28 TV Network Chiefs on Dream Casting, the Reboot Craze and What Happens Under President Trump

6:00 AM 9/16/2016

by Lesley Goldberg and Lacey Rose

Top executives reveal their candid thoughts on everything from Peak TV ("When some network decides to reboot 'Cop Rock'") to the value of awards ("I like a good afterparty").

ABC/Jack Rowand; Courtesy of FX; Courtesy of Netflix

ABC's Channing Dungey, FX/FXX's John Landgraf, Netflix's Cindy Holland

  • Have we reached Peak TV?

    JOHN LANDGRAF I think we'll hit it in 2017 or 2018, and there will be over 500 scripted original shows.

    GARY NEWMAN We know we will have reached Peak TV when dinner-party conversations turn away from, "What are you watching?" and go back to, "Seen any good movies lately?"

    MARK PEDOWITZ We're probably a year or two away.

    JENNIFER SALKE I hope we've reached it.

    DAVID NEVINS My prognosticating hamsters say 2022. (Laughs.)

    CHRIS MCCUMBER When some network decides to reboot Cop Rock.

    CINDY HOLLAND I don't think we've reached the peak for on-demand TV, but I think it's probably true that there's too much mediocre television built for the linear age.

    CHRIS ALBRECHT There [isn't] a peak when it comes to creativity.

    KEITH COX As a viewer, yes! I have 1 percent left on my DVR.

    CHARLIE COLLIER I'll just keep working until John Landgraf calls and tells me it's OK to go home.

  • The recent trend that has me most frustrated is …

    NEVINS People trying to get serious commitments without scripts.

    FRANCES BERWICK The lack of respect for unscripted or reality TV when it's still the powerhouse in terms of reach and scale.

    CHANNING DUNGEY The presumption that a show is better just because it's on streaming or premium cable.

    COURTENEY MONROE The amount of money that goes into Emmy Award campaigns and the gaming of that system.

    BILL ABBOTT The media's never-ending focus on cord-cutting.

    COX Offer-only deals.

    HOLLAND Discussions about Peak TV.

  • As a TV fan, the Emmy nomination — which my network had nothing to do with — that made me most excited was …

    LANDGRAF Master of None. It's nice to see a fresh perspective such as that represented by Aziz Ansari and his team recognized by the full Academy. We tried to buy it.

    SHARON LEVY Sarah Paulson for The People v. O.J. Simpson. Her portrayal of Marcia Clark was genius — and an excellent perm.

    RICH ROSS Rami Malek of Mr. Robot.

    MCCUMBER Silicon Valley for best comedy series.

    DUNGEY Tatiana Maslany of Orphan Black.

    HOLLAND The Americans breaking through in season four.

    COX RuPaul for RuPaul's Drag Race.

  • The show I feel guilty for not having seen yet is …

    NEVINS The Americans

    JENNIFER CASERTA Bloodline. Don't judge me.

    CASEY BLOYS Lady Dynamite

    PEDOWITZ The Night Of

    DUNGEY The Path

    CHRIS LINN Game of Thrones

    ALBRECHT Friends

    ROB SHARENOW The final four seasons of Downton Abbey.

    MICHAEL KLEIN The Game of Thrones finale.

    ABBOTT Scandal

    COLLIER Breaking Bad. It's on my DVR. No spoilers, please.

  • The competitive move that impressed me most this year was …

    NEVINS The People v. O.J. Simpson taking a well-known historical event and making riveting drama.

    LEVY Bringing back Star Trek to anchor CBS All Access.

    ROY PRICE Developing Preacher at AMC.

    ABBOTT Everything FX touches.

    DUNGEY The execution of Fox's Grease Live!

    HOLLAND I would have said Grease, but Fox is just copying what Bob [Greenblatt] did at NBC so you have to give him credit.

  • If I could run another TV network for a day, I'd choose …

    DANA WALDEN ABC on Oscar Sunday (good seats).

    NEVINS ESPN

    BLOYS Comedy Central

    NEWMAN Golf Channel

    BERWICK Ibiza TV, as in you're based there.

    CRAIG ERWICH Nickelodeon. My kids have heard they have a slide at their offices.

    LEVY HBO. I would be on the set of Game of Thrones, hanging out in King's Landing.

    MCCUMBER MTV Classic so I can program Yo! MTV Raps, Headbangers Ball and 120 Minutes.

    CASERTA NBC, ABC or CBS … in 1988.

