×

Remote Controlled: Ron Howard and Brian Grazer on Making Hit TV Shows, What’s Next for NatGeo’s ‘Genius’

Welcome to “Remote Controlled,” a podcast from Variety featuring the best and brightest in television, both in front and behind the camera.

On this week’s episode, Imagine Entertainment’s Brian Grazer and Ron Howard discussed their latest TV projects — how they come up with their ideas, what inspires them, and why they’re enjoying the boom in television.

In the first half of the podcast, mega-producer Grazer — who’s behind multiple TV projects, including “Empire,” “Shots Fired,” “24: Legacy,” and “Genius” — discussed the genesis behind all of these ideas.

“I just loved the show,” says Grazer of the decision to reboot “24.” “It was not only a well-told story that had urgency and a new style that was 24 hours in real-time, but it was an empowerment vehicle. A way that we, as Americans, could feel that someone was creating justice. Oddly enough, because of its prescience, those things occurred in many different ways.”

As for limited series “Shots Fired,” which debuted recently on Fox, “Even though it does involve violence and it does have a lot of unpredictability and propulsion, it’s reflecting what goes on in parts of our country,” Grazer said. “If you take responsibility, and you do a show like this, it becomes a cautionary tale. It’s a way for us to actually see it, experience it, and also decide we’re going to take the choice of greater humanity.”

Grazer discussed what he looks for when he’s deciding which projects he greenlights. “I like to tell stories which intersect with or reflect what’s going on in our culture,” said Grazer. “To me, it becomes an equation that I’m trying to prove, like a hypothesis.”

“If it’s character-driven, I immediately want to do it for television,” he said. “If it’s story-driven, which means there’s a story and it has an end point, normally we’ll make that into a movie.” But he admits he chooses TV more often than movies. “It feels more democratized,” he says. “It feels more personal. I can put more of myself into the fabric of a television show.”

In the second half of the podcast, Grazer’s partner at Imagine, Howard, weighed on one of their other high-priority projects, NatGeo’s new scripted series “Genius.”

Howard said television provided the perfect platform to tell the story of Albert Einstein, what he calls a fascinating character study opportunity. “This is the opportunity to really dissect the man,” he said. “To do what Walter Isaacson’s book does, to give context. To understand not only the triumphs, but also the struggles and barriers.”

The series shows a side of Einstein we really haven’t seen. “One of the surprises was what a ladies’ man he was throughout his life,” said Howard, describing him as more of a “bohemian author than a rigid, disciplined scientist.”

You can listen to this week’s episode here:

New episodes of Remote Controlled are available every Friday.

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • YouTube logo

    BBC Studios to Explore 'The Edge of Science' for YouTube Originals

    The BBC’s production division, BBC Studios, has won its first YouTube Originals commission, “The Edge of Science.” Starring presenter and science enthusiast Rick Edwards and YouTuber Colin Furze, “The Edge of Science” will carry out a range of stunts and experiments to explore if it’s possible to levitate. The presenters will meet the scientists behind [...]

  • Kirsten Dunst'On Becoming a God in

    Kirsten Dunst Talks 'Little Women,' 'Interview With a Vampire' Reboots

    Kirsten Dunst was just 11 years old when she skyrocketed into stardom as Claudia in “Interview with a Vampire,” but now Dunst says her age is the only thing keeping her from reprising the role in a hypothetical reboot. “I mean I’m too old, right?,” she told Variety at the premiere of “On Becoming a God [...]

  • A Planned Parenthood clinic is seen,

    Variety to Forgo Annual Emmy Party for Donation to Planned Parenthood

    Variety has decided to make a donation to Planned Parenthood in lieu of hosting this year’s annual Emmy Awards nominees party in partnership with Women In Film. The decision comes in response to Planned Parenthood’s Aug. 19 announcement that it will drop funding over the current administration’s “unethical” rule blocking the organization from discussing its [...]

  • Rebel Wilson Isn't It Romantic

    TV News Roundup: Rebel Wilson to Host First Australian Amazon Original Series

    In today’s TV news roundup, the NFL and Pluto TV announce the launch of a new channel, and Rebel Wilson is named as the host of the first Amazon original series to come out of Australia.  CASTING Rebel Wilson is set to host and executive produce the Australian Amazon original series “LOL: Last One Laughing,” the [...]

  • Moffatt Family with the Himba tribe

    U.K.’s Channel 4 Takes British Family to Africa in New Reality Show

    U.K. broadcaster Channel 4 has greenlit new factual entertainment format “The British Tribe Next Door,” which will see a British family spend four weeks with a remote tribe in Namibia. The twist in this format is that, unlike most adventurers, the participants don’t say goodbye to the comforts of their home — instead, they take them with [...]

  • Christian Serratos as Rosita Espinosa - The

    'Walking Dead' Star Christian Serratos in Talks for Selena Series at Netflix

    Christian Serratos is in negotiations to star in the upcoming Netflix series based on the life of Tejano music star Selena Quintanilla, Variety has confirmed with sources. The series was announced back in December and is described as a coming of age story following Selena (Serratos) as her dreams come true and all the heart-wrenching [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content