The current explosion of scripted TV series and the proliferation of streaming services has been a boon for writers, WME president Ari Greenburg said during a panel at the INTV conference in Jerusalem.
“There is hardly anything that you can’t sell now,” he said. “Everything that is on television now is exactly the stuff that we told clients not to pitch 15 years ago: serialized dramas, niche dramas, political dramas, Wall Street dramas, period dramas, single-camera comedies. All the impossible has become exactable.”
The panel, moderated by WME co-founder Rick Rosen and also featuring Peter Micelli, eOne’s Chief Strategy Officer, Film and Television, who was previously co-head of the TV department at CAA, and Keith Redmon, Partner, Manager and Producer at Anonymous Content, focused on packaging and selling high-end series.
There was no mention of the current standoff between the WGA and ATA over a couple of issues, including agencies’ packaging fees. Instead, the quartet shared stories of how some hugely successful series came together.
There were some news tidbits sprinkled in them. Talking about the journey to finally get the Modern Love NYT column to the screen as a TV series with writer John Carney, Greenburg hinted at a second season of the series, expected to debut later this year. “We’ve got 10 in,” he said. “I believe they are continuing to do more.”
When discussing the collaboration of Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Greg Berlanti to turn the Archie Comics into “a teen murder mystery wrapped up for the CW in a sterilized drama,” Greenburg called Riverdale “probably the most the successful acquisition right now on Netflix.”
But of all successful series mentioned, HBO’s True Detective was set apart, hailed by all as a game-changer. The quartet on the panel all had involvement in the original season. Redmon’s Anonymous Content produces True Detective; Micelli was a packaging agent at CAA, which represents the writer, Nic Pizzolatto, and stars Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson; and Greenburg and Rosen’s WME represents Fukunaga.
“What was the revelation about that was getting two actors, and everybody to agree that that those actors would go after one season,” Micelli said. “This was for me really the tipping point how the way we do business would change.”
Added Rosen, “To put those two major movie stars together in a show was almost unheard of then. Now, how many years later, there is absolutely no actor who would not consider television, and I think True Detective really opened the door to that. Now the door is wide open.”
Three other innovations that the group credited True Detective with: introducing an eight-episode season before the length became a norm for streamers; pioneering a single director directing a while season (Fukunaga), as well as a one-off limited series that found a way to become an anthology series.