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Fall TV Survey: 19 Network Chiefs Predict Their Hits and Reveal Rival Shows They’d Steal

As if there already wasn’t enough TV, many key cable and streaming services are plotting even more volume over the next year. The goal, of course, is to remain competitive as rivals bulk up and more streaming services prepare to launch in an already crowded programming landscape.

FX Networks chairman John Landgraf, who warned the industry about the dangers of “peak TV” long before anyone else, told reporters gathered at the summer 2019 session of the Television Critics Assn. press tour that were 335 scripted series on TV through June this year, up 5% from last year. That means broadcast, cable and streaming services are on track to air at least 520 shows this year, which would be a new record.

But even as they add more programming to compete with Netflix, executives at the broadcast and cable networks are taking pains to explain why they’re not Netflix — specifically, that they are in the business of content curation.

“Curation” was perhaps the buzzword of this summer’s press tour, as executives like Landgraf and HBO programming boss Casey Bloys touted a strategy of trying to balance more output while holding on to their brand positioning in the TV landscape.

“There’s a lot of really good stuff that just gets swamped by the volume,” Landgraf said. “We’re trying to signal to the audience, ‘We can help you cut down the morass of an infinite number of programs and find stuff that’s really worth your time.'”

At HBO, Bloys said the channel has upped its scripted programming output by around 50% in 2019. “That’s a big leap,” he told reporters at the tour. “The big challenge for me and for our team was to make sure that by doing that much more we weren’t just filling hours to fill hours.”

Showtime entertainment presidents Jana Winograde and Gary Levine said they, too, are expanding their original content — this year by 30%, with plans to grow even more in 2020.

“We compete by being the boutique option to the big box stores,” Winograde said. “We take a bespoke approach at every phase, from dealmaking to development, to marketing and promotion.”

Even retail giant Amazon referenced “curation” as one way it stands out from its streaming rivals. “We’re not in the volume business,” Amazon Studios head Jennifer Salke said. “We’re in the curated business of bringing individual shows, show by show to our global diverse audience that they will love and they will come to count on.”

Netflix didn’t show up to this summer’s TCA gathering, yet it was on everyone’s lips. ABC Entertainment president Karey Burke had a few zingers prepared, noting that streamers “tout shows as hits one day and cancel them the next, usually around Season 3… Most shows on competing platforms these days, sometimes they get a billboard on Sunset, and sometimes they disappear into the sunset.”

Starz COO Jeffrey Hirsch also expressed frustration at the very notion that you’ve got to build up volume to survive in the Netflix age. “I think Netflix has done a phenomenal job of convincing everybody in this room and everybody on Wall Street that unless you spend $13 billion dollars you can’t compete and you should take your ball and go home,” he said.

With the fall TV season just around the corner, Variety asked top TV execs to take our network survey, sharing their picks on which new show might surprise, what their recent guilty pleasure was and what show they’d like to steal from other networks, among other questions. Here’s the latest insight into what TV’s top executives are thinking.

ABC entertainment president Karey BurkeABC's TCA Summer Press Tour, Arrivals, Los Angeles, USA - 05 Aug 2019
CREDIT: AFF-USA/Shutterstock

Karey Burke, ABC entertainment president

What will be your network’s next sleeper hit?
That’s hard! It’s like choosing between my children. For fall, I’d say “Stumptown.” Cobie Smulders is a revelation in this world.
Name one of your recent TV guilty pleasures.
“The Bachelorette”
What show would you love to steal from a rival?
“The Unicorn” (CBS)
What’s the question you’re asked the most?
“Is Jimmy Kimmel really as nice in person as he seems?”
What do you tell strangers you do for a living?
I tell them I work in television.
What’s the show that got away?
“Riverdale” [which debuted on the CW when she ran programming at rival network Freeform].

