HOLLYWOOD 50 Top TV Showrunners of 2023 – The Hollywood...

50 Top TV Showrunners of 2023 – The Hollywood Reporter


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When Hollywood writers returned to work after the historic 148-day WGA strike that hobbled the entertainment industry, they did so having made desirable gains — staffing minimums, performance-based residuals and AI assurances, huzzah! Unfortunately, even a choice new contract couldn’t prevent what the boy who cried “Peak TV,” FX boss John Landgraf, has been predicting for years. The great content contraction is finally here. “Once in a generation, a work meteorite hits this town and everyone has to rebuild,” says Greg Berlanti, one megaproducer who was not alone in losing more than a few series from his roster in the past 11 months.

With the exception of 2020, when the pandemic kneecapped TV production, 2023 is on track to wrap as the first year in more than two decades in which the total number of original U.S. scripted series shrinks, after maxing out at 600 the previous year. Other signs of this post-peak reckoning are everywhere. Conglomerates have folded platforms together, reducing buyers; nine-figure overall deals are no longer being handed out freely; episodic budgets are shrinking; and cancellations and even platform scrubbing can happen at any moment — sacrifices at the altar of corporate tax write-offs. “Nobody is immune from content deletion,” says Alex Kurtzman, who saw his Star Trek: Prodigy move from Paramount+ to Netflix. “And if I allowed that to consume my thinking, I’d never create another show.”

“I think these companies are realizing what their limits are,” offers P-Valley creator Katori Hall, whose own platform, Starz, axed nearly a third of its slate in the days following the strike’s resolution. “Everybody and they mama can’t be Netflix.”

One thing this dire marketplace can’t seem to dampen, however, is an optimism for the medium that these scribes cemented over five months on the picket lines. Hell, if Suits can become the most popular show of the summer four years after going off the air, what isn’t possible? So, as THR takes its annual census of TV’s most powerful showrunners — the writer-producers making culturally relevant, widely watched series and still selling against the odds — they chimed in on strike lessons, IP envy, Hollywood predictions and silver linings to all of this tumult. “When in doubt, we go back to basics: finding stories and people who inspire us,” says Berlanti. “It’s going to take extra effort to convince people to open their checkbooks, but the original ideas that viewers connect with will still pay huge dividends.”


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