Arthur Smith Honored by Cynopsis Media

Arthur Smith Honored by Cynopsis Media

It's still Tuesday, March 19, and as we continue our series of Special Reports Celebrating The Most Intriguing People of 2013, and the 2013 Hall of Fame, we now turn our attention to the minds driving the on-air content and shows that have changed the way people view appointment television. Our list was selected by the media industry and by Cynopsis staff, and offers a glimpse into the personalities in broadcast, cable and digital who made headlines throughout the industry. Our slate of honorees may have produced a hit series, developed a coveted lineup, overcome a difficult challenge or managed a big deal. All are leaving their mark and our Q&As with a few select recipients will offer some insight into where they came from and where they are going.


Congratulations to our honorees and we look forward to seeing what they have in store for the years ahead!

Arthur Smith, Executive Producer/Founder of A. Smith & Co. Productions

What do you think was the biggest TV biz news story of 2012?

One of the major headlines was the increasing popularity of cable programming. From Walking Dead to Pawn Stars, cable is now drawing more eyeballs than ever, and across multiple genres. For the first time ever, weekly "top 10" lists aren't filled by broadcast  but now shows from AMC, MTV, History, TNT, and others make the list. There's been a big shift in viewership; never before have we seen audience numbers on cable rival that of the broadcast networks. This story will certainly grow and evolve as cable continues to spend more money, take additional chances with programming, and make bigger investments in new formats and concepts that are fresh and different.
 
Who do you consider your mentor and why?
It's impossible for me to single out just one. There are two that I feel most indebted to  one who really got my career started and the other who gave me the opportunity to grow. Firstly, Denis Harvey, Head of CBC Sports in the 1980's, saw something in me and created a job for me as a producer at CBC sports when I was just 22.  This led to me producing major sporting events around the world including 3 Olympic Games. Six years after I started at CBC Sports, I became Head of CBC Sports at the age of 28.  My success at CBC caught the attention of my other mentor, Dick Clark.  He offered me an opportunity to transition from sports to entertainment. He secured a green card for me, moved me to Los Angeles, and with his guidance, I broadened my producing and development repertoire. We had an amazing relationship that I will cherish forever. Even after I left his company and went on to MCA Universal, FOX Sports, and opened up my own company, we remained close.

What was your first job?

Entertainment has always been my passion, and all the jobs I have ever had have been in the entertainment business. My first job was in distribution  I was a paperboy for the Montreal Gazette. My first real job in the business was a producer at CBC Radio, while I was still in school. 

What changes or trends do your foresee in the next year in our industry?

This next year will continue the "personalization of media," a trend that has been well underway for the last few years. Technology companies, content providers, distributors, and entertainment companies will all be dealing with satisfying and leveraging the growing appetite of viewers who want to watch what they want, when they want, and in a variety of ways on any of their devices. Also, without question, social media will have an even closer connection to programming content. We will see an exponential rise in content produced strictly for online viewing. Broadcast network reality departments will be searching for and experimenting with more "event" programming and looking for different, riskier ideas that separate themselves from reality programming that is available on cable. Conversely, cable programming budgets will continue to grow as networks break ratings records by redefining and broadening who they are.

What career accomplishments are you most proud of in the last year?

How A. Smith & Co. Productions continues to produce diverse, high-quality programming across a wide variety of genres. Even though we have a high volume business, we are known for our quality productions, from Hell's Kitchen, and Kitchen Nightmares, the two longest-running and most successful food shows on network television, to Unsung, the three-time NAACP Award winning documentary series, to American Ninja Warrior, a unique action-packed cable franchise that we turned into a summer hit across both broadcast and cable. I love that we work for a wide variety of networks, and our programming spans all demographics. Despite generating more than 2000 hours of unique programming for more than 40 networks, our standards and quality of programming remain high.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

My first experiences in the entertainment business weren't behind the camera, but rather, in front of it. As a teenager I acted in a couple of feature films, a handful of television shows and I hosted a video show. 

What TV do you watch on a regular basis (guilty pleasure or otherwise)?

