TV Guide Channel announces new reality – Search for America’s Next Producer
An exclusive by Oliver Carnay
TV Guide Channel is producing its first and biggest original reality television production, in July this year, in cooperation with Magical Elves, the executive producers of such hits Project Runway, Top Chef, and Project Greenlight. It will be a 10 episode reality competition series that will give chances to producers who must prove their abilities to create and execute compelling television concepts from variety genres, scripted to reality. There will be elimination rounds like in any reality shows. Host and judges will include a mix of celebrities, accomplished TV producers and industry deal-makers. Prizes for the show include a $100,000 cash, a production office in Hollywood, and a first-look deal with TV Guide Channel.
(Photo: TV Guide Channel's America's Next Producer casting directors Chad Haywood and Danielle Barba with Balita Media's Oliver Carnay during an exclusive interview with both at the Los Angeles Open Casting Call auditions held at Le Deux in Hollywood.)
(Photo: Tyson Birmann (top) and John Lordan (bottom) are some of the professionals who might have a chance to be America's Next Producer.)
During the Los Angeles Open Casting Call held at Le Deux in Hollywood, this writer had an exclusive interview with Danielle Barba and Chad Haywood, Casting Directors for TV Guide’s new reality show. As busy as they were, conducting interviews to more than a hundred, mostly tv industry workers, both were kind enough and took their time out to accommodate me. “This project has been actually in development for a while,” Chad initially said. “This is TV Guide Channel’s first big push into reality television. It’s a new competition series called America’s Next Producer, and we have the task of finding the person who is going to create the next television phenomenon, whether it’s reality or scripted half or an hour drama. We don’t have an exact airdate yet, but it will be on the new TV Guide Channel soon.”
What are you exactly looking for when you say ‘the next producer’? “We’re looking for the type of producer that can do anything. That no matter what store room, will pick it up and run with it. Someone who has passion, innovative, creative, one that has new ideas, and that will do anything to make it happen,” replied Danielle.
Among those who I’ve talked to who wants to take a shot in this reality-show are mostly guys who are in the IT business. But also, I’ve even met a guy who works for a cemetery. A few have worked actually inside a television show. Would it make a big difference if they have already an experience if they have worked for a television show? “Absolutely, if you’ve been in an environment such as inside the studio, or someone who was already a producer would definitely know what he had gone through. Definitely, you would have known ahead of time what’s going to happen at some point. But what it takes also, is a great idea, and what Danielle said that is important earlier – is their drive and passion.” Chad explained.
“Yes, we are looking for people who have different background and different levels of expertise. If they have ideas, they have a passion about it, and they can make it happen, then we’re excited to meet them. People in Chicago, in Napa, in a small towns all over the country, who are undiscovered, whether they are actors, producer, or director, someone in a band – there are talents everywhere. So, it doesn’t matter where you come from, as long as you have talent, and you have that drive and you can make it happen, you have a chance!” added Danielle.
And I guess management skills, here are very important, too? “Definitely yes, they should have management skills, too. Producers run the show and they are in charge of the entire production, everything about the show. They should be directing the writers, working on field locations, telling the camera what to do. You really have to have everything to run the show. You are managing a team when you are a producer. So you have to know everything and be able to run the show and do it all,” Chad answered.
What about the prizes? “The prizes are fun! The winner of “America’s Next Producer” receives a hundred thousand dollars ($100,000.00), a first-look deal with the TV Guide Channel and their very own production offices in Hollywood!”
Do they already need to have a show idea that is ready to be pitched so they can be considered to be included as one of the finalists? “Yes, they should already have a show pitched, sell to network, and we’ll make it happen.”
Are there any rules regarding owning their original ideas? Do they need to copyright it first or you have to own it? “One requirement that we have is that it should be created solely by the applicant or the person being initially interviewed.”
How many people are you looking forward to apply before you stopped the selections? “I don’t think we have a definite number yet. Right now, we’re just meeting people, with different backgrounds, and have an idea, but we don’t have a definite number in mind how much we are going to take in. But we will stop taking applications on March 18 (It was extended to March 26).
