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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.

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David Milch - The Idea of the Writer

by David Brownstein

This just in. David Milch, writer and creator of NYPD BLUE and my fave from last year, JOHN FROM CINCINATTI, did three days of talking about writers and writing back in December. I caught the 3rd day and left inspired. I think Milch has many great leadership qualities and I plan to write about what observed in him soon. (Actually I’ve already written it, but will post it soon.)

Anyhow. Here’s the link to watch these online. Warning. It’s not a very linear talk, but he accesses and shares his genius with generosity and love.

Oprah Winfrey on Leadership

by David Brownstein

Hi there, Just saw this interview with Oprah in The Hollywood Reporter. I’ve excerpted the most interesting parts.

What intrigues me is that she outlines the changes that occur when creative people start a business, that becomes successful and impactful. We’re all challenged with learning new skills and habits as our organization grows. Read on for what Oprah learned from her 29 meals with Nelson Mandela.

PS: I’ll be curious to see what any of you think about this. Agree, Disagree? I’m not sure I agree with her final comments about doubt. What do you think?


Hollywood Reporter: As you grew up, did anyone mentor you, especially in the business arena?

Winfrey: I didn’t have a lot of mentors, you know? I happened into being a businesswoman. It has never been a goal of mine, and I wouldn’t necessarily even say it’s a strength of mine.

But you’ve been so successful in business.

I have to really work at it. I have to work at disciplining myself. The business of the business tires me out. What I would rather do is just stand out there, in front of the camera — or not in front of the camera, ‘cause it doesn’t matter to me if I’m talking to a flight attendant or an audience of 10 million people — about concepts, ideas, principles that cause people to have these "Aha!" moments. That is what I am. At heart, I am a teacher. But I’ve made a lot of mistakes.

Can you name any?

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HRTS Network Chiefs Luncheon – The Lessons of Bad Leadership

by David Brownstein

Just returned from the Network Chiefs Luncheon at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. On the panel was Stephen McPherson of ABC, Dawn Ostroff of CW, Kevin Reilly of Fox, Ben Silverman of NBC, and Nina Tassler of CBS.

This annual event brings together the top creative executives of each of the broadcast networks and is truly has the potential to hear smart, creative, opinionated leaders discussing what’s happening in Television at this particular moment.

Unfortunately, the moderator of this event was Barry Sonnenfeld, film director and exec producer of “Pushing Daisies.” Here are my brief comments on the event.

1) Barry Sonnenfeld: Worst moderator ever. Here he was sitting in front of 1000 people moderating a discussion with among most powerful TV execs in Hollywood and he could barely get out a question. He talked primarily about himself, was not very knowledgeable about the business, and worst of all, barely gave the panel a chance to talk. Except for the occasional wisecrack or quip.

A journalist at my table said, half joking: “I love Pushing Daisies but now I almost want the show to fail.” I know what she means.

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"Challenge Day" on Oprah

by David Brownstein

Check out Oprah today for a one-hour show dedicated to the incredible “Challenge Days” program. I assisted at a Challenge Day a few years ago and got to support and witness 500 high school seniors go through an amazing transformation in about 8 hours.

Created by Yvonne St. John Dutra and Rich Dutra St. John this is truly a world changing, life changing program. If you missed it today go to HERE to see a clip and then go to the Challenge Day website to see how to bring a Challenge Day to your community.

Executive Coach, David Brownstein, is Developing Hollywood Leaders

by David Brownstein

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Los Angeles, California. October, 2006: “Hollywood is great at developing products, but not so great at developing leaders,” says David Brownstein, founder and president of Hollywood Coaching.

To this end, Brownstein announces Inside the Leadership Studio, his step-by-step coaching program, which develops essential leadership skills for executives, management teams and companies. To head writers, show runners and their teams, Brownstein brings the aptly named, War and Peace in the Writer’s Room. In the words of a recent client, “David is like a wrecking ball with heart; like having in one person, an Olympic trainer, a therapist, a dance partner, a guru and a member of the Spanish Inquisition.”

Designed specifically for the entertainment industry, Brownstein’s executive coaching and leadership development programs are changing the way writers, executives and producers define what it takes to be a leader in Hollywood.

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War and Peace in the Writer's Room

by David Brownstein

I’m finally announcing my new program for Television Head Writers, Show Runners and Executive Producers called “War and Peace in the Writer’s Room.” It’s designed for teams of creative people to sharpen their leadership skills and get their team in sync.

