×
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

  • Walt Disney Archives Founder Dave Smith

    Walt Disney Archives Founder Dave Smith Dies at 78

    Walt Disney Archives founder Dave Smith, the historian who spent 40 years cataloging and preserving the company’s legacy of entertainment and innovation, died Friday in Burbank, Calif. He was 78. Smith served as Disney’s chief archivist from 1970 to 2010. He was named a Disney Legend in 2007 and served as a consultant to the [...]

  • Colin Kaepernick Kneel

    Colin Kaepernick, Eric Reid Reach Settlement With NFL

    Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid, two football players who alleged the National Football League colluded to oust them from the game after they started kneeling in protest of racial inequality during the playing of the national anthem, have reached a settlement in the matter, according to a statement from the sports organization and lawyers representing [...]

  • R. Kelly

    R. Kelly Could Be in ‘Big Trouble’ Over Alleged New Sex Tape, Attorney Says

    Strong allegations of sexual misconduct have followed R. Kelly for 25 years, but the singer has always managed to slip free. Yet reports that a videotape of him sexually assaulting an underage girl, combined with the outcry surrounding the Lifetime documentary “Surviving R. Kelly,” means that public sentiment, at the very least, is definitely not [...]

  • Christian Bale as Dick Cheney in

    New Media Residuals and Feature Films Contribute to Spike in Writers' Pay

    The outlook for members of the Writers Guild of America has brightened — even amid pervasive uncertainty in the entertainment industry. According to the most recent report to WGA West members, earnings surged 2.8% to $1.41 billion in 2017, thanks mostly to gains in feature films and new-media residuals. Total covered earnings for WGA West [...]

  • Joe Dante Gremlins

    Hollywood Execs Seek Licensing Deals at the New York Toy Fair

    On Feb. 16 more than 30,000 studio executives, buyers and toy company reps will gather in Manhattan for the annual Toy Fair New York, all vying for market share and trying to snag the latest hot trend in a fast-changing industry. Those working the film side of the business will focus much of their attention [...]

  • Lady Gaga Bradley Cooper A Star

    Universal Music Group Fuels 11.3% Rise in Vivendi's 2018 Revenues

    Vivendi’s revenues were up 11.3% to €13.93 billion ($15.7 billion) in 2018, powered by Universal Music Group, which delivered such hits as the “A Star Is Born” soundtrack and Drake’s new album. UMG’s revenues climbed by 10% to €6 billion ($6.8 billion) compared to 2017. On top of the “A Star Is Born” soundtrack, the [...]

  • The Blacklist 100th Episode

    'The Blacklist' EP Sues for Wrongful Termination

    A former executive producer of the NBC show “The Blacklist” has filed suit against Sony, alleging he was fired after being wrongfully blamed for a workplace scuffle. Michael Watkins is a veteran TV director and cinematographer. He was an executive producer for several seasons of “The Blacklist,” the NBC crime show starring James Spader. According [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content