×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Listen: Producer Christina Wayne on Peak TV’s Tough Economics for Indie Producers

The Peak TV bubble would seem to have been a bonanza for independent producers. But the sheer volume of TV content in production in recent years has made the traditional job of assembling and shepherding a television show that much more complicated in many instances.

In today’s edition of Variety‘s “Strictly Business” podcast, Assembly Entertainment CEO Christina Wayne speaks candidly about the challenges indie producers face in getting projects on the air even in a boom market.

The former AMC development executive who championed “Mad Men” and “Breaking Bad,” Wayne has been in the trenches as a producer for a decade. At present her projects include a drama series based on the “Mercury 13” female astronauts project from the early 1960s, with Jessica Chastain producing, and a YouTube comedy pilot “It’s a Man’s World,” penned by Theresa Rebeck. Wayne is also coming off a two-season run for Showtime’s “I’m Dying Up Here,” stemming from her previous tenure as head of Canada’s Cineflix Studios.

Listen to this week’s podcast below:

“There is such a huge demand for content one would assume that it would make my life as a producer easier but in fact it’s made it more difficult,” Wayne says. “TV is such an incredible medium now. It’s being produced at such a high level. I often find myself waiting to take out a show to the buyers and then you have Guillermo del Toro sitting in the waiting room, and you have George Clooney there. You have every top-level person trying to bring out their passion project. Unless you package your show to the nth degree, it does not sell.”

The development process can also wind on for years as the most fertile cable and streaming outlets sift through dozens and dozens of options. The high level of employment for creatives and crew members makes it that much trickier, and costlier, to recruit top talent to projects.

“It’s so hard to say ‘I have a pilot shooting in three months from now’ and to find somebody who can actually do it in the time frame you’re looking at,” Wayne says. “You can’t say ‘I want you to do this for $5. You have to entice people to fit in in their schedule because they have so many options.”

For producers, the compensation for all the work put in to assembling a show doesn’t kick in until it’s actually in production or sometimes only when it’s on the air. Until a project goes before the cameras, “I’m just another unemployed producer,” Wayne quips.

Wayne also discusses the “myth” of the backend windfall even on successful series, and she details the inspiration for her subscription online educational venture TelevisionSchool.com.

Strictly Business is Variety‘s weekly podcast featuring conversations with industry leaders about the business of entertainment. Listen to the podcast below for the full interview, or check out previous “Strictly Business” episodes featuring comedian/actor/producer Kevin Hart, CBS’ David Nevins, HBO’s Richard Plepler, 10 By 10’s Tyra Banks, AMC Networks’ Josh Sapan, FX Networks’ John Landgraf, Spotify’s Dawn Ostroff, Snap’s Nick Bell and others. A new episode debuts each Tuesday and can be downloaded on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Stitcher, and SoundCloud.

More TV

  • Jennifer Lopez

    Jennifer Lopez 'Absolutely' Wants to Direct Film and Television

    Jennifer Lopez epitomizes the phrase “she’s done it all” — but there’s still more that the superstar would like to do. Lopez recently directed her first music video, “Limitless,” the track featured on her new rom-com “Second Act,” and it seems the multi-hyphenate has caught the directing bug. “Absolutely, absolutely,” Lopez responded when asked by [...]

  • Kaya Scodelario

    Kaya Scodelario Joins Netflix Ice Skating Drama 'Spinning Out'

    Kaya Scodelario has signed on for the lead role in the upcoming Netflix drama “Spinning Out,” Variety has learned. Scodelario takes over the role that was previously held by Emma Roberts, who bowed out in October. She stars as Kat Baker, an up-and-coming, high-level single skater who’s about to turn in her skates after a disastrous [...]

  • Kevin Hill

    Dwayne Johnson, Dany Garcia's Seven Bucks Productions Names Kevin Hill Head of TV and Digital Content

    Seven Bucks Productions, the production company co-founded by Dwayne Johnson and Dany Garcia, has named Kevin Hill the head of television and digital development. In this role, Hill will identify, develop and produce new scripted and unscripted projects for Seven Bucks Productions and Seven Bucks Digital Studios. His background includes a six-and-a-half year stint at WME working [...]

  • Cardi B iHeart Radio Music Awards

    iHeartRadio Music Awards Move to Fox

    iHeartMedia and Fox Broadcasting Company today announced the return of the iHeartRadio Music Awards in 2019. The show will air live on Thursday, March 14 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Fox from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, and will also stream online and broadcast live on iHeartMedia radio stations nationwide. Performers will be announced in [...]

  • Best TV Shows of 2018

    The Top 20 TV Episodes of 2018

    This year provided TV fans with one of the most promising pilots in years (“Barry”) and an all-time-great series finale (that of “The Americans”), but there was plenty in between, too. The following are 20 of Variety’s critics’ favorite episodes to have aired all year, across genres. Of note: while episodes of “Atlanta,” “Barry,” “BoJack [...]

  • Jennifer Garner J.J. Abrams

    Jennifer Garner, J.J. Abrams Reunite for Limited Series at Apple

    Apple has given a straight-to-series order to a limited series starring Jennifer Garner and executive produced by JJ Abrams, Variety has learned. “My Glory Was I Had Such Friends,” based on the 2017 memoir of the same name by Amy Silverstein, follows a group of women who supported Silverstein as she waited for a second life-saving [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content