“What does a producer do?”
This is an answer that will probably never be found on Jeopardy! will be given, mainly because the answer is almost impossible to put into a few words (7 lines, max 20 characters per line) and also it’s pretty much always a different answer depending on who the producer is, the project and theirs professional background.
But I get this question often. And over time my answer has become somewhat reductive:
“I imagine TV shows or find shows that other people have come up with and then I build them. And once they are built, I oversee how they work and try to protect them.”
My television journey, as I’ve written here, began in development: first at Merv Griffin, then Disney, then ABC, then Sony, where I’ve spent a career inventing and finding new ideas for television. After a while I also started producing these ideas. Some were big hits. Some were critical hits. Others less (!) But I only ever produced what I developed. I was never given a show to produce let alone a legacy. And that’s one of the reasons why, after more than three decades in the business, the opportunity to step in and join Jeopardy! on an interim basis was such an unexpected treat.
Danger! does not have to be invented or reinvented. It’s honestly the most perfect idea, both classic and essentially modern. Its air is filled with a constant barrage of brilliant lyrics and a parade of memorable contestants. We have two gifted hosts. The team making the show are passionate about their work and committed to the daily pursuit of excellence that is Jeopardy! requires. We have a relentlessly supportive parent studio in Sony Pictures, a world-class distribution partner in CBS Media Ventures, and a collection of 214 (!!!) premier TV stations from coast to coast and everywhere in between that air our programming.
But most of all Jeopardy! has a following like nothing else I’ve seen on TV outside of sports. I’m honestly so inspired by your attention to detail and the depth of your love for the series, its legacy and its future. We don’t always agree. They don’t always agree! But we all have the same goal: to make the show we love as good as possible. Johnny’s soothing voice at the beginning of each episode literally reminds us of our history and responsibilities. I’ve always known that the job of executive producer on this show was to be a custodian of something that meant so much to so many people for so long, and to protect the work of those who created and built something so magical.
But it is also a building task. And a development task. And that’s the kind of executive producing role that’s a dream come true for a producer like me. Danger! has a tremendous opportunity to continue building, and far from being threatened by the massive changes in the media landscape, we can capitalize on the emergence of new platforms and more Jeopardy! to more audience. There is just so much more we can do together. So although I never thought I would write this…
I am pleased to announce today that I have accepted Sony’s offer to become the full-time Executive Producer of the series.
I am both honored and humbled by the trust that the studio and staff have placed in me. In the coming months, the scope of our plans will become clear. But for now I just want to thank everyone in Jeopardy! community for your phenomenal support.