Neflix’s Luke Cage showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker won the prize for most metaphors used to describe showrunning today at a morning session on the topic at Produced By New York. In a panel on the topic of being CEO of a series, Coker said the gig ranged from being like captaining the Starship Enterprise to like putting on a Thanksgiving dinner for 30.
Coker was joined onstage for the session, titled, “It’s Show (runner) Time: A Primer from the Best in the Business” with Brian Koppelman and David Levien of Showtime’s Billions, Joshua Safran of Quantico and Julie Rottenberg of Bravo’s Odd Mom Out.
The most entertaining exchange on the panel came when Rottenberg and Safran, both of whom wrote on the memorable NBC bomb Smash, bantered about what that experience had taught them.
Rottenberg, who isn’t returning for Season 3 of her Bravo show, joked that, compared to Smash, the budget on Odd Mom Out is akin to her kids’ lunch money. “It was actually, I’m gonna say, liberating, to have so little money,” she said of her Bravo series, since it eliminated things like the wholesale re-shooting of an elaborate musical number to change somebody’s dress.
“When you can throw more money at the problem,” noted Safran, “more problems appear.”
Other tips: If you’re developing a series for the networks, pitch it late, like in November, to compress the subsequent development stasis. Koppelman also stressed the importance of convincing the “dude in charge” not just that you can write, but that you can lead. “A lot of it is learning how to present yourself in that way,” he said.
Another note from Koppleman at the panel, part of the PGA-sponsored one-day event at Time Warner Center: People-pleasers don’t make great showrunners.
People like David Chase and David Milch “didn’t give a f*ck about being liked,” he said.