US: Original Productions

Original Productions
April 1, 2006

Original Productions
Burbank, US

Whether it’s souped-up choppers, plastic surgery or ghost hunters, Burbank-based Original Productions knows what the cable nets want. Since he co-founded the company in 1999, CEO Thom Beers has led Original Productions to become one of the leading suppliers of non-fiction television in the US. How does he keep anticipating what viewers want to watch? ‘The key is that I was an executive myself,’ he says. ‘I spent 11 years learning the cable industry as VP of series and specials at Turner Broadcasting. That gave me a strong understanding of demographics and flow. Also, I have a background in theater as a director and playwright, so I learned how to tell a story.’

Beers also knows what sort of story he likes to tell – and it’s usually geared towards young males. At a time when cable nets are scrambling to attract that elusive demographic, Beers has been able to deliver hit shows that get the ratings. ‘I don’t know why that is, other than it was probably psychedelic abuse in my early days that rewired my brain,’ he jokes. ‘But seriously, I was also just born with a sense of curiosity.’

He says he goes with his gut instinct most of the time. ‘When I see something cool, I grunt like a caveman. It really is that simple. We love doing cool stuff.’ What’s cool to Beers is transformation. ‘Whether it’s auto mechanics or surgery or whatever, I think there’s a curiosity for metamorphosis out there.’

Recent titles: Monster Garage, The Deadliest Catch
Employees: 50 full-time, more on contract
Hours this year: 115
Upcoming includes: Dead Tenants (TLC), Biker Build-Off 2006 (Discovery Channel), Dangerous Seasons (Discovery), Career Criminal Squads w/t, Holiday Madness (TLC), The Messengers (TLC)

About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.