During a loose, hour-long session at the PGA’s Produced By NY conference, TV’s top showrunners, sardonically prodded by moderator Mark Gordon, held onto spoilers and indicated, that, alas, the only way to learn how to be a show runner is to become a show runner. Unlike this morning’s Produced By panel “The Ms. Factor” which was specifically angled on the breakthrough of femme-centered content in TV and film, the “Inside Showrunning” session, which included Terence Winter (Boardwalk Empire), Jenni Konner (Girls), Barbara Hall (Madame Secretary) and Greg Yaitanes (Banshee) as panelists, spread itself across several topics.
Hall dished out her three rules of show running: Hire people you like and trust and let them do their jobs. Everybody needs to be on the side of the show. Everybody’s job is the hardest job
“Those are the best rules you’ll ever hear,” responded Konner. She later added her own addendum: Be nice to everybody, it tends to mean getting more done.
Winter, building on the idea of hiring people who are smarter than you, and whom you trust, said that when HBO picked up Boardwalk Empire, “my first call was to Tim Van Patten,” with whom Winter had worked on The Sopranos.
He also said that Howard Korder “understood the show and wrote it probably better than I ever could,” and praised Boardwalk‘s two editors, adding that by the time he saw a director’s cut of an episode ” they were 70 percent there or closer.”
Winter said his big concern as show runner is getting what’s in the script onscreen “in the manner that we intend.”
Konner, though, said that on Girls, “we do a ton of work on-set.” That includes a writer on-hand “futzing” with the script. “We’re not that concerned with post,” she added.
One of the elephants in the room was tomorrow night’s series finale of HBO’s award-winning show Boardwalk Empire. Winter, of course, was completely tight-lipped on whether lead gangster Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi) lives or dies. When asked what the toughest part of his job as show runner was, Winter mentioned having to call actors to tell them their character was being killed off. As Boardwalk wraps up with numerous beloved characters meeting their end, Winter cracked, “I just did one massive conference call” this season.