JHRTS NY Recap: A Conversation with Planet Green
JHRTS New York successfully hosted another exciting and informative panel on Tuesday, May 24th, which featured Laura Michalchysyn (President / General Manager of Discovery Fit & Health and President / General Manager of Planet Green), Dr. Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell, (stars of THE FABULOUS BEEKMAN BOYS on Planet Green), and moderated by Josh Bider (Television Agent, WME).
Josh Bider steered the dialogue smoothly, addressing various topics including what led them to a career in television, techniques they use to grow emerging brands, advice for those starting out in the industry, and the new direction and rebranding of Planet Green.
Laura, Brent, and Josh Kilmer-Purcell came from diverse backgrounds prior to starting out in the industry. Brent was a physician and businessman, Josh was an advertising executive and drag queen, and Laura was highly involved in the arts. Initially, Laura didn’t even know what platform she wanted to work in, but she was passionate about wanting to develop some form on content. In her own words, she “started in the trenches, and worked her way through.” However, despite their varying career backgrounds, one thing remained constant among all of them – they were all filled with ambition and hunger. That sentiment was clearly relayed by all three, with Brent stating “You have to have the hunger. This industry is far too competitive to be able to be lazy and make it to the top.”
Laura certainly used her hunger to work her way through the trenches, and now is the GM of two networks and leading the rebranding process of Planet Green. Prior to Discovery, she served as EVP and GM of Sundance Channel, which doubled original programming hours and tripled the number of programming hours overall under her leadership. Laura has received many awards and accolades during her career in programming, including being named in Cable World Top 100 Women’s Power list in 2007. She attributes her success to the fact that, for her, working in media is not a job, it’s a lifestyle. In her words, “one must become a great sampler, and know a little bit about everything.” She stressed the importance of setting a rhythm of constant inspiration, regardless if it comes from television, film, books, theatre, magazines, or museums. Multiple outlets of inspiration are needed because it is “a business of throwing a lot at the wall, and hoping something sticks.”
THE FABULOUS BEEKMAN BOYS was indeed one of the projects that stuck, as it quickly became the top-rated show on Planet Green. Laura was initially attracted to the project because she believed it to be television that was responsible and socially conscious, and yet had all the makings of good TV. Unlike many reality programs, the Beekman Boys noted how nothing on their show is fabricated, and everything is 100% authentic. Josh Kilmer-Purcell talked about how the aspect of the show that he is most proud of, is that they are the first long-term gay couple on television, but they didn’t make the show about that – which in turn has made a much bigger impact on middle America. Their impact is evident through their GLAAD Media Awards nomination for Outstanding Reality Program this past year.
Not only has THE FABULOUS BEEKMAN BOYS helped tremendously in rebranding the network, but Laura also discussed how it has helped them chart what else they can do in the future. The recent success and impact of the show, outlines a promising future for both THE BEEKMAN BOYS and the evolving network.