TCA: NBC Drama Series Showrunners Tell TV Critics How It’s Done

At the end of its day at Summer TV Press Tour 2014, NBC brought out four of the showrunners on returning drama series to take questions. Matt Olmstead (Chicago Fire, Chicago P.D.) said that when he was working on a cable program, “I missed doing 22 [episodes],” while John Eisendrath (The Blacklist) said, “Having never done a 12-episode order, I’m totally jealous.”

Eisendrath was set up to vent about the fact that neither The Blacklist nor its star James Spader scored Drama Series Emmy noms on Thursday. He said he’d be lying if he said he wasn’t disappointed. “I think he’s completely deserving of it. The competition is fierce, that’s the reality — TV is thriving, there’s that much competition. I was disapointed, but I understand how it happened and what happened. We have to continue to do the best shows we can and hope we’re on long enough for people to reconsider,” he concluded, diplomatically.

All the showrunners were asked a certain number of beauty-pageant questions, like ‘what qualities are necessary in a showrunner?’ Jason Katims (Parenthood, About A  Boy) went with “embrace the collaborative nature of making a television show”; Eisendrath went with “not to panic..and be open to new ideas.” Asked what was the most difficult part of the job, Olmstead said, “Trying to figure out what to get Dick Wolf for Christmas.” Asked to reconsider, he went with, “when you get a dud script on a Friday afternoon from a new writer.” Katims said the most joyful part of the job is the juggling. On a given day you…touch six or seven episodes, and keeping them all clear in your the biggest challenge.”  David Greenwalt (Grimm) said it’s important to wear comfortable shoes. Useful advice for nurses, waitresses and showrunners all.

One TV critic wondered how social media is affecting the way they tell stories on their series. “It’s a great way to communicate with the audience directly,” Greenwalt said. “Like research, you want to take in what someone is saying…if there’s a trend. But you don’t want to be run by it, in terms of storytelling.”

This article was printed from