28 TV Chiefs Reveal Their Most-Wanted Stars and How Trump Will Influence Shows

6:00 AM 1/27/2017

by Lesley Goldberg

Top execs from NBC's Jennifer Salke to HBO's Casey Bloys weigh in on everything from the showrunner they'd love to work with to the thing they wish their peers would stop talking about already.

Charlie Collier, Channing Dungey and Jennifer Salke
Charlie Collier, Channing Dungey and Jennifer Salke
Getty Images
  • The talent who isn't on TV but should be is…

    DAVID NEVINS (SHOWTIME) Natalie Portman

    KEITH COX (TV LAND)  I miss Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.

    NICK GRAD (FX, FXXX) Quentin Tarantino

    COURTENEY MONROE (NAT GEO) Elon Musk

    KENT ALTERMAN (COMEDY CENTRAL) David Letterman

    BILL ABBOTT (HALLMARK) Jay Leno

    CHRIS LINN (truTV) Dave Chappelle

    DAVID MADDEN (FOX) Damien Chazelle

    MARK PEDOWITZ (THE CW) I thought everybody was doing TV?!

  • The last deal that had me really envious was…

    MATT CHERNISS (WGN AMERICA) Showtime's Twin Peaks.

    COX Matt Weiner's Amazon series.

    ERIC SCHRIER (FX, FXX) Netflix's The Crown. We were aggressive about it.

    CINDY HOLLAND (NETFLIX) HBO's The Night Of. The show, not the deal.

    CHANNING DUNGEY (ABC) NBC's This Is Us.

    ALTERMAN Netflix paying comedians more than Donald Trump's net worth.

    CHRIS MCCARTHY (MTV, VH1, LOGO) ABC's overall deal with Regina King.

    ADAM STOTSKY (E!, ESQUIRE) FXX's acquisition of the Simpsons library.

    CRAIG ERWICH (HULU) AMC's The Spy Who Came in From the Cold.

    ROY PRICE (AMAZON) None. We got all the deals we wanted.

    NEVINS Envy is not a good look on network executives.

  • How will Trump play a role in your future programming?

    MONROE We just announced a documentary films banner, and we're looking to tell provocative, timely stories. Maybe there will be a Trump documentary under that banner.

    HOLLAND That is up to the creators who work with us.

    RICH ROSS (DISCOVERY, ANIMAL PLANET, SCIENCE) We're one of the few networks that didn't have to change anything because we were speaking to an audience that is really speaking out as not being heard, and they're being heard on our network. That's why Discovery had its second-highest ratings ever during the election.

    ROB SHARENOW (A&E, LIFETIME) He seems to have a loyal core fan base, so I'd be open to him auditioning for any number of projects we have in development on either A&E or Lifetime.

  • My most Red State program is…

    PEDOWITZ Supernatural

    CHERNISS Outsiders and Underground

    SHARENOW Bring It!

    SCHRIER It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

    BLOYS Ballers

    HOLLAND The Ranch

    PRICE All or Nothing

    LINN Fameless

    ALTERMAN Tosh.0 because Daniel [Tosh] is an equal-opportunity offender. Liberals and conservatives never tire of seeing people whack their own selves in the nuts.

  • What's the most surprising thing about the TV season so far?

    COX NFL ratings slipping.

    NEVINS The dearth of cancellations.

    SCHRIER That there's one breakout hit, NBC's This Is Us, and nothing else.

    ABBOTT Ratings are either flat or up in most places.

    MCCARTHY Why more people aren't talking about HBO's Insecure.

    JENNIFER CASERTA (IFC) Everything about FX's Atlanta in the best way possible.

    SARAH BENNETT (BBC AMERICA)  Political satire is still funny.

    HOLLAND There's still a season?!

  • And the one that has you most fearful?

    PEDOWITZ It's hard to get heard when you're pushing close to 500 scripted series. You have to have a lot of patience.

    CHERNISS Fragmentation.

    GRAD Derivative programming.

    HOLLAND Fake news.

    PRICE I'm just not feeling fearful now.

    CASERTA The media consumption habits of anyone under 30.

    COLLIER Countless examples of elevated storytelling.

    BLOYS Everyone in film wanting to dip their toes in the TV pool.

     

  • Whom I'd cast in the upcoming Roger Ailes/ Megyn Kelly miniseries…

    PEDOWITZ Kevin James would make an interesting Roger Ailes.

    COX Will Ferrell and Kristen Wiig.

