Next Gen 2011: Hollywood's Fastest-Rising Stars
Having spent much of his upbringing abroad in Taiwan, England, China and Sri Lanka with his family (his father was a State Department employee), Riegg, 34, used U.S. TV shows as his connection to home. In fact, stateside friends made a habit of recording his favorites -- The Simpsons, America's Funniest Home Videos, Saved by the Bell, In Living Color, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air -- and sending VHS tapes. "They were these six- or eight-hour tapes, and they would send them two or three at a time," he recalls of the regular care packages, which he believes made him a bigger TV fan than he otherwise might have been. Although Riegg briefly toyed with a career in journalism and a more traditional finance path during college, the University of Pennsylvania grad and fitness fanatic ultimately decided to make TV shows as a profession. After a college internship at the TV Academy in Los Angeles followed by stints at Fox TV Studios, VH1 and ABC, where he oversaw Wipeout and Dancing With the Stars, he was recruited to NBC in July 2010. During the last year-plus, Riegg has divided his time between new projects (a rebooted Fear Factor) and programming on the air (America's Got Talent, The Biggest Loser). What's the appeal of unscripted? "It's a lot quicker," he says, noting that he enjoys how reactive and responsive he's able to be in the reality space. "And unlike asking a writer to make a scene more emotional or giving another note [as one would in scripted], here you work in the trenches and are brainstorming and collaborating with them."