Kelly Kahl and Gary LevineTune In! Variety's TV Summit, Inside, Los Angeles, USA - 13 Jun 2018
CREDIT: Michael Buckner/Variety/Shutters

Kelly Kahl, CBS entertainment president

What will be your network’s next sleeper hit?
“Bob (Hearts) Abishola.” I think people are going to find that it’s a lot more than a simple romantic comedy, and I think people are going to be surprised at the heart and authenticity that it brings with it, in addition to being funny.
Name one of your recent TV guilty pleasures.
“Cobra Kai” Season 2. I certainly enjoyed the character arcs.
What show would you love to steal from a rival?
“Grey’s Anatomy” (ABC). I have the utmost respect for a show that can stay on top of its game for as long as that show has and continue to attract an audience.
What’s the question you’re asked the most?
“What’s going on with Viacom?” would be one, of which I don’t have an answer. They’re not asking me. I think one question is, “Will there be another monster hit on network TV?” And I sure hope the answer is “yes.”
What do you tell strangers you do for a living?
I usually say something as a simple as “I work in television.” The conversation progresses and I start to tell them about all the cool things I get to do. The best part of the job is you get to touch all parts of the process, from development to putting the show on the air to marketing.
What’s the show that got away?
The “L.A. Confidential” pilot from the last development season. That was an awesome pilot that will haunt both Thom (Sherman) and myself for awhile.

Charlie CollierFX Networks Animation Domination 'Bless the Harts' and 'Duncanville' TV shows panel, TCA Summer Press Tour, Los Angeles, USA - 07 Aug 2019
CREDIT: Frank Micelotta/Fox/Picturegroup

Charlie Collier, Fox entertainment CEO

What will be your network’s next sleeper hit?
The Super Bowl.
Name one of your recent TV guilty pleasures.
Re-watching “The Simpsons,” “Bob’s Burgers” and “Family Guy” episodes from their first season.
What show would you love to steal from a rival?
One hundred percent ownership of a pre-syndication “Friends.”
What do you tell strangers you do for a living?
It depends who asks. If I like them, “I support wonderfully creative people.” If they’re selling something: “I’m a shepherd.”
What’s the show that got away?
“Black Mirror.” A show that could have been cultural currency — every week — with a linear channel curating it.

George Cheeks, Co-Chairman at NBC Entertainment76th Annual Golden Globe Awards, Executive Arrivals, Los Angeles, USA - 06 Jan 2019
CREDIT: Michael Buckner/Variety/Shutters

George Cheeks, NBC entertainment co-chairman

What will be your network’s next sleeper hit?
“Council of Dads.”
Name one of your recent TV guilty pleasures.
In the summer it’s always “Big Brother.”
What show would you love to steal from a rival?
“Survivor” (CBS). That format never gets old.
What’s the question you’re asked the most?
How do you assess the success of a show in a fragmented audience environment?
What do you tell strangers you do for a living?
“I work in TV.”
What’s the show that got away
Less than one year into our tenure, nothing yet for me but please ask me next year.

Mark Pedowitz, President, The CW NetworkThe CW TCA Summer Press Tour at The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, USA - 02 Aug 2017
CREDIT: Eric Charbonneau/Shutterstock

Mark Pedowitz, the CW president

What will be your network’s next sleeper hit?
“Nancy Drew.” We’re taking a title that people think has disappeared in some shape or form and I think we’ll do as well with that as we did with “Riverdale” in contemporizing it.
Name one of your recent TV guilty pleasures.
“Schitt’s Creek.” It’s funny, it’s silly and it has lots of heart.
What show would you love to steal from a rival?
It’s an outdated question. There are too many places and too many shows that I haven’t gotten around to see.
What’s the question you’re asked the most?
“What does the new digital strategy mean?” It means we’re in further control of our destiny and our in-season rights, and now we have to learn how to bring viewers who might have watched it on Netflix to come to the CW.
What do you tell strangers you do for a living?
I get to have a job in an industry I love, so it’s become a remarkable, passionate hobby. And they look at me like I’m out of my mind.
What’s the show that got away?
For the CW, it’s probably “Containment.” At ABC, it was the short run of “Eli Stone” and “October Road.”

FX Networks CEO John Landgraf poses in the press room with the Diversity Award, which he accepted on behalf of FX Networks, at the 71st annual DGA Awards at the Ray Dolby Ballroom, in Los Angeles71st Annual DGA Awards - Press Room, Los Angeles, USA - 02 Feb 2019
CREDIT: Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP/Shutt

