Carlton Cuse is the busiest man in television. He was a showrunner on “Bates Motel,” which just wrapped its five-year run on A&E, as well as “The Strain,” which ended after four seasons on FX, in addition to the second season of “Colony” on USA and the first season of “Jack Ryan,” which is about to start on Amazon. In addition, his “Locke & Key” project was ordered to pilot by Hulu and he just signed a $20 million development deal with ABC. In 2005, Cuse won an Emmy for producing “Lost” for the alphabet network. He recently appeared at the 36th Vancouver International Film Festival to talk about the highs and lows of running shows.
The first show that he oversaw was “The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.” in 1993, which had 27 episodes in its first season. That is quite the contrast to the emerging less-is-more production model. As Cuse observed, “I will spend three years of my life making eight hours of ‘Jack Ryan’,” referring to the Amazon series that recently filmed in Montreal, D.C., Morocco and Paris.
Although Tom Clancy’s “Jack Ryan” novels have been adapted into five films starring the likes of Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, Ben Affleck and Chris Pine in the part, Cuse believes that their complexity is better suited to television. “The books themselves have this wonderful mosaic storytelling form,” he explained. Amazon is reportedly spending $8 million per episode of “Jack Ryan,” twice the budget of “Lost,” which was famously expensive when it aired a decade ago.
Regarding the changing TV landscape, Cuse said (watch above), “As a creator, you basically try to make good shows and you try to find a home for them and the streaming model has been really fantastic in terms of creating opportunity, eliminating content restrictions, providing rich funding that allows someone like me as a creator to really put my vision on the screen with everything I imagine.”
The peak television era claimed a casualty earlier this year when A&E announced that it was closing its doors on original scripted programing once signature series “Bates Motel” went off the air. Cuse explained, “People have a limited capacity for what they can watch, so if you have Hulu and Amazon and principally Netflix in the streaming world and soon maybe Apple, something’s got to give. It’s going to take a bite out of traditional linear television. Some of those companies are going to struggle to succeed in the changing environment.”
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