RSW ’14: Revisiting the “creative crisis,” four months on

Four months after a headline-grabbing comment at the Realscreen Summit sparked a global discussion about creativity in the U.S. unscripted landscape, producers and commissioners at Realscreen West offered their two cents. (Photo: Rahoul Ghose)
June 8, 2014

Is there a “horrible creative crisis” in U.S. unscripted television?

Four months on from Lifetime EVP and general manager Robert Sharenow’s headline-generating statement at the Realscreen Summit, panelists at Realscreen West’s ‘Refreshing Reality’ session offered a mixed verdict.

The June 4 panel, moderated by NHNZ’s exec VP of development and production Phil Fairclough, comprised a variety of top-tier producers and network execs.

For Bunim/Murray Productions chairman Jonathan Murray (pictured, right) there was no creative crisis. However, All3Media America chairman Stephen Lambert saw things differently, stating that “I think there is a bit of a crisis.”

Lambert offered that while scripted drama – shows such as Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad and House of Cards – was clearly enjoying a golden age, “it’s hard to point to the same kind of exciting working in non-scripted.”

The American market, he added, was worse than the UK because “there tends to be more rules and cautiousness, and a need to know what is going to happen.”

CAA agent Alan Braun landed somewhere in the middle of the debate. He offered that “right now it’s a great time in reality,” but said that too many networks were focused on their bottom lines. “When profits come first and creativity comes second, that hurts.”

For his part, Sharenow (pictured, left) said that he thought the recent wave of prodco consolidation would likely have an impact on creativity in the sector, joking that Lambert and Leftfield Entertainment CEO Brent Montgomery – both of whose companies have been subject to recent takeovers – would be “teaming up to do a show called Not so Secret Millionaire.”

TLC GM Nancy Daniels, meanwhile, framed the reality sector as being in a constant state of evolution.

“The reality genre is maturing,” she said. “There was a while there – a heyday – when anything you put on was fresh and new. But not everything’s going to work now.”

The session also saw Sharenow unveiling details of two new Lifetime titles, as previously reported.

(Photo: Rahoul Ghose)

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