TV showrunners roundtable: ‘Abbott Elementary,’ ‘Daily Show,’ ‘Minx,’ ‘Schmigadoon,’ ‘What We Do in the Shadows’
Being a showrunner requires expert time-management and organizational skills, leadership qualities, and a good sense of self even when it might be anathema to your personality – this is according to top executive producers who spoke to Gold Derby as part of our Meet the Experts showrunners roundtable group panel. Watch the exclusive video interview above.
“I constantly suffer from impostor syndrome and fraud complex,” Patrick Schumacker, an executive producer on ABC’s “Abbott Elementary,” says. “But several writers with much better and much healthier perspectives told me that at the end of the day, everybody wants you to do a job and is rooting for you. So, don’t panic. It’s all part of the facilitator’s role. But I am someone who does have a tendency to constantly panic. And I think over time, I’ve had to unlearn that and not just assume that everybody is out to get me. Probably.”
Schumacker was one of five showrunners to speak with Gold Derby about the pressures of creating television in 2022, along with Jennifer Flanz (Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah”), Ellen Rapoport (HBO Max series “Minx”), Cinco Paul (Apple TV+ comedy “Schmigadoon!”) and Stefani Robinson (FX show “What We Do in the Shadows”). Click on each name above to watch that person’s individual interview.
“If it feels like we’re having fun in the building, then it’s going to translate to the screen,” Flanz, a seven-time Emmy winner for “The Daily Show,” says. “To make a show every day, you need to have a good time doing it.”
For Rapoport, she tries to keep the “calamities” to a manageable number. “At some point, I was told that production would just be a rolling series of calamities and that I should reset my mindset and not expect things to be good, ever,” she says. “There will be like a certain number of calamities a day. If I was under that number it was a success.”
Paul, a first-time showrunner, says the best advice he received was making sure to lift up his support staff. “You take all the blame and give everyone else all the credit that you can and because ultimately you’re gonna get your fair share of credit [as showrunner],” he says. “So spread the wealth as much as you can.”
Robinson, a four-time Emmy nominee for both “What We Do in the Shadows” and “Atlanta,” adds that leading from the top is paramount. “Ultimately, when you are put in this position it’s almost like you’re running your own company. And it is really up to you to sort of set the tone,” she says. “To be very clear about your boundaries… when there is a crisis. This is how we respond.”