John Landgraf, FX Networks chairman

What will be your network’s next sleeper hit?
I think we have a bunch of really extraordinary stuff coming up. “Devs” is extraordinary, “Breeders” is great, the untitled Little Dicky show is really freakin’ funny. “A Teacher,” a little thing we announced that no one is paying attention to; Hannah Fidell is really talented. I’m feeling pretty confident about the hand that we’re standing on right now.
Name one of your recent TV guilty pleasures.
I don’t have guilty pleasures. I don’t have time to watch guilty pleasures. I love “Fleabag.” I thought “Chernobyl” was really good.
What show would you love to steal from a rival?
“Fleabag” (Amazon)
What’s the question you’re asked the most?
People are bewildered these days — how do you even decide how to make a television show, or what television show to make when there are so many. I will say, I think it is harder than it used to be. When the brands that were making television had clearer lanes, even HBO, Showtime and FX wouldn’t be bidding on the same projects because we felt we had different brands. Now everybody’s brands overlap, and that inclines you to look even more deeply at excellence and quality. A unitary brand that’s focused on quality and curation can’t afford to make anything that’s not great.
What do you tell strangers you do for a living?
I tell them I make television shows, and they roll their eyes. Nobody needs more television shows these days. But people still think television is pretty cool. When I’m talking to adults under 50, they think FX is pretty cool. They know who we are.
What’s the show that got away?
“Terriers”

Kevin ReillyVariety Studio, Presented by Inscape & iSpot TV, Day 2, Cannes, France - 19 Jun 2019
CREDIT: John Salangsang/Variety/Shutters

Kevin Reilly, HBO Max chief content officer; TBS/TNT/TruTV president

What will be your network’s next sleeper hit?
“All Elite Wrestling (AEW)” is going to be a sleeper. It’s very counter-intuitive to launch a new league at the height of the WWE. But I have a lot of reasons why it makes sense where the opportunity is. We’re not taking down the WWE but I think this is going to be surprising.
Name one of your recent TV guilty pleasures.
“Fleabag” is about as good as it gets.
What show would you love to steal from a rival?
If she made more and it was stealable, “Fleabag”
What’s the question you’re asked the most?
“What’s it going to cost?” For the last year it was, “so how’s it going?” Now it’s a lot of curiosity about the product and what it’s going to be, how does it work.

Casey Bloys'Deadwood' film premiere, Arrivals, Cinerama Dome, Los Angeles, USA - 14 May 2019
CREDIT: Rob Latour/Shutterstock

Casey Bloys, HBO programming president

What will be your network’s next sleeper hit?
Without calling out any favorites, I’ll say I think “The Righteous Gemstones” will be the broadest show Danny McBride has done.
Name one of your recent TV guilty pleasures.
My kids and I are really into “Shark Tank.” We love it. My kids found it and I’m embarrassed it’s been on the air for 10 years and I didn’t know anything about it. But now when we sit down to eat dinner in front of the TV we watch that, “Chopped” and “Queer Eye.”
What show would you love to steal from a rival?
“What We Do in the Shadows” (FX). That would have been a nice addition to our comedy lineup. It’s unexpected and funny and weird and well done. It’s very charming.
What’s the question you’re asked the most?
A lot of questions about the Emmy competition, which I think is more trumped up than in reality. And the “Game of Thrones” prequel, or when “Succession” is coming back.
What do you tell strangers you do for a living?
I say I work in television, and if they press I say I develop shows. I try to avoid just going right out there and saying I’m head of programming at HBO because then people want to pitch things or tell me shows they like or dislike and what we did wrong, and what we should have done more of.
What’s the show that got away?
“Getting On” and “Enlightened” were both special shows, so I’m very proud of them. They had hardcore fans, but on a network with other big shows, I wish they would have gotten a bit more attention.

Gary Levine70th Primetime Emmy Awards, Executive Arrivals, Los Angeles, USA - 17 Sep 2018
CREDIT: Stewart Cook/Variety/Shutterstoc

