'Modern Family's' Steve Levitan: "In The Beginning, You Just Have to Fake It and Look Confident"
"When I've talked to other writers who have dealt with what they consider to be frustrating showrunners, the number one complaint might be they're indecisive."
"It's a very strange transition when you're used to being one of the guys in the room, just pitching and trying to solve that problem," explained Modern Family creator Steve Levitan during The Hollywood Reporter's Comedy Showrunner Roundtable of the transition to running a show. "And then you have to turn on a completely different part of your brain where you now have to think about it, and of course, second-guess yourself, and wonder if you're right and, 'Does everybody think I'm an idiot?' And then, at the same time, hear what everyone else is saying, because ultimately you have to go, 'OK, that's it, that's great."
Levitan stressed the importance of knowing he has to be decisive as the leader, even if he is unsure of which choice to make. "When I've talked to other writers who have dealt with what they consider to be frustrating showrunners, the number one complaint might be they're indecisive."
At the same time, he notes, "You also can't believe that 'What I say goes.' That's a very strange feeling."
"In the beginning," he says, "you just have to fake it and look confident."
Levitan explained the Modern Family development process to the group, saying "We always start with, 'How is that funny?' And at the same time, we're asking, 'How is this real; what's real about this and what's the truth here?' We're absolutely doing that, but if it just doesn't feel like we can get some good comedy, we let it go."
Levitan joined fellow comedy showrunners Kenya Barris (Black-ish), Jill Soloway (Transparent), Jay Duplass (Togetherness), Robert Carlock (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) and Alec Berg (Silicon Valley) for the Roundtable, where the writer-producers discussed the profound impact of their shows on their respective demographics.
The full Comedy Showrunner Roundtable can be seen on Close Up With The Hollywood Reporter when it premieres Sunday, Sept. 6, at 11 a.m. ET/PT on Sundance TV and HollywoodReporter.com.
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