Outside the open casting line, I caught up with some of the applicants waiting in line before their turn to be interviewed. Tyson Birmann, Nick Oram, and John Lordam are some of the most confident ones because of their industry background:
Tyson Birmann – “I’ve spent the last 9 years of 32 in the film industry doing everything from assistant directing features, to producing and directing national commercials and music videos, soundman, camera operators, and even building web sites and others. I took 7 years in NY and 3 years in Miami. L.A. is kind of starting from scratch, in a lot of ways, no matter what your background is until you integrate yourself in the studio system. It seems a bit hard to approach.”
How did you hear about the search? My friend emailed me about the contest. I just looked it up, read it, and never been a real big proponent of myself going on a reality show but when it exactly what you wanted to do with your life and it’s right on your face, you might as well give it a shot, right?”
What do you think are they looking for? “I think they are looking for personalities. I’d like to think they are looking for strong candidates for the position of producer. However, most producers I know don’t make good television. They are not very exciting people. They are not as flamboyant as the better producers. I think the next best producer is not going to be a credible personality. They are going to be very good at their job. You don’t see a lot of interviews with Jerry Bruckheimer and Steven Spielberg because they are not extraordinary individuals as personality wise. They are, even very killed, and business-minded people that speaks the truth and speak it well. Therefore, they don’t necessarily fit in the current reality show. I’m hoping they are going to pepper a few with those kinds of qualifications in there, because I think I’m the people who fit it. At the same time, I’m a pretty generic looking L.A. guy. So I’m just hoping that they take that we need a little quality as well as entertainment.”
“I think I have a better understanding of how the project works because most people do. It’s actually a producer’s job to conceptualize the story. So, all the people that will be involved in the story, to be told that and get the most out of it – that’s the producer’s job. Those actors make sure that they deliver the performance that best represents their character. The producer’s job is to coordinate everyone that is involved in the project. To make that project as a whole as good as it can be, including money, and all that stuff, but not limited to non-creative things. It is a very creative situation.”
“Just knowledge across the board of the industry, I know I can speak just about any language of production. If I talk to a soundman he would know the words to listen to make sense to him quickly and concisely. I have done a lot of camera works, and I can talk to a DP and can get the quickest results with a few amounts of words, which is huge on a film set when you are moving a pace where you are. Less is more and I think knowledge is important. You should also able to things, see the problem, before it comes up, before they actually come up. Instead of reacting to problems, you should be able to see and fix the problem before it happens. That’s the very core --- that’s producing. Managing problems but more so, preventing the problems,” he quipped.
Nick Oram – “I am a television host and producer of my own travel show called JETSET. It was on the Travel Channel. I did it for two years. I just did another reality called “America’s Top Trainer.” I was the host and yeah, it was good.
How did you hear about this? “My friend told me about it and I thought I should go for it. I heard about it and I was excited because I know I wouldn’t go out for something like this reality show, but this is totally at my eye. I was a personal trainer before I was a produced. I think they are really looking for a really driven producer who will work hard what it takes to be successful. And it has edge to them because everybody can be a producer, it’s just how well you produce it and what’s different about you. I think they are looking for a personality, how bad a person wants to be to be a producer. I have the edge because I have the experience. This is my dream. I love producing and this is what I want to do. I like competition so with all this things, I am a great candidate. I’ve done some acting, worked on a couple of soap operas and movies.”
John Lordan is currently an IT manager and has a lot of live theatre experience in terms of producing, directing, acting, and musical and comedy is his specialty. “I’ve also done some stand-ups at Improv (he has opened for Robert Townsend and other comedians). I’m already managing a huge resources and I’m good in what I do and in making quick decisions. My entertainment experiences stretches from 10 years, reaches to several areas that I’ve specialized in from certain time frames. They can see that on my resume and I think I am a good candidate.
Is it also important that you also need to have a connection in the industry? Absolutely, what I did from my $7,000 little production, I grabbed actors that I knew and got new resources with regards to construction materials I was able to keep the cost low.
The producers of the show will only accept applications until March 26. Log on to www.tvguidechannel.com to download an application. Fill out the application, and mail it along with a bio video and reel to Magical Elves, America’s Next Producer, 2202 S. Figueroa St.; P.O. Box #406; Los Angeles, CA 90007. The show starts sometime in July.