Gary Levine, Showtime entertainment co-president

What will be your network’s next sleeper hit?
“City on a Hill” [renewed for a second season]. I think the combination of Kevin Bacon and Aldis Hodge is explosive. I love those two actors. To me it’s a meaty, juicy kind of drama that I think may be underestimated because it’s in the form of a cop show. The inner workings are more intricate and will slowly come to the fore.
Name one of your recent TV guilty pleasures.
My unpleasurable watching is Brian Williams every night [on MSNBC]. I seem to be not able to resist, even though I keep wanting to. Also, guilty pleasure of the moment is “Schtisel,” the Netflix Israeli show. It’s a sweet little drama in an ultra Orthodox community. I find it very charming.
What show would you love to steal from a rival?
“Killing Eve” (BBC America). We like messed-up characters that still have muscle to the storytelling and some entertainment value. They do that very well.
What’s the question you’re asked the most?
Probably about the corporate goings-on about the many different companies that are talking about merging, acquiring, buying, selling. Luckily I have nothing to do with any of that.
What do you tell strangers you do for a living?
I say I “work at Showtime.” And my wife always kicks me because she thinks it makes it sound like I’m the janitor there. But I say Showtime with pride. And over the 18 years I’ve been here it’s been nice to see people go from “what’s that?” to “cool.”
What’s the show that got away?
“Tag Team.” When I was at ABC, we did an action drama pilot called “Tag Team” that starred Jesse “The Body” Ventura and Rowdy Roddy Piper as two wrestlers who happen to be in a 7-11 when it’s being robbed. Before the cops get there, the two of them quickly and stylishly dispatch all the robbers. The cops say, “you guys should be on our team.” So the two of them become wrestling cops who tag team each other for justice and the American way. It was an entertaining and mindless but joyous show. We ordered it to series, but it happened to coincide with when Bob Iger became president of ABC. Bob came in and was thrilled to take on “Twin Peaks,” “Thirtysomething” and “China Beach.” But he came from the sports world, and the idea that one of the first shows he would greenlight would be a wrestling drama was just abhorrent. So he killed it. But I think he’s made a few good moves since.

Showtime president of entertainment Jana Winograde and daughter attend the premiere of the ShowTime limited series "The Loudest Voice" at the Paris Theatre, in New YorkNY Premiere of ShowTime's "The Loudest Voice", New York, USA - 24 Jun 2019
CREDIT: Evan Agostini/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

Jana Winograde, Showtime entertainment co-president

What will be your network’s next sleeper hit?
“Back to Life” and “Work in Progress.” They really are something entirely different and they may not get the big love that the big tentpole shows get, but they are worth watching. They are so funny and so different.
Name one of your recent TV guilty pleasures.
My general guilty pleasure is “Survivor.” But boy do I love it. And I’m still a “Bachelor” fan. Old habits die hard.
What show would you love to steal from a rival?
“Big Little Lies” (HBO). I thought the second season was terrific. Meryl Streep, everybody, I just really enjoyed it.
What’s the question you’re asked the most?
“How can you compete?” We think we compete through a combination of quality, making sure that we can connect our quality programs with our audience wherever they want to watch it, and honestly, the growth in scale not just of Showtime but of the CBS Corp. as a whole.
What do you tell strangers you do for a living?
“I’m in TV” or “I co-run Showtime.” I tend to not expound on what I do unless people want to discuss it more.

Frances Berwick, Bonnie Hammer, and Chris McCumber68th Primetime Emmy Awards, Executive Arrivals, Los Angeles, USA - 18 Sep 2016
CREDIT: Chelsea Lauren/Variety/Shutterst

Chris McCumber, NBCUniversal cable entertainment networks president

What will be your network’s next sleeper hit?
Syfy’s “Resident Alien,” premiering sometime next year. Alan Tudyk is the lead on it and this is just a great mix of hardcore sci-fi and humor. It’s so funny. If they can execute in the same way they executed the pilot, this will be a special show.
Name one of your recent TV guilty pleasures.
“Temptation Island.” I think it’s a fun show to watch.
What show would you love to steal from a rival?
For USA, “Live PD” (A&E). That rating is unbelievable, and a really great twist on a familiar franchise done in a great way. For Syfy, “Rick and Morty” (Adult Swim). It’s one of my favorite shows, one of the most brilliantly written shows. When you watch it, you absolutely wish it was on your network.
What’s the question you’re asked the most?
“Are you going to pick up, renew,” fill in the show name here. Over and over again.
What do you tell strangers you do for a living?
I tell them that I watch television for a living. I get paid to watch TV.
What’s the show that got away?
“Billions” was a show we were up against Showtime with, and when we read the script we were like, “this is the perfect USA show.” And recently, “Real Country” on USA is one I thought was really well executed and just the format was well done. That should have been bigger than it was. I really wish “Deadly Class” on Syfy did better, because it was so true to the comic book, and was really well cast and acted. I just don’t understand why it didn’t catch on.

