THR Next Gen 2008: Television
EmptySara Bernstein, 35
vp documentary films
Bernstein knows her projects don't get as much attention as HBO's scripted fare, but "I get to work on documentaries that tell real human stories with genuine dramatic arcs -- and that say something." The University of Maryland grad's first job in film as a PA on an indie earned her "less than $100 a week" and involved "having to take out the garbage." She soon hooked up with HBO's limited series division and helped produce the Emmy-winning 2000 miniseries "The Corner" before joining HBO's docu division. There, Bernstein ascended from docu chief Sheila Nevins' executive assistant to vp, responsible for such projects as the recent Emmy winners "White Light/Black Rain" and "Baghdad ER." If there's a thread connecting HBO's diverse docu slate, it's "the narrative excitement all of these projects carry with them, and the ability to bring the average person's story to light."
Jeremy Elice, 31
vp original programming, series
Elice was working at FX when he first fell in love with the script for "Breaking Bad." When he found out that the project was still available after he joined AMC, he jumped to bring it to his bosses there. The show has since debuted to critical praise, won an Emmy for star Bryan Cranston and been rewarded with a second-season pickup. The New York native and UCLA grad always dreamed of working in film, but his job at FX got him hooked on cable when he saw the yet-to-air pilot of "The Shield." "I had never seen anything like it," he says. Elice also played a key role in the development of AMC's other critical fave and Emmy winner "Mad Men."
Greg Goldman, 34
executive vp development and current series
As a medical student at Western University, a TV career was the furthest thing from Goldman's mind. Then one day, as he was dissecting a brain in his anatomy lab, he realized he wanted to do something else. "I just dropped the brain and walked out," he recalls. He wrote some spec scripts and "finagled (his) way" into a meeting with the producers of one of his favorite shows, "Blind Date." They hired him as an assistant and he learned the producing ropes, then moved to development at ABC, where he oversaw shows like "The Bachelor" and "American Inventor," before landing at RDF two and half years ago. "The opportunity to run development over here was amazing and terrifying," he says. Goldman has since proved himself a brainy exec by selling the company's "Don't Forget the Lyrics" to Fox and more than 60 other territories.
Gil Goldschein, 34
"I'm the first one in and the last one out," Goldschein says of his role at the reality TV pioneer. "I'm in on creative meetings, negotiating deals with the network, budgeting -- every aspect of production and postproduction." The married father of two joined WMA as a business affairs assistant after graduating from Brooklyn Law School, then jumped to the "Real World" and "Road Rules" producer in 2001 as its first in-house lawyer. Named COO in February 2007, Goldschein is now second-in-command to president Jonathan Murray and chief problem solver for a company that can grow to 400-plus employees during production. When star Richard Branson wanted to high-five a contestant on Bunim-Murray's "Rebel Billionaire" while strapped to the wing of an upside-down biplane, Goldschein was the one on the phone negotiating with the insurance company. "We settled on passing a baton instead of clapping, so it gave them space between the planes to insure it," he says.
Adam Goldworm, 32
executive vp independent television
It wasn't supposed to turn out like this. Goldworm was sure he'd end up a washout when he served as executive producer of the 2000 flop "Luckytown," starring Kirsten Dunst and James Caan. "I couldn't get a job after 'Luckytown' to save my life," he recalls. So he earned an M.B.A. from Berkeley and joined Industry in 2004 as "the world's most overqualified production assistant." There, the longtime fan of "The Twilight Zone" and "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" grew interested in making his own TV anthology series. Thus was born 2005's "Masters of Horror," which landed at Showtime and won an Emmy. A second season followed, along with an order for "Masters of Science Fiction" for ABC and the summertime "Fear Itself" anthology at NBC. He is currently executive producing a remake of "The Brood" for Spyglass and is the production executive on the Sci Fi Channel's upcoming "Dragonsteel" miniseries. Goldworm is also serving as a manager to writers, directors and actors in his spare time. "But the truth is I really haven't done anything yet," he says. "I hope to soon."
Amy Hartwick, 34
vp comedy development
As part of her UCLA masters program in social work, Hartwick was spending a lot of time with drug-addicted women on Skid Row. Meanwhile, her roommate was landing jobs in Hollywood through a temp agency. So during the summer, Hartwick signed up with an agency, which placed her at New Line. She later earned a spot in NBC's associate program and her first executive job in 20th TV's comedy department, where she developed "Still Standing" and covered a slew of current series. When "Yes, Dear" co-creator Greg Garcia shared with her his idea for "My Name Is Earl," she stuck with it through 11 passes until NBC picked it up. Then two years ago, her mother recommended she read Cecelia Ahern's novel "PS, I Love You." Hartwick, now at ABC, loved it, tracked down Ahern and asked her to do a series for the net. "Samantha Who?" was born.
Alana Kleiman, 30
director of casting and talent
20th Century Fox Television
It all started with a middle-school crush on Leonardo DiCaprio. "I had a fascination with Leo, so I was determined to work with him in some capacity," Kleiman recalls. But after college, she passed on a job at AMG -- which at the time managed the actor -- for a gig in the Endeavor mailroom. That led to a job at Original Management, whose TV division co-produced "Prison Break" with 20th Century Fox Television, and a move to 20th's casting department. Kleiman orchestrated the most talked-about guest stint last season: Britney Spears' spot on 20th's CBS comedy "How I Met Your Mother," which sparked the show's ratings resurgence. She recently cast Fox's drama "Lie to Me," starring Tim Roth, FX's "Sons of Anarchy," ABC's "Life on Mars" and Ryan Murphy's pilot for Fox, "Glee." Kleiman says she would love to produce someday -- and, of course, to work with DiCaprio.
