The Hollywood Reporter Unveils 2013 Reality Heat List
This story first appeared in the April 12 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Deirdre and Scott Gurney founded Gurney Productions in 2005 under the most modest of auspices: They were just dating, working out of the Los Angeles condo they shared, and they'd filmed one pilot for ESPN. Upward of 40 TV series and one monster hit (Duck Dynasty) later, the pair sold a controlling stake in their operation to ITV for $40 million in 2012.
"It was extremely important to us that it was a partnership, not a purchase," says Scott, who, along with his wife, courted offers from several companies in the wake of Dynasty's record-breaking performance on A&E. "We still have our hand in every project, and I still direct every pilot." The Gurneys, also known for Auction Hunters, American Digger and Haunted Collector, since have become a serious boon to ITV's stateside operation, ITV Studios America.
"It's been a relentless pursuit in the U.S. to grow the business organically and through acquisitions over the past five years," says Paul Buccieri, president & CEO ITV Studios America and managing director ITV Studios International. "The Gurneys have real drive, creativity and passion ... and they continue to show the same sense of commitment since joining the family."
The payday and boosted resources might cause another firm to balloon, but the Gurneys have been keen to keep things on cruise control, so to speak, since the big cash infusion. They maintain a handsome staff of 300, which has been relatively steady for the past two years. "We have had to add new dry erase boards for everything in development," adds Scott, who says he never wants to just copy a successful formula. "It's important that we don't become a factory."