TV Upfronts: Meet the Mega-Producers

A roster of established producers add to their overall hauls, as proven commodities becoming increasingly valuable in an era of increased competition.
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Dick Wolf, left, Shonda Rhimes and Greg Berlanti

In an era of increased competition from cable and streaming services alike, the broadcast networks continued to turn to more experienced producers for their new fall fare. Following a pilot season that saw several remakes developed as the Big Five look for proven formats and instant brand recognition, the broadcasters look for the same ability to market new fare by promoting them with well-known producers like Shonda Rhimes, Dick Wolf and Greg Berlanti.

Here's a look at the 2015-16 season's biggest winners, including those who now have multiple series on broadcast and cable. (Last year's overachievers can be found here.)

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Aaron Kaplan (seven)

Though a non-writing producer and lacking the name recognition of super-producers like Rhimes, Kaplan's Kapital Entertainment — which had more than 15 sales this development season — scored NBC's lone freshman renewal with an abbreviated order for Mysteries of Laura. The Debra Messing drama is now joined by CBS family ensemble Life in Pieces; the second season of ABC's anthology Secrets & Lies; HBO's Sarah Jessica Parker comedy Divorce; ABC Family's Kevin From Work and Chasing Life; and Nickelodeon's Instant Mom.

Steven Spielberg/Amblin TV (seven)

Justin Falvey and Darryl Frank's Amblin Television — a unit of Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment — scored a pickup for Fox's Minority Report reboot, which joins TNT's Falling Skies and Public Morals; ABC's summer drama The Whispers; CBS' Under the Dome and Extant; as well as FX's critical darling The Americans.

Greg Berlanti (6 shows)

Berlanti this season added DC's Legends of Tomorrow to The CW's schedule that already features fellow DC Comics fare The Flash and Arrow, while CBS joined the superhero fray with Supergirl. On NBC, Berlanti scored a pickup for thriller Blindspot as his Mysteries of Laura was the network's lone returning freshman series with a 13-episode renewal.

Howard Gordon (4)

Gordon and his 20th TV-based Teakwood Lanes banner have four shows on the air, with Fox's The Frankenstein Code joining Showtime's Homeland, FX's Tyrant, TNT's Legends, with Fox mulling another run of 24.

Sean Hayes (4)

Hayes and his Universal Television-based Hazy Mills partner Todd Milliner produce three scripted shows on NBC with rookie comedy Crowded joining Friday genre play Grimm and unscripted Hollywood Game Night. Factor in the final season of TV Land's Hot in Cleveland and spinoff The Soul Man, and the company's total hits four scripted and five overall.

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Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci (4)

With the addition of CBS' adaptation Limitless, the prolific movie producers will have four dramas on the schedule and three on the network (Scorpion, Hawaii Five-0 and Fox's Sleepy Hollow).

Seth MacFarlane (4)

MacFarlane remains the same as last year, with American Dad scoring a quick renewal at TBS. MacFarlane's Family Guy will be joined by new animated comedy Bordertown on Fox after a year-plus on the bench. The prolific producer also now has a premiere date (Aug. 22) for his two-season live-action Starz comedy Blunt Talk, starring Patrick Stewart

Shonda Rhimes & Betsy Beers (4)

The masterminds behind ABC's killer Shondaland TGIT lineup of Grey's Anatomy, Scandal and How to Get Away With Murder will executive produce ABC's midseason entry, The Catch, starring Mireille Enos. That series, from showrunner Jennifer Schuur, will take over for Pete Nowalk's Murder when the Viola Davis sophomore drama ends its short order.

Dick Wolf (5)

The Law & Order: SVU mastermind has turned Chicago into NBC's newest franchise with Chicago Med joining PD and Fire. On the unscripted front, NBC ordered live legal show You the Jury to its ranks, giving Wolf five shows on the network. They join unscripted cable series Cold Justice and its upcoming spinoff Cold Justice: Sex Crimes at TNT as well as A&E's Nightwatch. Now, about that Law & Order revival

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Mark Gordon (5)

The Mark Gordon Co. added Criminal Minds spinoff Beyond Borders as well as ABC's Quantico to a roster that also boasts Showtime's Ray Donovan and veteran Grey's Anatomy. 

Chuck Lorre (3)

Stop the presses: Lorre will have a bit more time in his schedule after CBS bid farewell to his veteran comedy Two and a Half Men after 12 seasons. That leaves Lorre with CBS' The Big Bang Theory, Mike & Molly and Mom. Meanwhile, Lorre's Big Bang Theory co-creator Bill Prady will also be pulling double duty with ABC's The Muppets.

Ryan Murphy (3)

After quietly inking a new overall deal with 20th Century Fox Television last year, Murphy and frequent collaborator Brad Falchuk have three shows with the addition of Fox's straight-to-series horror comedy Scream Queens replacing Glee at the network. All told, all three of their shows are anthologies, with FX prepping the latest incarnation of American Horror Story and season one of American Crime Story, with the latter focused on the O.J. Simpson trial.

Julie Plec (three)

For the second time in her career, Plec will have three series on The CW after the younger-skewing network picked up her remake of Belgian series Cordon to series. That will join veterans The Vampire Diaries and its spinoff, The Originals. (RIP, Berlanti-Plec remake The Tomorrow People.)

See more Broadcast TV's Returning Shows 2015-16

Other notable over-achievers include Sarah Timberman and Carl Beverly (CBS' Elementary, The Odd Couple; Showtime's Masters of Sex, A&E's Unforgettable, VH1's Hindsight); Carlton Cuse (A&E's Bates Motel, The Returned, FX's The Strain, USA's Colony); Will Packer (Ride Along), who in his first year developing for the small screen went 2-for-2 (ABC's Uncle Buck and NBC's People Are Talking); Team NCIS' Shane Brennan and Gary Glasberg (three); Bill Lawrence (NBC's Undateable live and CBS' Rush Hour); Dan Fogelman (ABC's Galavant and Fox's Grandfathered); Davis Entertainment (NBC's The Blacklist and The Player)

On the flipside, there are some notable departures from the list this season. They include Jason Katims (whose Parenthood ended its run and sophomore comedy About a Boy was canceled, both at NBC, but has a show at Hulu show greenlit straight to series); Kevin Williamson (who saw Fox unfollow The Following and CBS ax Stalker); as well as Bruno Heller and Hart Hanson, whose tallies dip to one apiece after CBS' The Mentalist ended its run and Fox dropped Backstrom, respectively.

Email: Lesley.Goldberg@THR.com
Twitter: @Snoodit

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