Craig Erwich, Senior VP of Originals at Hulu76th Annual Golden Globe Awards, Executive Arrivals, Los Angeles, USA - 06 Jan 2019
CREDIT: Michael Buckner/Variety/Shutters

Craig Erwich, Hulu senior vice president of originals

What will be your network’s next sleeper hit?
“The Great”
Name one of your recent TV guilty pleasures.
Recently, currently, and as often as I can, I watch “Live PD.”
What show would you love to steal from a rival?
“The Watchmen” (HBO). I loved the comic, hated the movie, and know Damon Lindelof will give it its due.
What’s the question you’re asked the most?
“So you really don’t have an office?”
What do you tell strangers you do for a living?
NFL quarterback who moonlights as a brain surgeon.
What’s the show that got away?
A series based on the novel, “The Power.”

Sarah Aubrey'I Am The Night' TV show premiere, After Party, New York, USA - 22 Jan 2019
CREDIT: Stephen Lovekin/Shutterstock

Sarah Aubrey, HBO Max head of original content

What will be your network’s next sleeper hit?
“Made for Love” from Patrick Somerville. It’s a really warped, modern love story. It’s very original and bizarre in the best way.
Name one of your recent TV guilty pleasures.
“Below Deck Mediterranean.” It is my crack, it is my jam. They have to do a job that’s hard and their shenanigans both from the crew and the people who come on the boat.
What show would you love to steal from a rival?
“Fleabag” (Amazon). It knows its own voice so well, the conviction of the storytelling, and that’s what you get when you have someone who’s both the creator and the star.
What’s the question you’re asked the most?
It’s generally about what this service is going to be, and then a lot of specifics because we haven’t released a lot of specifics yet. But it’s all about HBO Max.
What do you tell strangers you do for a living?
“I make shows.”
What’s the show that got away?
There is a book I optioned as a producer called “Bar Mitzvah Disco” that Nick Kroll wrote with his brother-in-law that was all about bar mitzvahs in the ’80s on the East Coast. It would be a killer, fun teen movie.

Brett Weitz
CREDIT: David Buchan/Variety/Shutterstoc

Brett Weitz, TNT and TBS general manager

What will be your network’s next sleeper hit?
“Chad,” coming in June 2020. Nasim Pedrad plays a 14-year-old boy. It is so well conceived and beautifully done. She wrote it, stars in it. It’s a brilliant comedy in the vein of “Napoleon Dynamite” meets “The Wonder Years.”
Name one of your recent TV guilty pleasures.
“The Chef’s Show,” the Netflix cooking show with Jon Favreau and Roy Choi. I loved every minute of it. Cooking, a little bit of Hollywood, perfect combination.
What show would you love to steal from a rival?
“Stranger Things” (Netflix), which I think is brilliant. It would be the perfect TBS show.
What’s the question you’re asked the most?
That question, what I’m asked most these days.
What do you tell strangers you do for a living?
I usually say, “like every other schmuck in Hollywood, I work in the entertainment business.” If they press, I say “I work for a network.” I never say what I do.
What’s the show that got away?
First season of “Cobra Kai.” I thought it was brilliant, but I ultimately didn’t have the real estate to put it on. I should have pressed it. The first season was brilliant.

Courteney Monroe
CREDIT: Brent N Clarke/Invision/AP/Shutt

Courteney Monroe, National Geographic Global Networks president

What will be your network’s next sleeper hit?
“Barkskins.” Based on Annie Proulx’s bestselling novel, it’s an epic story of adventure and exploration, set in the 1690s in the New World, that follows a disparate group of European immigrants seeking their fortune at the edge of the civilized world. Production began a few weeks ago, and what I’ve seen so far is visually stunning and provocative. Our showrunner Elwood Reid’s vision for this series is extraordinary, and it’s coming to life in a truly magical way. Great script, handcrafted sets and costumes, and of course a very talented cast that includes David Thewlis and Marcia Gay Harden.
Name one of your recent TV guilty pleasures.
I wouldn’t necessarily call it a guilty pleasure, but I was obsessed with the Women’s World Cup this summer. It was thrilling television, and the global scale was awe-inspiring. As the mother of a 13-year-old daughter, I love that her generation has a group of fierce, strong, high-achieving female role models like them to look up to.
What show would you love to steal from a rival?
HBO’s “Chernobyl.” It was extraordinary.
What’s the question you’re asked the most?
Lately, it is “how is it working for Disney?” It’s called the happiest place on Earth for a reason. And its reputation for creative and operational excellence is richly deserved. It’s an incredibly energizing and inspiring organization to be a part of. Very exciting times lie ahead for National Geographic under the Walt Disney Company.
What do you tell strangers you do for a living?
I stick to the truth, because it’s pretty awesome! I run the National Geographic TV business, which is dedicated to telling high-quality, important and entertaining stories that live up to the promise of the National Geographic brand. That means that I have the great privilege of getting to work with Nobel laureates, Emmy and Oscar winners, astronauts, scientists, brave and innovative explorers, award-winning photographers and more. I mean, how great of an answer is that?
What’s the show that got away?
The new “Eco-Challenge” from Mark Burnett, hosted by Bear Grylls. I still wish it were launching on National Geographic.

