TV Producers: 2010’s Biggest Winners and Losers (Video)

In the fall ratings war, the networks aren’t the only winners and losers. Writers, actors and producers have much to gain in success, and a lot to lose in failure.

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Among producers, perhaps the highest profile loser this season is J.J. Abrams. He was the creative force behind NBC’s Undercovers, the fall’s most anticipated new drama, which failed to get a back-nine order. The spy drama was most notable for starring two nonwhite actors. But diversity notwithstanding, the series never was able to self-start in its Wednesday 8 p.m. time slot.

Another relative loser is Jerry Bruckheimer. After all, Bruckheimer TV continues to produce The Amazing Race and the three CSI shows—all on hot network CBS. But ABC chose not to order more episodes of legal drama The Whole Truth. And TNT canceled its undercover cop drama Dark Blue, which failed to grow in its second season. What’s more, after ordering a full season of the FBI drama Chase, NBC reportedly just reduced the number of episodes to 18 from 22. 

Perhaps the most recent loser is Shawn Ryan, executive producer of the FX series Terriers. Whereas Ryan’s previous series like The Shield and The Unit were gritty, muscular, action-based dramas, Terriers was a bit lighter in tone and a tougher sell to viewers. The offbeat, buddy detective show ended its freshman season earlier this month, and within the week, reports surfaced that it would not be renewed. 

Of course, cable did produce some winners this fall.

First and foremost is Martin Scorsese, executive producer of Boardwalk Empire. After the premiere drew 4.8 million viewers, HBO quickly ordered a second season of the period mob drama—and deservedly so. Because what’s made the Prohibition era–set show so compelling is that it’s become less about the mob and more about the period. 

Another winner among film-to-TV transplants is Frank Darabont, executive producer of AMC’s zombie drama The Walking Dead. Like HBO, AMC quickly renewed the series for a second season, after the premiere drew 5.3 million viewers. Now, Darabont—who wrote and directed 1999’s The Green Mile—reportedly has ordered changes in season two’s writing staff, perhaps even eliminating the writing staff altogether, opting instead to rely on freelancers. It sounds a bit egomaniacal.

But British programs like Torchwood have thrived with similar strategies. Let’s just hope the loser in all this isn’t executive producer Robert Kirkman, who created the comic book series on which the TV show is based.

Watch the entire “Winners and Losers” series below:

Winners and Losers, Pt. 1

Winners and Losers, Pt. 2

Winners and Losers: Fall 2010

Winners and Losers: Late-Night Talkers

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