Unscripted

RS West ’12: How to play the field

The heads of 495 Productions, Original Productions and A Smith & Co gathered at Realscreen West yesterday to talk about "playing the field" when pitching shows to numerous networks, or "putting a little rouge on a pig," as Original Productions' CEO Thom Beers put it.
May 31, 2012

The heads of 495 Productions, Original Productions and A Smith & Co gathered at Realscreen West yesterday to talk about “playing the field” when pitching shows to numerous networks, or “putting a little rouge on a pig,” as Original Productions’ CEO Thom Beers put it.

The network side was also represented, via David McKillop, EVP, programming for A&E Network and BIO, who told the assembled audience not to spend so much time on a universally accepted tape, when producers should just call him up instead.

Moderator David Lyle, CEO of National Geographic Channels U.S., asked McKillop if he’d ever been shown tape that was clearly meant for a different network, to which the History exec said it happens more than he’d like to admit.

This got a response from 495 Productions president SallyAnn Salsano, who countered: “A lot of time, networks ask, ‘What else do you have that you’re pitching to other networks?’”

The producers on the panel also admitted that they’re very upfront if multiple networks are interested.

Said Arthur Smith, CEO of A. Smith & Co Productions: “Any time we have interest, we use it for leverage, but we never bluff.”

He also shared one of his prodco’s rules – to send paper after pitch meetings with execs, because the show idea gets better or redefined in the meetings.

“Sometimes they buy a pitch we literally didn’t sell,” added Salsano.

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 HMV.com. 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.

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