Late Night Execs and Content Producers Among Variety’s New Leaders in TV

Every year, Variety seeks to identify the next generation of leaders in the entertainment business, looking for representatives in the creative community, film, TV, music and digital. This year’s group has a heavy New York focus: We selected executives from forward thinking companies such as Spotify, Group Nine and Endeavor Audio, as well as writers and producers in late night comedy, plus agents and managers who help put the deals together that keep the entertainment business humming.

Baker joined ABC’s “Nightline” as a production assistant in 2005, moving up through the ranks before being named the news program’s youngest executive producer in 2017, producing all of Barbara Walters’ “Nightline” specials along the way. Last year he exec-produced the doc special “For Our Lives: Parkland,” as well as ABC’s first Disney Pride speaker series. “After Parkland,” which he also produced, premiered at Tribeca in April. “I love being creative and I love telling the stories. We’re [‘Nightline’] covering all the big important issues and we’re having fun too. We’re always learning,” he says.

Gertler, who joined Stephen Colbert’s “Late Show” in 2015 after developing her producing chops at “Good Morning America,” embraces flexibility as a leader. “When you work at a place like ‘The Late Show,’ there are always going to be obvious daily challenges,” says Gertler, who was elevated to her current role in 2017. “It’s a competitive space, and there is a lot of pressure to make sure we are consistently booking the most perfect and timely pieces to make up the nightly ‘Late Show’ puzzle. It’s incredibly important for me and my team to never get complacent.”

Pre-school teacher-turned-standup Gondelman co-created the parody Twitter account @SeinfeldToday, which led to a writing gig at HBO’s “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver,” and five years, two Peabodys and a clutch of Emmys later, he moved over to Showtime’s “Desus & Mero.” “It wasn’t like I was clawing at the walls to get out of ‘Last Week Tonight,’” Gondelman says. “I was presented with an opportunity to go from one dream job to a different kind of dream job.” As a supervising producer, Gondelman gets to have a “curatorial hand” in the making of the show and a leadership position. “They were the exact responsibilities and opportunities I was looking for.”

New York-based Meyers negotiates and executes distribution and device deals for Starz, as well as overseeing its digital distribution partner marketing, which basically means her job
is to make sure Starz is available and easily accessible on as many platforms as possible. A graduate of the U. of Miami School of Law, Meyers joined Starz as senior counsel in 2015 following a stint as associate counsel in programming at Time Warner Cable. “I love watching TV; I’m a cord-cutter and I’m a millennial,” she says. “So, in my role, I’m sort of solving my own problems as a user.”

Named EP of “CBS This Morning” in April, Miller joined the program in 2014 after stints at CNN and MTV. She’s worked on big breaking stories including Gayle King’s interviews with R. Kelly, and cites the Parkland shooting as pivotal. “[That] was an opportunity for us at CBS News to think about the way we cover big events,” Miller says. “We ended up doing something we’d never done before, which was opening up a bureau and committing permanent on-the-ground resources to covering not only the tragedy at Stoneman Douglas High School, but also the movements that arose out of it.”

It’s not hard to figure out why Scott is so sought after. Before helming Mindy Kaling’s production company, Scott served as Hulu’s director of content development, having joined the streamer in 2012 as one of its first development executives. With a focus on international co-productions and drama, Scott helped execute “The Handmaid’s Tale,” which won Hulu’s first ever primetime Emmy for a series in 2017. She attributes her success to keeping company with the right people. “Leadership is about listening in all directions,” she says. “Surround yourself with dedicated peers who each have something unique to offer, and then try to keep up.”

Shin has more than 30 projects in development at music
manager and label owner Scooter Braun’s company, including the “Untitled Lil Dicky Series” (FX), “Untitled K-Pop Movie” (Fox 2000) and the “Taste of Power” movie adaptation starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw. That number looks to grow with SB’s first-look deal with Amazon, swigned in July. “I view us as a shop that really knows how to move the needle culturally, particularly as it relates to youth audiences,” he says. A Chicago native who spent his formative years as violin and piano soloist, he was a development exec at TriStar prior to joining SB Projects in 2016.

Early on, Sweiss learned a valuable lesson: never be precious about her writing. It’s a lesson she’s kept in mind while toiling at “The Late Show With James Corden” and now as head writer on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.” “Late night is a grind,” she says. “You have to produce so much content that you very quickly learn you can’t be shy about showing someone your script or jokes, or being hurt when they don’t like that script or those jokes.” As the second woman to head “The Tonight Show’s” 20-plus writer staff, Sweiss leads by knowing “that everyone prefers being managed in different ways, and it’s important to make everyone feel valued.”

Variety’s New Leaders 2019: CreativesSocial Impact | Music | TV | Digital | Film | Agents/Managers/Lawyers

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