A television producer is a person who oversees one or more aspects of video production on a television program. Some producers take more of an executive role, in that they conceive new programs and pitch them to the television networks, but upon acceptance they focus on business matters, such as budgets and contracts. Other producers are more involved with the day-to-day workings, participating in activities such as screenwriting, set design, casting and directing.
There are a variety of different producers on a television show. A traditional producer is one who manages a show's budget and maintains a schedule, but this is no longer the case in modern television.
Types of television producers
Different types of producers in the industry today include (in order of seniority):
- The showrunner is the "chief executive" in charge of everything related to the production of the show. It is the highest ranking individual who is responsible for the production and daily management of the show. In fictional television, they supervise the writing room as well.
Established show creators with prior writing credits are often given the title of executive producer, even after they depart the show. Executive producers can be showrunners, head writers, the head of a production company, or a long-time writer for the show.
- Near seniority to the executive producers, these producers serve as "chief operating officers" by managing above and below-the-line staff. In fictional shows, they have also contributed significantly in the writing room through table reads, discussions, and/or revisions. The co-executive producer may pen scripts as well.
- In fictional shows, these producers assist in the creative process by engaging in table discussions, aiding in script rewrites, and also guiding new writers. In reality shows, they are often series directors who supervise other directors.
- In fictional shows, a producer may not have written the episode, but contributed significantly through table reads, discussions, and/or revisions. They may also be a former executive producer who still writes for the show, but has since relinquished his/her duties as E.P. Producers responsible for production logistics are given the credit of "produced by."
- In fictional shows, a co-producer may not have written the episode, but contributed significantly through table reads, discussions, and/or revisions.
- The term is only used when the staff are working simultaneously on multiple shows. In such scenario, this producer coordinates their various tasks for them and places them into teams.
Consulting producer, executive consultant, or production consultant
- They consult certain aspects for the series. These producers are sometimes former executive producers or directors, who no longer work on the show, but are hired to consult for the production, nonetheless. They are usually called upon to assist the writers.
- Many television series that have a large in-house writing staff will usually have a few writers given the title of consulting producer, despite their day-to-day presence being no different from that of any other writer on staff. In these cases, the deal made with that writer does not meet the rules required to give them one of the titles from co-producer to executive producer. Examples include the writer not being required to be in-office five days a week, the writer's services being non-exclusive, or the writer's pay quote being too high for the responsibilities a more defined producer title might entail. Consulting producers like these are still assigned script drafts to write along with the rest of the series writing staff.
- Serves any of the producer job functions at the request of the showrunner.
- Sources contributors and stories for the reality program.
- For news and talk show production, locates and schedules (or "chases") guests for interviews.
- Writes one segment of a reality program.
- In charge of the unit production manager, these producers find staff to employ and manage their pay checks. Most line producers receive the "produced by" title, as they tend to also be responsible for production logistics.
- In reality shows only. Selects areas to film (outside of a television studio) and coordinates stories for a production in the field. They also form a trusting relationship with the cast/participants in order to get interviews while in the field. They may fill a number of different roles, including production manager/coordinator, videographer, and also production assistant.
- Helps co-ordinate the edit by working with the editor and relaying information from other producers. Involved in creating stories and writing the script if necessary.
Post-production producer or post-production coordinator
- Responsible for the overall post-production process, including editing, dubbing, and grading, and are managed by the post-production supervisor.
In live television or "as-live", an executive producer seldom has any operational control of the show. His/her job is to stand back from the operational aspects and judge the show as an ordinary viewer might.
In film or video productions, the executive producer is almost always given an opportunity to comment on a rough cut, but the amount of attention paid to his/her comments is highly dependent on the overall personnel structure of the production.
Writer as "producer"
Because of the restrictions the Writers Guild of America screenwriting credit system places on writing credits, many script writers in television are credited as "producers" instead, even though they may not engage in the responsibilities generally associated with that title. On-screen, a "producer" credit for a TV series will generally be given to each member of the writing staff who made a demonstrable contribution to the final script. The actual producer of the show (in the traditional sense) is listed under the credit "produced by".