Patrick Maguire, 35
vp comedy series development
Maguire gave up a job at a Chicago ad agency to move to L.A. and work for $300 a week in the mailroom at Abrams Artists, which required him and his actor roommate to get a second job selling lemonade at Six Flags. "We were the Lemonade Mafia; we would bully the 16-year-olds away from high-traffic areas because we needed the money to pay the rent," he says. After serving as an assistant to DreamWorks TV's Justin Falvey, he started as a current programming executive at ABC before transitioning to comedy development. Last fall, one of his assigned writers, Ric Swartzlander, recommended a spec script written by his friend Ed Yeager. Maguire loved it and bought it, but the strike began before he could take it out. Post-strike, the project got a pilot order from CBS with only four weeks to make it instead of the normal 12. Still, "Gary Unmarried" was delivered on time and picked up to series. Unlike Gary, Maguire is newly married and remains close with his family in Minnesota. "They are my focus group," he says. "My sisters are 35-42 females with families in the Midwest -- ABC's target audience. I know if they like a show, usually it's going to be successful."
Suzanna Makkos, 33
vp comedy development
Fox Broadcasting Co.
After graduating from Southern Methodist University with plans to become a history professor or a lawyer, Makkos moved to Los Angeles and began working for an ambulance chaser. "That cured me of the desire to be an attorney," she says. "It wasn't at all like 'Ally McBeal.' " So Makkos applied for an internship at Fox in comedy development. "I immediately knew this was what I was supposed to be doing with my life." After stints at Walt Disney TV/Touchstone TV and Regency TV, she found her way back to Fox, working on "Malcolm in the Middle" and developing the comedy "Back to You." Now she's shepherding the animated series "Sit Down, Shut Up" with "Arrested Development" creator Mitch Hurwitz. Best perk of the job? "I get to consider a couple of the funniest people in America, Mitch and ('Malcolm's') Linwood Boomer, to be friends."
John Pollak, 31
If you're going to intern for someone, Ben Silverman isn't a bad choice. "I didn't know much about TV at the time," Pollak readily acknowledges. "I think Ben asked me who the heads of the major networks were. I told him I had no idea. He said, 'You're perfect! You'll be great in sales.' " After interning for the Reveille founder and current NBC co-chair, Pollak helped grow the company by taking formats like "Blind Date" to the international market. "(Co-worker) Chris Grant and myself brought a little rock 'n' roll to it as the guys the clients wanted to hang out with." Today, he sells such formats as "The Biggest Loser," "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?" and "American Gladiators" in more than 150 markets worldwide. Pollak also recently helped coordinate a joint venture with Media Rights Capital for ShineReveille to distribute MRC's TV content internationally.
Renate Radford, 35
vp comedy programming
Universal Media Studios
The pressure would seem to be on Radford. Her job is to oversee the development and progression of new series, following in the creatively fruitful footsteps of "The Office" and "30 Rock." The former Paramount page and PA during the final season of NBC's "Wings" signed on at the Peacock nine years ago as an assistant to then-entertainment chief Garth Ancier and later NBC Universal president and CEO Jeff Zucker. Radford continued to climb through the corporate ranks and last year made the move from the network to Universal Media Studios and became vp comedy programming. She's now overseeing the new CBS series "Worst Week" (which she developed), along with the development of pilots "Off Duty" and "Man of Your Dreams." And she's certainly not shy about her ambition. "My goal is to run comedy development, at either the network or the studio. The next step is senior vp. Then there's executive vp. Then there's president." And the position she wants after that? "Well, I guess there's Jeff Zucker's job," Radford jokes.
Leigh Redman, 30
vp drama development
CBS Paramount Network Television
Most of Redman's friends at Indiana University spent spring break of their senior year in exotic locales. She was busy canvassing for jobs in Los Angeles. "I figured being down during spring break would underscore my commitment," Redman recalls. She landed a job in the mailroom at APA before being put on the TV desk two months later. In 2001, she joined CBS as an executive assistant and worked her way up to manager of drama development and current series for shows like "Judging Amy" and "Cold Case." The rare vp before the age of 30 -- she's had a big year developing "90210" -- Redman is a decidedly hands-on exec. "I love the creative aspects, including being in the edit bay and on the set. I like to think they like having me in the edit bay." And even if they don't, Redman can't be dismissed as a suit "since I don't wear one."
Alex Sepiol, 31
director of original scripted series programming
How's this for a batting average: Sepiol's first pitch he brought in as an exec was "Burn Notice," which turned out to be 2007's top-rated new cable show. He now serves as the point person on "Notice" as well as this past summer's "In Plain Sight," a far cry from his first job as an assistant at WMA. After leaving to work for USA's then-new programming executive Jeff Wachtel, he took a year off to freelance before finding himself back at USA. He never imagined himself in this position when he graduated from Stanford with a humanities degree and moved to Los Angeles in 1999. "If you had told me when I was in college what I would get to do, I would have been blown away," Sepiol says of his "dream" job. "The business is changing so much, but I hope to remain adaptable and continue working on great shows," he says.