    PRICE Toby Jones and Margot Robbie.

    LINN Bill Murray and Kristen Wiig.

    ROSS Katherine Heigl would be great.

    BENNETT John Goodman and Charlize Theron.

    SHARENOW I'd love to see William Shatner.

    ALTERMAN Donald Trump and Kellyanne Conway. It's already in development.

  • I'm sick of talking about...

    PEDOWITZ Nielsen. Just do the job.

    COX Trump, Netflix, Putin.

    GARY NEWMAN (FOX) Peak TV

    STOTSKY Netflix's programming budget.

    CHRIS MCCUMBER (USA, Syfy)The so-called "content bubble."

    ROSS Awards won and not the stories told.

    CHARLIE COLLIER (AMC, SUNDANCE) Inaccurate measurement, but we have to keep talking about it.

    JENNIFER SALKE (NBC) Ratings

    SCHRIER Netflix

    BARNETT Skinny bundles. Not the concept so much as the words.

  • A show is canceled when…

    CHERNISS A network has no intention of bringing it back and no other network wants to make it.

    COX There's no buzz in or outside the company.

    NEVINS The story has peaked, the creator says it's done, and I no longer believe there's gas still in the tank.

    GRAD Never, I'm still waiting for Netflix to bring back Manimal!

    CASEY BLOYS (HBO) Hopefully when the showrunners feel that the series has come to a natural conclusion and their story has been told.

    JANA BENNETT (HISTORY) The cost outweighs its popularity, the story or talent run out of road, or the show is just never ever going to take off.

    HOLLAND When we cancel it.

    SALKE It underperforms and doesn't show any measurable passionate fan base with potential to grow.

    CASERTA You learn from Twitter your star has a movie deal.

    MCCUMBER The audience loses passion for it.

    NEWMAN The audience tells you they’re not interested. And it’s usually heartbreaking.

    COLLIER It has been fully evaluated on its own merits, taking into account variables as disparate as viewership, storyteller vision, fan engagement, business economics and what the Magic 8 Ball says.

    ALTERMAN It runs its natural course … or our fans tell us it has.

  • What's the genre that's overdue for a renaissance?

    CHERNISS Space-based sci-fi.

    NEVINS Half-hour episodic anthology.

    COLLIER The procedural.

    HOLLAND Westerns

    ROSS Game shows

    BARNETT Smart, unabashedly satisfying episodic drama.

    CASERTA Is Hamilton officially a genre yet?

    NEWMAN A police procedural not set in Chicago.

  • The showrunner I'd love to work with is…

    PEDOWITZ Damon Lindelof (1) and Carlton Cuse (2) •

    NEVINS Shonda Rhimes (3) and Larry David (4)

    GRAD Kenya Barris (5)

    HOLLAND Shonda Rhimes (3)

    PRICE David Mandel (6)

    SALKE Donald Glover (7)

    COLLIER Norman Lear (8)

    ERWICH Ryan Murphy (9)

    BARNETT Kathryn Bigelow (10)

    ALTERMAN Jenji Kohan (11)

    SHARON LEVY (SPIKE) Steven Knight (12)

    DUNGEY Ryan Murphy (9)

  • Would you have done the KKK docuseries?

    GRAD I like to talk about programming that explores why we're so divided, but I'm not into giving a voice or glorifying people who are in such an extreme place. I don't need to bridge that gap.

    MONROE As a proper documentary with an acclaimed filmmaker? Potentially. As a reality show? Absolutely not.

    PRICE Probably not.

    NEVINS Would I do a documentary about the KKK? Yes.

    LINN No, there's nothing funny about the KKK so it wouldn't be on-brand for us.

    ROSS No, I don't think there's any way that that will not be inflammatory. There are stories to be told but that was playing with fire, and a fire that I don't think was necessary.

    STOTSKY We actually do a KKKKKK series… Kim, Khloe, Kourtney, Kendall, Kylie and Kris.

    ABBOTT No.

  • The worst part of awards season is…

    NEVINS Losing my Sundays.

    GRAD It never ends.

    BLOYS Too many nights out away from my family.

    HOLLAND That so much great talent goes unrecognized.

    ERWICH Making sure your tux fits.

    ALTERMAN tTe morning after.

    BENNETT Not winning … or seeing the same shows nominated year on year. Because it is more exciting to celebrate new shows (unless they are your entries!).

    COLLIER It turns out that no one else in the world agrees it’s a season.

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