Fall TV Survey: 16 Showrunners Reveal How They Landed Their Star

6:00 AM 9/20/2016

by Bryn Elise Sandberg, Kate Stanhope, and Lesley Goldberg

Mike Schur, Jason Katims, Shawn Ryan and others share how they cast their lead.

"Pure Genius"
Sonja Flemming/CBS

Ahead of the fall television season's debut, The Hollywood Reporter surveyed a number of this year's top showrunners about their new series, making content in 2016 and the state of broadcast TV.

Below, Mike Schur, Jason Katims, Shawn Ryan and other small screen vets share how they landed their show's star.

  • Jason Katims

    'Pure Genuis' (CBS)

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    "There are two. Augustus Prew came in to read for James Bell the very first day of auditions. He was the second actor who read for the role, and I felt terrible for anyone who had to come in and read for the part afterwards. The minute we saw him we know he was our guy. With Dermot Mulroney it was just one of the moments where you’re in the right place at the right time. CBS told us they’ve literally been trying to get him on a show for the past twenty years. Dermot was ready to take on a network show and he connected with the character. We sat down to meet and in the meeting he said he."

  • Liz Friedman

    'Conviction' (ABC)

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    "We knew it was likely that Agent Carter was going away and ABC asked if we [would consider] Hayley Atwell as Hayes. After I was done doing backflips, I said yes. ABC asked us to write her a love letter, and I said yes [to that, too,] and I'd mean every word of it. I still have the letter."

  • Shawn Ryan

    'Timeless' (NBC)

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    "Abigail Spencer? We asked her. I had seen her in a pilot that never aired, directed by my friend Lesli Linka-Glatter, and I thought Abigail was magnificent. I've been stalking her for a few years since then."

  • Josh Berman

    'Notorious' (ABC)

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    "Everyone in town was after Daniel Sunjata. We made him an offer on a Friday, and by Monday morning he had nine other offers. He read the script and put us in first position — we wanted to talk to him and he wanted to talk to us. Five minutes into the conversation, he signed on."

  • Scott Silveri

    'Speechless' (ABC)

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    "With a lot of luck and a couple glasses of white wine."

  • David Guggenheim

    'Designated Survivor' (ABC)

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    "I'd written the script and we had gotten Mark Gordon Co. to be the studio behind it and they threw out Kiefer as a suggestion. I thought, 'Who are we going to go to when he says no, because I didn't think there was any way he was going to do it.' Then he read the script and responded to it. We had a great conversation and he was on board. It's still surreal."

  • Corinne Brinkerhoff

    'No Tomorrow' (The CW)

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    "We were lucky enough to snag Josh the same day his Galavant contract expired. Tori auditioned and completely won us over with her goofy charm, physical comedy skills and professionalism."

  • Mike Schur

    'The Good Place' (NBC)

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    "I pitched the idea for the entire first season, beginning to end, to both Kristen Bell and Ted Danson. I figured it would be an easier sell if they could look at the whole picture before signing on."

  • Jeremy Slater

    'The Exorcist' (Fox)

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    "Our show is a little unusual because we basically have three leads. We fell in love with both Ben Daniels and Geena Davis early in the casting process, but we had one hell of a difficult time casting the third corner of that triangle. We had wanted Alfonso Herrera pretty much from the very beginning, but he was attached to another project and we were forced to move on. Cut to a few weeks later and we were all beating our heads against the wall, because we couldn't find anyone we liked even half as much as Alfonso, and we were due to start shooting in a matter of days. At the last possible second Alfonso's schedule opened up, and we grabbed him and hit the ground running. Those were a fun couple of weeks."

  • Rock Reuben and Bruce Helford

    'Kevin Can Wait' (CBS)

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    "He landed us."

  • Mark Goffman

    'Bull' (CBS)

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    "When Michael Weatherly announced he was leaving NCIS, we knew he was perfect for the role — a unique combination of comedy, warmth, physicality and feral intelligence along with a bruising candor. Plus, my mom loves him."

  • Peter Lenkov

    'MacGyver' (CBS)

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    "Another assist from CBS and James Wan."

  • Jeff and Jackie Filgo

    'Man With a Plan' (CBS)

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    "We'd been kicking the idea for this show around for a while. When we found out Matt was looking for a comedy and hadn't committed to anything we just went ahead and wrote it — CBS sent him the script and a few days later we became very lucky TV writers."

  • Chris Harris

    'The Great Indoors' (CBS)

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    "Joel McHale read the script and responded enthusiastically to the character, setting and jokes after we told him what he’d be paid per episode."

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