negligence and other torts. He declined to identify his clients, saying [...]

  • Nicholas Sparks

    Nicholas Sparks Responds as LGBT Discrimination Claim Resurfaces

    Nicholas Sparks, the prolific author of romance novels, is facing renewed allegations that he discriminated against gay students at his Christian school in North Carolina. The allegations were first leveled by Saul Benjamin, the former headmaster of the Epiphany School of Global Studies, in a wrongful termination suit he filed in 2014. Benjamin’s suit alleged [...]

  • Tyler the Creator and DJ Khaled

    Inside the DJ Khaled-Tyler, the Creator Chart Battle

    The controversy surrounding the recent chart battle between DJ Khaled and Tyler the Creator — in which a bundle promoting Khaled’s album was disqualified from adding to its sales tally for the May 24 Billboard 200 album chart, allowing the No. 1 spot to go to Tyler’s “Igor” — has been a first-class problem for [...]

  • Cuba Gooding Jr. Diversity

    Cuba Gooding Jr. Charged with Misdemeanor Forcible Touching

    Actor Cuba Gooding, Jr., has been charged with a misdemeanor count of forcible touching following an incident at a nightclub, the New York Police Department said Thursday. Gooding turned himself in to NYPD detectives on Thursday, surrounded by a throng of media. Later in the day, he was arraigned in front of Judge Herb Moses. [...]

  • Contract Placeholder Business WGA ATA Agent

    CAA Challenges Writers Guild of America's Legal Standing in Packaging Fee Lawsuit

    CAA has challenged the Writers Guild of America’s legal standing for bringing forth the lawsuit against Hollywood’s four largest talent agencies over the issue of packaging fees. CAA’s latest legal response to the suit filed by the WGA in Los Angeles Superior Court in April asserts that the guild does not have the right to [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content