It’s not for everyone, but I look forward to hearing your thoughts and welcome your support in getting this program to the hard working folks who’ll benefit from this. Thanks!


Head Writers
Show Runners
Executive Producers
Network Executives

  • What is the COST of a dysfunctional writer’s room?
  • What could your team create if you dramatically improved your own LEADERSHIP skills?
  • Wouldn’t it be cool to spend LESS TIME AT THE OFFICE and more time with your family?

Transform your team, your career and your life with:

War and Peace in the Writer’s Room

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Did Stephen Colbert Inspire Al Gore?

by David Brownstein

Stephen Colbert’s appearance at the President Bush Roast, I mean, White House correspondent’s dinner a few weeks ago has truly blown me away.

I’d recently become a fan on Colbert’s new character in the past few months once I started to record it on my DVR and watch during the day. When all my brain cells were firing I could better grasp/handle/digest the complexity of his writing and performance. (I loved Colbert on the Daily Show, but it’s taken me a while to get this new show.)

Anyhow. His WHC appearance was one of the boldest acts of political performance, comedy or satire in many years. Sitting 10 feet away from our uncomfortable Commander in Chief, Colbert spoke the truth, indirectly. He skewered the political distortions and untruth’s through comedy. Truly playing the fool, he said what few in America have the guts (or opportunity) to say in public. That he was unhappy with the president, the press, the war and the state of the country.

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Coaching on The Today Show - Media Blitz Continues

by David Brownstein

The Daily Show, The New York Times, and now The Today Show. The media blitz on Life Coaching continued today with a great interview from Laura Berman Fortgang on the Today Show on NBC. They did a wonderful little set up piece with a clip from Nip/Tuck showing the strange life coach played by Famke Jannsen, and then cut to a live interview by Al Roker with the great and powerful LBF.

Laura’s a great coach who’s been an inspiration to me and many others. She’s really clear, direct, and able to speak great about life coaching, what it is and what it isn’t.

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Coaching Skewered by The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

by David Brownstein

File Under: No such thing as bad publicity department.

Jon Stewart’s Daily Show did a "hard hitting, no holds barred expose" on my profession. We, the hard working underappreciated "Life Coaches" of the world. Are we as easy targets as Jon’s "Trend Watch" correspondent portrayed us?

Um, well. Probably. Ok. Definitely!

Truth be told, I laughed through the entire segment. I felt sorry for the poor life coach being "interviewed" by the young, sarcastic cynic/comic, but there’s no getting around it. It was funny, and for a variety of reasons, even the phrase "life coach" can easily be made to sound silly. And the absurdity of coaches coaching coaches to become coaches is an unfortunate, but true irony/tragedy of our industry.

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American Idol (Part 2)

by David Brownstein

Hi there. Have to somewhat revise my comments re: Simon Cowell. I said in my WebMD interview that he was accurate but had no bedside manner. Maybe this was because I had never seen any of the “audition” sequences on Idol, only the later shows of a season, where the contestants are all pretty good. I watched the new season open this week and must say that he’s seems to be quite mean and cruel at times. Yeah, he’s trying to make it into good television, and as one of the founders and creators he’s got a “TV producers” vested interest in making shows have drama, and having the contestants walk away in tears.

So, he is what he is, and it makes for fascinating, if annoying, television. Anyhow. Just needed to say that now I see the “truth.” Simon is not a nice guy.

American Idol?

by David Brownstein

Had a brief phone call with a writer from WebMD today. Her editors wanted to know if participants  on American Idol were unstable.

Au contraire, I believe.

American Idol participants are exercising their Constitutionally Granted rights  to take the risk  of going for their dream. And we get watch them on their  journey and hopefully they inspire us to take some grand chance in our  life. And hopefully we’ll have someone as supportive as  Paula Abdul finding nice things to say about your performance or our  dance moves, before Simon knocks us down with the cold water of cold, but possibly true, waters of reality check.

Over the course of the 12 weeks  or so of a season, we get to see people improve, learn, risk, fail, cry and rebound. We get to see what happens when a person with raw talent and potential work  hard to create the vision of themselves that they want to become.

I believe, that it’s actually unhealthy to sit at home, telling ourselves that we can never have the lives we want, that we can never reach the heights we want, that we should sit down, shut up and not  take the risk of going on TV and possibly  making an American Fool of ourselves.

Carrie Underwood, Bo Bice, and  William Hung sing for all of us, whether we admit it or not. We all want our moment in the spotlight, whether literally or metaphorically.

Long live the United States of American Idol.

Check out the WebMD article here.