The truth of the matter is that I have been a TV-holic my entire life. I like the wide buffet of what TV has to offer and I like to sample a little bit of everything. It's a steady high-calorie diet of all genres, but if I had to say which genre I watch more of, it would be... one-hour dramas. My favorites include Homeland, Boardwalk Empire, The Good Wife, and the venerable Law & Order: SVU. I must admit that to feed my insatiable appetite, I have televisions in virtually every room of my house, and some rooms have more than one. Kind of sick, huh?

What is the one technology you could not live without?

My laptop. It gives me the flexibility that I need with my hectic schedule; with it I am able to handle the high volume of workload from anywhere, anytime. I watch all the cuts of our shows on it, write scripts at all hours of the day and night, keep abreast of news, hammer out emails, video chat with out of town family, friends, and business associates, and even catch up on all my television viewing (I also love Slingbox). My laptop isn't perfect, however; it doesn't cook or clean, but I know someday it will.

Jim Bell, Executive Producer NBC Olympics

What do you think was the biggest TV biz news story of 2012?

How strong &resilient the business is, both on broadcast & cable alike. Every day there are more news sources & more screens but mass audiences still
watch a lot of television and this is especially the case during big events, such as a Presidential election, the Olympics, et al.

Who do you consider your mentor and why?
Dick Ebersol, a TV legend with an unmatched storytelling ability, a relentless curiosity and a love of relationships.

What was your first job?

I coached a football team in Barcelona, Spain after college. When the season ended, I got a job pushing an NBC executive (Randy Falco, now President and CEO of Univision) in a wheelchair for two weeks in Barcelona. He had been injured playing basketball but insisted on attending some important pre-Olympic meetings (this was two years before the Games). That's how I got started in television.

What changes or trends do you foresee in the next year or so in our industry?

The velocity of change, the importance of big franchises & the enhancement of the multi-screen, TV everywhere experience.

What career accomplishment are you most proud of in the past year?

The team effort put forth at the London Olympics meant that everyone shared in its success.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

Outside of a control room, the room I am happiest in is the kitchen; I love to cook.

What TV do you watch on a regular basis (guilty pleasure or otherwise?)

Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, Kathie Lee & Hoda.

What's the one technology you couldn't live without?

iPad Mini. It was an instant game changer for me.

Amy Carney, President, Advertiser Sales, Strategy and Research, Sony Pictures Television

What do you think was the biggest TV biz news story of the last year?

All the new players in original content, and non-traditional people like Starz and Netflix getting into original production. That's probably the biggest industry story. And Queen Latifah coming [back] to daytime.

Who do you consider your mentor and why?
The biggest one is Steve Mosko. I've worked for him for more than 30 yrs in many capacities. I started as an account executive and I would go with him on sales calls. He never accepted the word no. I mean, never.

What was your first job? 

As a temp sales assistant - not even fulltime! At Telerep.

What changes or trends do you foresee in the next year or so in the TV industry? 

Connected devices and no longer having linear viewing. The way we think of consumer and distributor and content has changed fundamentally. To be at a unique place like Sony in the middle of all this is very special.

What career accomplishment are you most proud of?

Two things: first is the teams I been able to build. The second is to have had a career in a rep firm, local tv, exploring Hispanic media and now being at a studio; having had all those experiences influence me today. I am so proud of it.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

That I ran three marathons. My best time was 4:36 in the Richmond marathon. My other best time was more than five hours it was a marathon I ran with my daughter. She was 17 at the time, and it was awesome. 

What TV do you watch on a regular basis?

Giants games. I am a huge fan. I never miss a game. Never.

What's the one technology you couldn't live without?

The light switch.

Marc DeBevoise, EVP & GM, Entertainment, News & Sports, CBS Interactive

What do you think was the biggest TV and/or online video biz news story of 2012?

At least for us at CBS, I would say the social media record set for the 2012 GRAMMYs. It really showed television and digital media coming together in a robust way. We saw this repeated throughout the year with the elections across multiple networks, the Super Bowl that just happened and really, last year's Super Bowl as well. These events show how much of an impact social media has had on how people interact with TV and hopefully, how social media can drive people to watch more both on TV and online.

Who do you consider your mentor and why?

First and foremost I'll say my father, who was a great businessman and a great dad. He really taught me about the nature of dealing with people ... the importance of putting out there what you want to get back from people and how important that is in both your personal life and in business.

My uncle too [Ed note: Marc's uncle is Allen DeBevoise is also on this list]. He has been a big influence on me, especially in terms of industry focus; I really admire his never-ending entrepreneurial drive.