  • Awards, acclaim or ratings?

    WALDEN Ratings, awards, acclaim — I want all three, but in that order.

    KEVIN REILLY I never thought they were mutually exclusive.

    DUNGEY I'm a broadcast network, so I have to say ratings.

    ADAM STOTSKY Revenue and profits.

    SHARENOW Ratings. Acclaim and awards can be driven by bias and perception; nobody's watching something they don't want to watch, no matter how many awards it wins.

    BLOYS I give them equal weight.

    NEVINS Ratings.

    HOLLAND Audience. (Laughs.)

    CASERTA Awards/acclaim — I like a good afterparty.

  • Is there any actor or actress left whom you think couldn't be convinced to do TV today? If so, whom?

    LEVY Helen Mirren should come on Ink Master and get a tattoo on us! Come on, Dame Mirren — we love you!

    KLEIN The ones who aren't should take a second look. Jennifer Aniston, we're looking at you.

    LINN I wish we could convince Chris Rock to come and do something for us.

    HOLLAND I'd like to think we could convince anybody.

    SALKE I'd like to challenge someone to get Tom Cruise to star in a TV show. I can have a pitch for him in an hour.

    COX Please — everyone has a price.

  • I wish the town's reps understood that …

    BERWICK Saying that they've got three other offers doesn't make me more inclined to want to buy it.

    JANA BENNETT Keeping costs in line will only help the longevity of their show.

    SALKE When they load up the above-the-line with heavy costs on nonwriting producers, they burden the production and make the show hard to support and sustain because it's economically disastrous.

    SHARENOW Straight-to-series orders can hurt a project's chances at longevity.

    HOLLAND Confidentiality means confidentiality.

    PEDOWITZ It's only business.

  • The new show that has me envious is …

    LANDGRAF The Night Of

    WALDEN Designated Survivor

    MATT CHERNISS Stranger Things

    DUNGEY This Is Us

    SHARENOW The Circus

    KLEIN Stranger Things

    BLOYS The People v. O.J. Simpson

    PEDOWITZ This Is Us and Pitch

  • The retreat from scripted TV will begin when …

    SHARENOW My unsold sitcom-pilot script from 1999 gets picked up for a full series order. It will also be a sign of the coming apocalypse.

    LANDGRAF 2018 or 2019 at the latest, and I don't think it'll be huge. Some have already started to retreat, but the streaming services have so many more shows that they're going to be premiering — particularly Netflix, which is making more shows than any brand ever has in the history of TV by a wide, wide margin — that that will overwhelm any businesses that are retreating from it.

    LEVY Financially it stops making sense.

    ALBRECHT The locusts return.

    PRICE We all wear augmented-reality spectacles all day.

    ROSS More international networks program local production, which will stress the U.S. production model.

    COLLIER President Trump appoints Kim Kardashian FCC chairman, and she commands that it be so.

  • The industry keeps betting on recognizable IP despite a consistent string of high-profile failures. How long will the trend continue?

    LANDGRAF Forever.

    CHERNISS Until the only remaining IP is Manimal.

    DUNGEY For a while because it's so much harder in this Peak TV landscape to get people to even show up and pay attention.

    MONROE Until a force stronger than familiarity prevails, and I don't see that happening.

    LINN I don't think much longer. People are getting tired of it. Ghostbusters is a great example of it: It didn't feel like a reinvention; it felt like a rehash of something that had its moment.

  • Broadcast TV is …

    LANDGRAF Still the most important segment of the television ecosystem.

    NEWMAN The single most powerful vehicle for shaping popular culture.

    NEVINS Healthier than people realize.

    STOTSKY A better business today because of retrans fees.

    MONROE Still a way to reach a lot of people in a short amount of time.

    LINN For my parents.

  • The hardest show for me to cancel was …

    WALDEN The Grinder

    NEVINS Penny Dreadful

    DUNGEY Nashville

    SALKE The New Normal

    PEDOWITZ The Vampire Diaries

  • As an industry, I wish we'd stop …

    BENNETT Saying there is "too much TV." Have you heard all of those football fans complaining about all of those extra nationally televised games? Me neither.

    WALDEN Reporting on overnights. (I know, I'm a broken record.)

    ERWICH Focusing only on established stars, rather than making new ones.

    SHARENOW Overpraising mediocrity and overusing the word "genius."

    COX Talking about millennials.

    SALKE Saying network programming is on the decline.

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