Starz president global marketing and product planning Jeffrey Hirsch attend the "Outlander" Book Two World Premiere and After Party at the American Museum of Natural History, in New York"Outlander" Book Two World Premiere and After Party, New York, USA - 4 Apr 2016
CREDIT: Evan Agostini/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

Jeffrey Hirsch, Starz chief operating officer

What will be your network’s next sleeper hit?
“The Girlfriend Experience” 3 is going to be spectacular. Based in London, a neuroscientist goes to work in an AI company, working on algorithms for dating services, but she’s a GFE at night. It’s going to be really timely and fascinating.
Name one of your recent TV guilty pleasures.
“The Bachelor.” I just love the entry, when they come in. It’s great television.
What show would you love to steal from a rival?
“Mad Men” (AMC). Go back in time, grab it and bring it to today. It was such a great show.
What’s the question you’re asked the most?
“How can you compete with Netflix?”
What do you tell strangers you do for a living?
Right now I tell people I read TV vs. watch TV, because that’s what we do.
What’s the show that got away?
“Party Down” for sure, and “Magic City.” I think “Magic City” was just ten years ahead of its time. Miami, that period of time, very sexy.

Sarah BarnettAMC 'The Terror: Infamy' TV Show panel, TCA Summer Press Tour, Los Angeles, USA - 25 Jul 2019
CREDIT: David Buchanan/Variety/Shutterstoc

Sarah Barnett, AMC Networks president of entertainment networks

What will be your network’s next sleeper hit?
Picking just one is hard, but I’ll go with “Dispatches From Elsewhere,” which we just started shooting in Philadelphia. It has Jason Segel’s trademark big broad entertaining sensibility but also it’s incredibly, unusually original in how it’s telling a story. It could be a quite startling bit of television. And the cast is phenomenal with Richard E. Grant, Sally Field and Andre Benjamin.
Name one of your recent TV guilty pleasures.
“Years and Years.” It has a grounded emotional way into exploring our worst terrors of what might happen with our society over the next ten years. But I’m not embarrassed by any of my desires. Also “Dead to Me,” I think it’s so smart and I actually love a smart half-hour, particularly with amazing female actors like that. I wouldn’t say it’s guilty because at its heart it’s so meaningful, but I loved the latest season of “Queer Eye.” The Fab Five are just fun.
What show would you love to steal from a rival?
I admired “Russian Doll” (Netflix) for the voice of Leslye Headland and Natasha Lyonne. It’s rich and layered but also has got such a defiant point of view in how the story is told. It’s grappling with such big ideas and in a way that’s executed with perfection.
What’s the question you’re asked the most?
“How do you compete without scale?” And I say, we have four really tight brands, we know who our audiences are, and we make shows that deliver.
What do you tell strangers you do for a living?
I usually say, I work in television, and people ask what I do. I always feel slightly boastful, because I’m British, when I say “I run a bunch of networks.” By the time I’ve run through all four of them, they’re staring in a different direction.
What’s the show that got away?
“Rectify” on Sundance. It’s still the most critically acclaimed drama of all time and it deserved a bigger audience. I believe it has a brilliant afterlife on Netflix.

David Madden'The Walking Dead' TV Show Presentation, Arrivals, PaleyFest, Los Angeles, USA - 22 Mar 2019
CREDIT: Rob Latour/Variety/Shutterstock

David Madden, AMC president of programming, entertainment networks

[Madden is departing this post effective next month.]