Bill Lawrence, a television screenwriter, producer, director and series creator (Scrubs, Cougar Town and Spin City) explained during an interview on Off Camera that:
... the end credits of a TV show, it will say Staff Writer, Story Editor, Executive Story Editor, Co-Producer, Producer, Supervising Producer, Co-Executive Producer, Executive Producer. (While) (s)omeone else will (also) be Executive Producer because they help to run the room, every other title is just ... writer who's been here one year, writer who's been here two years, writer who's been here three years, ... and it's just a pay scale.
Star as "producer"
Sometimes the star of a successful television series can have a degree of influence over the creative process. For example, besides his leading role as Jack Bauer in 24, Kiefer Sutherland was credited as producer during the show's second season, then rising to co-executive producer from season 3 to the last few episodes of season 5, from where he was finally promoted to executive producer. Claire Danes, the star of Homeland, also produces the show. Mark Harmon, star of the series NCIS, serves as one of the show's producers. Similarly, Tom Welling, the star of the CW show Smallville, became co-executive producer for the show in season 9 and executive producer in season 10. House star Hugh Laurie became co-executive producer for the show in its sixth season. Holly Marie Combs and Alyssa Milano, the stars of Charmed, became producers of the show in its fifth season. Ellen Pompeo on Grey's Anatomy became a producer in season 14.
Notable television producers
- J. J. Abrams: Alias, Lost, Fringe, Person of Interest
- Mara Brock Akil: The Game, Girlfriends
- David Angell: Frasier, Wings, Cheers
- Desi Arnaz: I Love Lucy (1952-1956), Those Whiting Girls, The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour (1957-1960), The Fountain of Youth, The Texan, The Ann Sothern Show (1958-1961), New Comedy Showcase, The Untouchables (1961-1962), The Lucy Show (1962-1963), The Mothers-In-Law (1967-1969), Land's End
- Alan Ball: Six Feet Under, True Blood
- Chuck Barris: The Dating Game, The Gong Show, The Newlywed Game, Treasure Hunt
- Biddy Baxter: Blue Peter (1962-65; editor 1965-1988)
- Thom Beers: Deadliest Catch, Lobster Wars, numerous other Discovery Channel series
- Bradley Bell: The Bold and the Beautiful (1995-present) 
- William J. Bell: The Young and the Restless (1973-2005), The Bold and the Beautiful (1987-1995) 
- Donald P. Bellisario: Magnum, P.I., Airwolf, JAG, NCIS, Quantum Leap
- Rick Berman: Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager, Star Trek: Enterprise
- Eric Bischoff: WCW Monday Nitro
- Linda Bloodworth-Thomason: Designing Women, Evening Shade, Hearts Afire
- Andy Bobrow: Community, Malcolm in the Middle
- Steven Bochco: Hill Street Blues, L.A. Law, NYPD Blue
- Yvette Lee Bowser: Living Single, A Different World, For Your Love, Half and Half
- Kevin S. Bright: Friends, Veronica's Closet, Jesse, Joey
- James L. Brooks: The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Rhoda, Taxi, The Simpsons, The Tracey Ullman Show
- Jerry Bruckheimer: The Amazing Race, Cold Case, CSI, Without a Trace
- Mark Burnett: The Apprentice, Survivor, Rock Star, Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?, The Contender, The Voice, Beat Shazam, The World's Best
- Stephen J. Cannell: The Rockford Files, 21 Jump Street, The A-Team, Hunter
- Marcy Carsey: 3rd Rock from the Sun, The Cosby Show, Roseanne
- Chris Carter: The X-Files, Millennium, Harsh Realm, The Lone Gunmen
- Shaun Cassidy: American Gothic, Invasion, Ruby & The Rockits
- Ilene Chaiken: The L Word
- David Chase: The Sopranos
- Marc Cherry: Desperate Housewives, The Golden Girls
- Stephen Colbert: Strangers with Candy, The Colbert Report
- Betty Corday: Days of Our Lives (1966-1987)
- Ken Corday: Days of Our Lives (1985-present)
- Ted Corday: Days of Our Lives (1965-1966)
- David Cormican: Between, Shadowhunters, The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe
- Simon Cowell: The X Factor, Britain's Got Talent, America's Got Talent
- Ron Cowen: Queer as Folk USA
- David Crane: Dream On, Friends, Veronica's Closet, Jesse, The Class, Episodes
- Carlton Cuse: The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr., Nash Bridges, Lost, Bates Motel, The Strain
- Greg Daniels: The Office, King of the Hill, The Simpsons
- Mike Darnell: 500 Questions, The World's Best, Mental Samurai
- Larry David: Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm
- Michael Davies: Who Wants to Be a Millionaire (1999-2010)
- Russell T Davies: Queer as Folk UK, Doctor Who (2005 revival), Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures
- Frederick de Cordova: The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (1970-1992)
- John de Mol: Big Brother, Fear Factor, Deal or No Deal
- Suzanne de Passe: Lonesome Dove, Sister, Sister, Smart Guy
- Roger Dobkowitz: The Price Is Right (1984-2008)
- David Doyle: Poker Superstars Invitational Tournament, Puppy Bowl
- Tina Fey: 30 Rock, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
- Jeff Franklin: Full House, Hangin' with Mr. Cooper
- Lowell Ganz: Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, Joanie Loves Chachi
- Larry Gelbart: M*A*S*H
- Michael Gill: Civilisation, Alistair Cooke's America
- Vince Gilligan: Breaking Bad
- Mark Goodson: Beat the Clock, Card Sharks, Family Feud, I've Got a Secret, Match Game, Password, The Price is Right, Tattletales, To Tell the Truth, What's My Line?
- Lauren Graham: Gilmore Girls
- Merv Griffin: Jeopardy!, Wheel of Fortune
- Paul Haggis: Due South
- Alan Hardwick: Yorkshire Television
- Dan Harmon: Community
- Don Hewitt: 60 Minutes
- Stephen Hillenburg: SpongeBob SquarePants
- Roy Huggins: Baretta, The Fugitive, The Rockford Files
- Armando Giovanni Iannucci, OBE: The Thick of It, Veep
- Marta Kauffman: Dream On, Friends, Veronica's Closet, Jesse, Related, Grace and Frankie
- David E. Kelley: Ally McBeal, Boston Legal, Boston Public, Chicago Hope, Picket Fences, The Practice
- Michael Patrick King: Sex and the City
- Eric Kripke: Supernatural, Revolution
- Matt Kunitz: Fear Factor, Wipeout
- Verity Lambert: Doctor Who, Adam Adamant Lives!, Jonathan Creek
- John Langley: COPS
- Peter Lassally: The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, Late Night With David Letterman, Late Show With David Letterman, The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson
- Lynn Marie Latham: Knots Landing, Homefront, The Young and the Restless
- Bill Lawrence: Scrubs, Cougar Town, Spin City
- Norman Lear: All in the Family, Good Times, Maude, One Day at a Time, Sanford and Son
- Ron Leavitt: Married... with Children, Unhappily Ever After
- Damon Lindelof: Lost
- Daniel Lipman: Queer as Folk (US)
- Chuck Lorre: Grace Under Fire, Cybill, Dharma & Greg, Two and a Half Men, The Big Bang Theory, Mike & Molly, Mom
- Seth MacFarlane: Family Guy, American Dad!, The Cleveland Show
- David Maloney: Blake's 7, The Day of the Triffids
- Garry Marshall: The Odd Couple (1970-1975), Happy Days (1974-1984), Laverne & Shirley (1976-1983)
- Quinn Martin: The Untouchables, The Fugitive, The F.B.I., The Invaders, Cannon, The Streets of San Francisco, Barnaby Jones
- Elizabeth Meriwether: New Girl
- Lorne Michaels: Saturday Night Live, The Kids in the Hall, 30 Rock
- Fran Mires: Ocurrio asi, Al Youm
- Steven Moffat: Doctor Who (after Russell T Davies), Sherlock, Jekyll, Coupling, Joking Apart and Chalk
- Ronald D. Moore: Battlestar Galactica, Roswell, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: The Next Generation
- Sarah Mulvey: Brat Camp, 10 Years Younger, Wife Swap
- Ryan Murphy: Popular, Nip/Tuck, Glee, American Horror Story, The New Normal
- John Nathan-Turner: Doctor Who (1980-1989)
- Mic Neumann: Kung Faux
- Sydney Newman: General Motors Theatre, Armchair Theatre
- Jonathan Nolan: Person of Interest
- Rockne S. O'Bannon: Farscape, Cult
- Michelle Paradise: Exes and Ohs
- Tyler Perry: Meet the Browns, House of Payne, Tyler Perry's For Better or Worse
- William P. Perry: Anyone for Tennyson?
- Julie Plec: The Vampire Diaries
- Bill Podmore: Coronation Street
- Gordon Ramsay: MasterChef US, Kitchen Nightmares, Ramsay's Best Restaurant
- Paul Rauch: Another World (1971-1983), Texas (1980-1981), One Life to Live (1984-1991), Santa Barbara (1992-1993), Guiding Light (1996-2002), The Young and the Restless (2008-2011)
- Shonda Rhimes: Grey's Anatomy, Private Practice, Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder
- Mark Risley: Rugrats, The Wild Thornberrys, Rocket Power and As Told by Ginger
- Gene Roddenberry: Star Trek: The Original Series, Star Trek: The Next Generation
- Shawn Ryan: The Shield, The Chicago Code, Last Resort
- Haim Saban: Power Rangers (1993-2001; 2010-present), Beetleborgs, VR Troopers
- Magnús Scheving: LazyTown
- Dan Schneider: Victorious, iCarly, Drake & Josh, Zoey 101, What I Like About You, Kenan & Kel, The Amanda Show, All That
- Josh Schwartz: The O.C., Chuck, Gossip Girl
- Jerry Seinfeld: Seinfeld
- Tom Selleck: Magnum, P.I.
- David Shore: House, Battle Creek
- David Simon: The Wire, The Corner, Generation Kill, Homicide: Life on the Street, Treme
- Arthur Smith: Hell's Kitchen, American Ninja Warrior, The Titan Games, Mental Samurai
- Aaron Sorkin: Sports Night, The West Wing, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, The Newsroom
- Aaron Spelling: Beverly Hills, 90210, Charmed, Charlie's Angels, Dynasty, Fantasy Island, The Love Boat, Melrose Place, The Mod Squad, 7th Heaven, Starsky and Hutch, S.W.A.T., T. J. Hooker 
- Darren Star: Beverly Hills, 90210, Melrose Place, Sex and the City
- Stephen Stohn: Degrassi: The Next Generation, Instant Star
- J. Michael Straczynski: Babylon 5
- Tim Taylor: 13 series of Time Team
- Harry Thomason: Designing Women, Evening Shade, Hearts Afire
- Paul Tibbitt: SpongeBob SquarePants (2007-present)
- Bill Todman: Beat the Clock, Card Sharks, Family Feud, I've Got a Secret, Match Game, Password, The Price Is Right, Tattletales, To Tell the Truth, What's My Line?
- Ivan Tors: Science Fiction Theater, Sea Hunt, The Man and the Challenge, The Aquanauts, Daring Game, Flipper, Gentle Ben, Daktari, Rip Cord, Cowboy in Africa, Jambo
- Mark Wahlberg: In Treatment, Entourage, Boardwalk Empire
- Ray Waru: Frontier of Dreams
- Ken Warwick: American Idol, America's Got Talent, Pop Idol, Gladiators
- Reg Watson: The Young Doctors, Prisoner, Neighbours
- Michael Wearing: Boys from the Blackstuff, Edge of Darkness
- Matthew Weiner: Mad Men
- Joss Whedon: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly and Dollhouse 
- Kevin Williamson: The Vampire Diaries, The Following
- Terence Winter: Boardwalk Empire 
- Dick Wolf: Law & Order, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Chicago P.D., Chicago Fire, Chicago Med, Chicago Justice 
- J. H. Wyman: Fringe, Almost Human