Episode 19

Michelle Newman – On becoming a TV Network Executive


Have you ever considered a career in entertainment? Do you daydream about becoming a producer? What makes game shows fun? Now that we’ve been at home for some time in quarantine, daytime TV has become a bigger part of our lives. Our guest today is Michelle Newman, an entertainment and television consultant, and former executive. She’s here today to pull back the curtain on some of our favorites–what goes on behind the scenes? How does network TV actually work? She’ll answer all of these questions and more in today’s episode of Mentors and Moguls.

Having worked on a number of game shows, Michelle offers some insight. For game shows, there are many different aspects to consider: the games themselves (producers are constantly coming up with new games), the prize pool, and arguably most importantly, the contestants, who can be a wildcard. Selecting them a learned skill! In fact, the same man has been selecting contestants for The Price is Right. 

Normally, it takes about a year to develop a show for the air, but Michelle has done it in half that time. 

Selecting new shows for daytime Network TV is a rare occurrence. But when it does happen, the available timeslot is blasted out to the TV world. From there, production companies will offer pitches via phone and email. Then, they’ll talk you through what the show would look like and executives discuss what would and wouldn’t work. When they’ve come to a conclusion, budgets are discussed, and pilot episodes are filmed, one per show, just like they were in full production. Once the episodes are finished, they host a viewing for the Network, where they’ll provide feedback and eventually select a show. Normally, it takes about a year to develop a show for the air, but Michelle has done it in half that time. 

When they’re searching for a game show host, there are a lot of things to keep in mind: keeping the game running, knowing the rules, keeping the contestant involved, and they have to be funny! That’s part of why comedians make some of the best game show hosts. It’s not an easy job. For talk shows, authenticity is number 1. People do not buy phony celebrities anymore–they see right through it. 

Being an executive requires certain qualities to thrive in an environment like daytime television.

Being an executive requires certain qualities to thrive in an environment like daytime television. First and foremost, Michelle says, is your attitude. You’re going to be working hard for long hours with a plethora of people. You’ll have bosses, you’ll be the boss, and everyone has to play their part. Nobody wants to be around a Debby-downer or someone who talks negatively about others. Your work ethic is another massive component. Being the person who shows up first and leaves last is essential. Don’t try to toot your own horn, but if you did something good, make sure your boss knows. 

Behind the scenes, Michelle talks about some tips she’s learned. If you have a celebrity you love, she says don’t meet them! You may be disappointed in some cases! She shares an experience she had where a friend of hers’ idol ended up being short and generally unkind. All that glitters is not necessarily gold!

One thing that has changed, especially for writers, is how freeing it is to not have to follow a network formula.

With the creation of new streaming platforms, the course of production has certainly changed. One thing that has changed, especially for writers, is how freeing it is to not have to follow a network formula. There are fewer restrictions on the number of episodes, run time, cliffhangers, etc.

Michelle experienced a serious setback in the form of a serious brain hemorrhage. She had just been hired as an executive and was in a high-stress environment when the vein burst in her head. However, she recovered and realized the importance of not sweating the small stuff. This allowed her to become a better manager, meeting people where they were instead of acting as a larger-than-life figure. The incident knocked her back into reality and got her clear on what is important in her day-to-day. 

Tune in to hear more of Michelle’s story from the “other side” of daytime television!

“It’s not about just working hard, but working hard with a purpose.” – Michelle Newman @thenewmid

Connect with Michelle Newman

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