What will be your network’s next sleeper hit?
“Dispatches From Elsewhere,” which has just started production, is a show you haven’t heard a lot about yet but you’re going to. It is a truly singular show that is a hard show to describe in an elevator pitch, but a spiritual adventure about four people stuck in their lives who go on a quest to figure out the purpose of life. It’s funny, it’s charming, very brave, and I think it will stand out.
Name one of your recent TV guilty pleasures.
“Better Things,” which is not guilty, but I still watch a lot of the FX comedies. I like “Archer” and respect the spirit of those rebel FX comedies.
What show would you love to steal from a rival?
“Succession” (HBO). It reminds me what “Mad Men” was, in the sense they’re provocative high-end soaps that challenge mores.
What’s the question you’re asked the most?
“How long can you keep trying to expand ‘The Walking Dead’ empire?” As long as we can keep people watching, we think we’re still in the expansion mode.
What do you tell strangers you do for a living?
I tell the truth, although when I am on a plane and someone notices I read scripts, I know if I say “network executive” I’ll be talking for three hours. So I say, “I teach film.” The moment I say “I teach,” no one asks me a follow up question.
What’s the show that got away?
“The Riches,” when I was at Fox TV Studios. I thought that was a really brave show and had a great voice. Had it continued it would have been meaningful.

Michael Wright
CREDIT: Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP/Shu

Michael Wright, Epix president

What will be your network’s next sleeper hit?
Not necessarily a sleeper, but “Godfather of Harlem.”
Name one of your recent TV guilty pleasures.
“Game of Thrones.” I felt guilty because everybody kept telling me I should hate it. But I loved it.
What show would you love to steal from a rival?
“Peaky Blinders” (BBC/Netflix). Steven Knight and that creative team are amazing.
What’s the question you’re asked the most?
“How can Epix compete, surrounded by all these behemoths?” My answer is always, “It only takes one show.”
What do you tell strangers you do for a living?
I tell them I get paid to help people tell their stories. How lucky am I?
What’s the show that got away?
“Hero Quest,” although it maybe has a different title now. It’s Rob McElhenney’s comedy about the video gaming business. I thought it was brilliantly funny.

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    Will Poulter will not be appearing in Amazon’s upcoming “Lord of the Rings” series after all, Variety has learned exclusively. According to an individual with knowledge of the situation, scheduling conflicts will prevent the “Bandersnatch” and “Midsommar” actor from joining the show based on the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. Variety had exclusively reported on Poulter’s [...]

  • Brockmire IFC Hank Azaria

    'Brockmire' to End With Season 4 on IFC

    IFC has announced that the fourth season of “Brockmire,” premiering March 2020, will be the Hank Azaria comedy’s last. As well as Azaria, the show’s stars Amanda Peet, Tyrel Jackson Williams and Katie Finneran are all returning for the final eight-episode send off.  Additionally, “The Flash” star Reina Hardesty is joining the cast. “I really [...]

  • Tamron HallRolling Stone's Women Shaping The

    Tamron Hall Talk Show Renewed for Second Season

    Tamron Hall is staying put in daytime syndication now that Walt Disney Television has renewed her eponymous talk show for a second season. “Tamron Hall” has been re-upped for a second season on stations covering 80% of U.S. TV households, including the eight ABC O&O stations covering New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and other big [...]

  • The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

    'Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' Renewed for Season 4 at Amazon

    “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” has been renewed for a fourth season at Amazon, Variety has learned. The news comes less than a week after the third season debuted, with the whole season dropping on the streamer on Dec. 6. The move comes as now surprise, however, given the critical success the show has enjoyed since [...]

  • Audra McDonald/Geena Davis

    Geena Davis and Audra McDonald to Be Honored at 35th Annual Artios Awards

    Geena Davis and Audra McDonald will be honored by the Casting Society of America (CSA) at the 35th Annual Artios Awards, the organization announced Thursday. Oscar winner and advocate Geena Davis will receive the Lynn Stalmaster Award for Career Achievement at the Los Angeles ceremony. Emmy, Grammy and Tony winner McDonald will be honored with [...]

  • Netflix Releases Explosive Final Trailer For

    Netflix Releases Explosive Final Trailer For 'The Witcher'

    Only eight days away from the series’ release, Netflix dropped the final trailer for its highly anticipated eight-episode first season of “The Witcher.” Best on Andrzej Sapkowski’s bestselling fantasy series of books, “The Witcher” stars Henry Cavill (“Justice League”) as monster hunter Geralt of Rivia, Freya Allan (“The War of the Worlds”) as the young [...]

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