HRTS Member Profile: Bert Salke
Bert Salke is President of Fox 21 studios. I recently had a chance to interview Bert to discuss Kurt Sutter, HOMELAND and shooting in Israel.
Q: Can you tell us about your background and what made you want to work in entertainment?
-As a kid, I grew up as an avid watcher of TV and movies. I was incredibly intrigued with the unique mix of creativity and business that Hollywood held.
Q: How did you first get involved with the HRTS?
-I’m a frequent guest at HRTS organized events – I first got involved by attending some of the lunches and panels.
Q: What is a favorite memory from your career thus far?
-There was a day a number of years ago where my ex-partner, Chris Brancato, and I got three pilots picked up. That was a pretty great day. It was also pretty incredible when HOMELAND won the Emmys for best show, best actress, and best actor.
Q: What do you look for when developing a new show?
-I first look for something that I would want to watch, something that’s unique and that hasn’t been seen before on television, with a feature-like scope, and edgy and controversial characters. I tend to veer to the dark side of human endeavor.
Q: What are some of the keys to the ongoing success of SONS OF ANARCHY?
-First and foremost, the vision of Kurt Sutter. The second is unpredictability – both in characters and narrative. You never know where the show is going to go.
Q: What’s it like shooting TYRANT on-location in Israel?
-It truly is a wholly different experience than any other TV show that I’ve worked on. We’ve built an entire studio on the outskirts of Tel Aviv, in a country where there’s never been a studio. It’s been made infinitely more difficult because we are using crews that are used to a different process. It’s like teaching a class on US TV production.
Q: How do you see the industry changing over the next few years?
-I believe that the number people responsible for making shows will continue to shrink and more shows will be in the hands of fewer people. Luckily for us, content will remain the most important element of the business and there will always be a need for the people who make it.
Q: Anything you would like to add?
-Having the good fortune to be able to work in the cable business has been a gift. Cable programming is at its pinnacle and feels like it’s now at the top of the creative pyramid in Hollywood. That we get to be in the middle of it, working on shows like HOMELAND, SONS OF ANARCHY, SALEM, and TYRANT, is really awesome.