I'd also say Neil Braun, who was my boss for a few years and the former president of NBC and Viacom Entertainment. Neil hired me at a mid-sized entertainment company (IDT Entertainment) that we eventually sold to Liberty Media and merged with Starz. He is a great sounding board for me still and taught me a lot about managing people. The biggest lesson I learned from Neil was to let people be who they are; that it's about getting the job done versus getting it done in a way that matches their boss' or peers' style.

What was your first job?

I was an investment banking analyst in New York for Hambrecht & Quist, a San Francisco-based bank that focused on media and technology.

What changes or trends do you foresee in the next year in our industry?

The digital side of the video entertainment business is growing and will continue to do so: that's the most important trend. That said, I think the unification of measurement is going to be key in the next year or so - maybe not necessarily unification, but equal view under the measurement "law." The idea that a program view is a program view across platforms; this is what we should really be looking at when measuring the popularity of content. Also, recognition that even with unified measurement, how we monetize that content may be different across platforms - it may be ads on TV or online, transactional, subscriptions, etc, and there may be different ways we measure the advertising pieces on different platforms. Overall, there needs to be some unified program/brand measurement so that we're not undercounting all the different ways that people may watch content and can drive value for and from those viewers. Consumers are demanding more access and accessing more content than ever before. We just need the measurement to enable business models to support this change.

What career accomplishment are you most proud of in the past year?

Getting the nod to run all the CBS-branded properties and online video distribution here at CBS Interactive, in particular adding CBSNews.com and CBSSports.com to CBS.com and the entertainment portfolio I ran for about a year. I'm really excited to bring those brands together and grow them with the teams we have.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

As I step into a role overseeing CBSSports.com and its related properties here at CBS Interactive, I don't think many know that I was a big sports participant throughout my life. I played college basketball at little DIII Tufts University in Boston. I still play, once a week, even though I have a repaired torn Achilles tendon from 8 or 9 years ago. It's not pretty, but it's still fun.

What TV do you watch on a regular basis (guilty pleasure or otherwise)?

I watch a wide spectrum. On CBS, How I Met Your Mother, Big Bang Theory, Blue Bloods and a number others. I'm big on the premium side with Homeland, Californication, Game of Thrones, East Bound & Down. On broadcast, I was a big Fringe fan and am bummed it's going off the air. My new broadcast fave is Happy Endings on ABC. I was a big fan of Scrubs and it is similarly crafted with same sense of humor.

What's the one technology you couldn't live without?

Easily my iPhone, although I live without it a lot since the battery dies all the time. Maybe that's because I'm on it too much.

Lauren Lexton, Executive Producer/Co-Founder, Authentic Entertainment

What do you think was the biggest TV biz news story of 2012?

Miley Cyrus cuts her hair!!! Just kidding. I'd say it's Hulu and Netflix producing original programming.

Who do you consider your mentor and why?

Arnold Shapiro.He directed Scared Straight well before reality became a genre, and hired me to produce and direct a documentary called Heroes of Iwo Jima that was incredibly close to his heart and he trusted me enough to let me call it my own.And he's just a really, really nice person. And Ronnie Weinstock, because she gave me my first job in television.

What was your first job?

Selling Christmas trees in Merion, Pennsylvania at the age of 13. Oh, in entertainment? As a research assistant on the TV show Rescue 911.

What changes or trends do you foresee in the next year or so in our industry?

Much more viewing of shows whenever and wherever the viewer wants to watch...

What career accomplishment are you most proud of in the past year?

Here Comes Honey Boo Boo!

What would people be surprised to know about you?

That I waited tables after college until my first TV job.

What TV do you watch on a regular basis (guilty pleasure or otherwise)?

30 Rock, Downton Abbey, Girls, Episodes and then crazily enough, I love to watch all of the Authentic shows when they air, especially Flipping Out! And Best Thing I Ever Made.

What's the one technology you couldn't live without?

iPhone.

Deborah McDermott, President/CEO, Young Broadcasting

What do you think was the biggest TV biz news story of 2012?

The massive volume of political advertising placed in this last election.  We benefited by having stations in four key swing states  Michigan, Virginia, Wisconsin and Iowa.  The strong demand for political advertising resulted in unprecedented spending, thanks to the recall election in Michigan, the tight presidential race, contentious state measures and the flood of Super PAC money created by the Supreme Court's decision.

