Monday, 22 October 2007

What does an Executive Producer actually do...?

With the nastiness over phone lines rumbling on, even infecting TV's Top TwoSome (TM) Ant'n'Dec (try calling them Dec'n'Ant for a while, it's really... well, weird), I've been asked by PWDWIT (People Who Don't Work In Telly) what an executive producer is there for.

It all comes from the fact Dec'n'Ant (told you) were credited as Exec Producers on Saturday Night Phone Line Stealaway and then said they had no idea producers were picking people to sit on the Biggy Jiggy Piggy from a list not from those who'd rung in at a premium rate. Some of the names in the previous sentence may not be accurate - hell, I love telly and think Dec'n'Ant are the best in the business, but I haven't seen that show much - but the facts are true.

Clicky linky:,,2193949,00.html

Then Michael Grade said that their exec producer credits were 'vanity titles', sort of protecting them from the 'nasty producers stealing money from C2DEs' stories but also sort of denigrating (a) the title; and (b) Dec'n'Ant. So my mates who are PWDWIT asked me what an exec producer does, as that's my usual credit on the shows I make.

Err, um, well, it depends, was my answer. I've worked on shows where the exec prod has sat in two meetings, went to one shoot and occasionally sent a one-line email saying "good show". I've also been on programmes where the exec producer has basically been what the Americans would call a showrunner. (Hmmm... much better title, must use that in future...) They hire everyone, work on every aspect of the show, attend loads of meetings and every shoot/broadcast, watch everything, offer comments, liase with celebs and presenters and the like.

Two shows I'm exec'ing at the moment give me very different roles. On both I won the commission, budgeted and scheduled it, hired the staff and helped shape the direction of the series. I also run the finances of both shows - hey, it's my company and we're only little, and we benefit from a commissioning editor / exec producer from the broadcaster who is very proactive. However, one series is run creatively by the series producer, the other I have a much more hands-on role on.

The complications are increased when you work for a big company and execs are assigned internally to, basically, pay their wages. They do nothing really. So my answer is, um, er... well, let me try and sum up the producer credits on a show in a flip and non-too-accurate way:-

The difference between Assos and Assis (as no-one in tv calls them) is so complex it’d take a full book to explain. They’re basically middle management – the producer tells them what to do, they tell the rest of the staff to do it. Often the prettiest people on staff – hell, they didn’t get promoted from researchers for just doing a good job…

Most have never met any of the staff on the show never mind watched it. They’re on the credits solely so the indie can charge money to pay their vast salaries and even vaster expenses. If pushed to offer a comment, they’ll ask for the font to be changed on the logo. Ugly as sin.


The boss. Either pretty as a picture pie or as ugly as a box of warts, depending on where they've just come from or where they're going to.

The boss if there's no series producer, but often a just-promoted person who's on a crappy salary, working as yet another layer of management if there is one.

No comments: