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JHRTS-NY Recap: A Conversation with Doug Herzog

Doug Herzog at the JHRTS NY eventJHRTS-NY is happy to report that our inaugural event with Doug Herzog, President of MTV Networks Entertainment Group, was a great success!

Over sixty assistants and coordinators from 10+ different entertainment and media companies gathered in WME's Screening Room to glean some insight from the industry veteran with three decades of experience in the television business.

Fielding questions from Jon Rosen, Head of East Coast Television & Branded Lifestyle for WME, Herzog related his experiences rising through the ranks of CNN and MTV (where he greenlit Real World, for one), and then becoming President of Comedy Central, where he turned that channel into the network we know today by bringing South Park and The Daily Show to air.

Having also served as President of Entertainment for FOX between stints at USA and Comedy Central (which he ran twice), Herzog shared some thoughts on the differences between cable and broadcast.  We learned that Herzog's love for the cable business grew out of the ability to really program for a particular audience.  Whereas the broadcast networks are forced to develop programs in a sort of vacuum because their audiences are so vast, the cable networks can really get to know their audiences and develop accordingly.  It suffices to say that Herzog is quite happy to be at Viacom's MTV Networks where he now oversees not one, but three cable networks: Comedy Central, TV Land, and Spike.

Audience at the JHRTS NY event with Doug Herzog

As reported in Broadcast & Cable, Herzog was quite forthright with regard to his TV Land brand, and the recent resurgence the channel has experienced thanks to its breakout hit, Hot in Cleveland:

Herzog said that in an era of DVRs, the viability of a channel dedicated to reruns that relied on channel surfing was not looking too good. It was a risky move, he admits - foisting new programming onto an audience that doesn’t want to see it. But when the network premiered its first original scripted series, Hot in Cleveland, on June 16, 2010, it became the highest-rated telecast in the network’s history. “We got incredibly lucky,” Herzog said of the success of Cleveland.

Of the unlikelihood of TV Land becoming a breeding ground for original comedies, Herzog said, “You can’t, until you can,” comparing it to AMC’s rebranding from a channel that only showed old films to the home of Emmy-winning dramas like Mad Men and Breaking Bad. And he plans to bring more original programming to TV Land like Cleveland. “I want to be what USA Network is to one-hour dramas for half-hour comedies.” And Herzog actually knows a thing or two about the network he aspires to emulate — he spent three years as president of USA Network, from 2001-2004, where he put shows like Monk and The 4400 on the air.

As for advice to those in attendance, Herzog urged the future entertainment moguls to take jobs only if you really want them.  Doing so for any other reason can only lead to disappointment.  We'll be sure to heed Mr. Herzog's warning as we build our careers!

Rosen and Herzog at the JHRTS NY event

We hope to follow our exciting first JHRTS-NY event with several more.  At the Doug Herzog event, we were pleased to announce our February panel, "A Conversation with the Scripted Hitmakers," featuring Sarah Condon (Bored to Death) and Erin Junkin (Television Agent, WME) with others to be announced soon.  We'll also be making an exciting announcement about a January event shortly.

Stay tuned for more reports and updates from JHRTS-NY soon!

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