Who do you consider your mentor and why?

Two of the biggest inspirations throughout my career were big advocates for women advancing in the industry: John Conomikes and Judy Girard.  John Conomikes was the President of Hearst Television when I worked for KMBC in Kansas City.  John, who capped off a distinguished 45-year broadcasting career at Hearst, counseled me on key career decisions. Judy Girard, who became a wonderful friend, has made a tremendous impact on my professional development.  I worked closely with her in my second job in 1983 as a program director when she was head of programming for our group, before she moved on to head up the Food Network and HGTV for Scripps.

What was your first job?

I was the director of promotion and public relations for KOLN-TV in Lincoln, Nebraska. I was right out of college and I had the advantage that the FCC had put a focus on having women in management. I was the only woman manager and had replaced a woman they had hired 10 years earlier. The station manager there, Paul Jensen, also made a major impact on my career. He trained me in every aspect of the business. Paul was like a second dad.  I was there eight years and did a lot of different jobs, which helped me work my way up and prepared me for my current role.

What changes or trends do your foresee in the next year or so in our industry?

Mobile is an area that will continue to grow. We plan to move ahead on expanded solutions for mobile, making sure that our viewers have access to our dedicated news coverage across a multitude of screens. More and more people are getting their news from several sources and we want to make sure they can access the trusted news that we supply over many platforms.

What career accomplishments are you most proud of in the last year?

I am especially proud of the strong comeback Young has made. Our stations have grown in ratings and share of revenue in their markets. It has paid off on the bottom line, allowing us to cement our status as one of the most financially secure station groups in the business. We recently invested $25 million in our stations, which led to a major overhaul of news production, and we are thrilled with the results.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I don't know how big a surprise it would be, because I am a very proud mom and am not ashamed to let everyone know, but during football season I'm on a plane every weekend to see my sons play. My oldest, Kevin, just graduated from UCLA after five seasons with the Bruins and my youngest, Conor, is a freshman at UCLA. I'm very much into my kids' sports and it is important to me to make sure I'm there to see them play.

What TV do you watch on a regular basis?

Obviously, I'm a TV news junkie. I love local and national news, and whenever I can I like to watch the network evening news. I'm also a big fan of Modern Family, Nashville, The Good Wife, The Mentalist, Law and Order: SVU, NCIS and Dateline.

What is the one technology you could not live without?

Broadcast TV across multiple platforms.


Neal Sabin, Co-President, Weigel Broadcasting

 
What do you think was the biggest TV biz news story of 2012?
 
The realization that the proliferation of content platforms may be jeopardizing critical economic models in our industry.
 
Who do you consider your mentor and why?
 
Norman Shapiro, my partner in crime. I learn something from him almost every day... and he buys me lunch often.
 
What was your first job?
 
Talk show producer at WIND Radio/Westinghouse Broadcasting Chicago
 
What changes or trends do your foresee in the next year or so in our industry? 
 
Continued realization that the production of good content costs significant money, and that if the public wants everything free, or with limited commercial interruptions or for a few bucks a month, we have a problem.
 
What career accomplishments are you most proud of in the last year?
 
Being part of the team that has made MeTV the number one multicast network.
 
What would people be surprised to know about you?
 
I don't watch that much TV! I'm an avid gardener and hiker.
 
What TV do you watch on a regular basis (guilty pleasure or otherwise)?
 
Dexter, Bill Maher, local news, the TV Land first-run sitcoms, Nurse Jackie. The Three Stooges and MSNBC.  (They are not to be confused)
 
What is the one technology you could not live without?
 
How do you define technology? 

Electronically speaking the phone. Otherwise, indoor plumbing.

Additional Honorees:

Rebecca Eaton, Executive Producer, MASTERPIECE on PBS
Tonia O'Connor, President, Univision
Neal Sabin, Co-President, Weigel Broadcasting
Norm Shapiro, Co-President, Weigel Broadcasting
Chuck Lorre, Creator, Producer, Writer, Two and a Half Men, Mom
Rich Frank, Co-Founder, Prospect Park
Jeff Kwatinez, Co-Founder, Prospect Park
Evan Shapiro, President, Participant Television