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The New Hollywood Leader

7 Things Jon Heder Needs To Know To Run His TV Show

by David Brownstein

Another Funny Man Steps Into the Big Leagues

I read in the NY Times about Jon Heder  (Napoleon Dynamite, etc.) getting a contract to develop 100 episodes of a TV series for Comedy Central. (Starting with 10 episodes, of course.)

I've never met him and don't know any of the parties involved, but what I do know is this:

He has no idea what he's in for.

How Do I Know?

In the NY Times article Jon said: "They kept asking me "Are you you ready for this?" I said, "I'm like, 'Should I be?' I haven't thought this through."

This heart-warming exchange demonstrates a common and dangerous dynamic in Hollywood.

First: A team of smart executives recognize a major talent and make a deal for the talent to take an ambitious and smart next step.

Then: While they actually do know the traps, obstacles and banana peels that will likely challenge this creative genius, they are unwilling or more likely unable to articulate, prepare or arm their bold adventurer for his or her journey.

Into The Woods

I'm not saying the creative genius isn't ready or shouldn't embark on this journey into the deep dark woods of TV production. And I'm not faulting the execs for their vision, their deal or their last minute warning/trepidation.

This dynamic is happening all over Hollywood whether it's Burbank, Studio City, Culver City, Television City or Manhattan Beach.

A Great Team Is A Given

And I'm not talking about the creative vision, great jokes, characters, stories or dialogue. A great team will be assembled to support that part.

If Other Dynamics Don't Screw It Up

But it's other areas, rarely discussed or mentioned in Hollywood television circles, that can make the difference between a synergistic, creative/production team and a cluster-f*ck of meetings, notes, headaches, delays, overages and disasters.

Lousy Leadership Skills

Have you been there?

I have.

I know there are seven areas where Jon will be challenged as a creative leader of a show (and probably you and your creative team will too).

So, Here are…

The Seven Skills Of A Successful Showrunner

  1. How to select, manage and empower a writing/creative team.
  2. How to navigate, manage and appreciate your teams of executives.
  3. How to collaborate, negotiate and get mentoring from your Co-executive Producer.
  4. How to win respect, favor and autonomy from your network/studio President.
  5. How to get the best from your actors and keep them working for you rather than the other way around.
  6. How to develop loyalty and respect from your below-the-line crew and keep them motivated to solve your innovative creative ideas.
  7. How to develop a unique leadership presence that is true to who you are, but helps you establish develop and maintain your power and authority all the time: even when you don't know what they hell you're doing!

Yeah, Obviously

In fact, these are old problems and old complaints. But what's new is my approach to developing Creative Leaders that can solve these problems and stop them from derailing a show in production.

Here's How We Can Start

In future articles I'll discuss each area individually with specific tips to help any creative leader develop their ability to manage the many-headed monster that is running an ongoing TV show (or any large creative project.)

Talk To Me Now

And if you want to meet to discuss your new TV team or creative leader I'm available to help you guarantee the success of your leadership team.

David Brownstein, PCC, CPCC.
Career Strategy + Leadership Development
For Creative Business

PS: Here's the link to the NY Times Article about Jon.

PPS: For more details about my work with showrunners go here.

AND: For a video clip of me talking about leadership
development and the TV industry go here.

What'd You Think?

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