Welcome to part two of our previous article about TV executive titles. This article will discuss the upper-level roles so you can feel prepared before heading into a big meeting. Let’s dive right in!
In part one of this article, we covered the basics, but let’s just do a quick refresher. And if you haven’t checked out part one yet where we cover the roles of Assistants, Coordinators, and Creative Executives, be sure to get caught up by reading here.
Executives can be found in both feature departments and in TV departments. In TV, sometimes the departments are split into Scripted and Unscripted. Since in our last article we covered the entry-level roles, in this article we will focus on the upper executive roles, specifically in the Scripted Development department.
The Scripted Development department reads and evaluates new scripts they are looking to develop and ultimately get on the air. Before we jump into things, note that these descriptions are simplified. Each role goes above and beyond what's written below.
In scripted development, managers manage all aspects of the development of a show. Their duties include managing and working directly with the showrunner to streamline the show's season, giving notes on pilots and signing off on it before it goes into production. Managers hear pitches and play a role in deciding if a show is worth their boss hearing about.
The next step up from Manager. If you do your job well, Directors are promoted to VP's. Directors do exactly what Managers do but usually for more shows. The same rules apply to Senior Vice Presidents (SVPs). They may sit in on pitch meetings as well.
EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT
The head of the creative department. The EVP reports directly to the President of the Network and works with the EVP of programming to make sure that the shows they are buying and developing fits with the brand of the company. Most likely, new writers will not get face time with EVP’s.
Sometimes new, hybrid roles can be created. Let’s look at the trajectory of TV executive heavy-weight Odetta Watkins. Watkins first joined Warner Bros. in 2002 as director of current programs, rising to the rank of executive vice president of current programs, cable & streaming. In 2021, when Amazon restructured its streaming executive ranks, Watkins was brought on in the newly created role of Head of Drama Series. This industry is fluid and can literally change overnight. Don’t get too bogged down on knowing every single name of every single executive at every company.
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Depending upon the company, the roles may be more specific with which level execs take pitch meetings and if the development department is separate from current programming, or if all of the execs do a little of both. The same is true for smaller entities that have their execs covering scripted and unscripted.
We know this can all sound a little overwhelming, so let’s keep it simple! It’s smart to know who everyone is, but spend your time getting buddy-buddy with the Assistants and Managers (and the titles in between) who are closer to your level and more likely to read your screenplay.
Want to dive deeper into the nature of the business for a professional screenwriter? Schedule an Industry Jam Session to chat with our CEO and Head Consultant, Shannan E. Johnson, and get the real tea on the industry and your scriptwriting career.