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Whedonesque - a community weblog about Joss Whedon
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April 23 2014

Clip of 'Showrunners' doc unveiled at Wonder Con '14. "...The first feature length film to explore the rising power of the TV showrunner and the behind the scenes process that goes into making a hit show."

This project raises more questions than it answers. Is 'showrunner' a thing now?
As opposed to before?
'Producer', 'Executive Producer' Those AREN'T things now? There are good people listed (and unlisted) there-just wondering how it got to be docu-worthy.
Although show runner is a known *position,* it is not - so far as I know - a *title* in the credits. These are the producers who run the writers' room, versus the producers who are involved in setting up the project but then aren't hands on during production, or who are hands-on but are on the production side, or who have the producer title but are actually staff writers. There have always been show runners, but a little more light is being shone on them nowadays.
I have been watching The Dick Van Dyke show (which Joss' grandfather John wrote for) which is part work-comedy set at a behind the scenes of a hit comedy show. They have done some episodes which focuses on the role of the writer. In the show Rob Petrie is head writer and has nothing to do with production. Mel is a producer and Alan Brady is a star who gets all the credit. With documentaries like "Showrunner" it becomes either much clearer how things have changed from the television of the past or clarifies representations of television production which have been broadcast to the public.

As Shapenew points out not all showrunners are writers very rarely directors have been showrunners as well.
If it's not clear showrunning as it a thing (it's what joss did for, like, 10 years) then there needs a documentary about it.
Shapenew makes an important point that the showrunner is not a credited title. While the showrunner does tend to be an EP there are other EPs usually credited who maybe directors, fellow writers or just network executives.

The first time I heard the term showrunner mentioned was Al Jean talking about his role on the Simpsons and he made it seems as if the role was more like a go-for for higher executives.

I feel the showrunner documentary will be important to those who want to join Hollywood and create a successful career.
Fair enough. I guess the title 'The Producers' was already taken, anyway.
I'm looking forward to hearing more about this. I hadn't heard that showrunners had any particular 'rise in power' recently, so it would be interesting to hear about that. Now that I think of it, it makes sense that with most of scripted TV having serial elements and character continuity, the lead writers would need more control to make it work. I wonder if this 'golden age of TV' people keep talking about could have happened without powerful creatives running the show. (Just my ramblings.)
I don't think "The Dick Van Dyke Show" was meant to be a literal representation of how TV shows worked behind the scenes, unless - and this is entirely possible - things have changed greatly behind the scenes. Nowadays, the head of the writers' room on a TV show would definitely be the show runner.
One of the Doctor Who writers (I believe it was Chris Chibnal talking about making Broadchurch) talked about who "showrunner culture" does not exist in England where the lead writer is just the head writer and is not also in charge of production. It is the leverage of being in charge of production, putting the product on the screen, that the DW writer pointed to as the power necessary to make great television. This distinction I feel is important.
I think by U.S. terminology standards, Steven Moffat is the show runner on "Doctor Who."
It is a weird phenomenon that a writer with a good idea can be given a job where they have to allocate millions of dollars.
Bunnies-maybe we should all watch this docu together. A writer with a 'good idea' cannot be trusted not to blow through the production budget on the pilot. If that were not the case-There would be no need for EPs. I can't speak for everyone listed, but Joss and the like have transcended 'writer.'

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