Tag Archives: TV producer

Producer Brandon Lankar delivers hot topics for hit Canadian talk show

Brandon Lankar was just eleven years old when he first began working in the entertainment industry. Because of this, many assume his parents were involved in the industry in some way, but his father was a mechanic, and his mother a stay-at-home-mom. He grew up in a small town outside of Toronto, and still Lankar always knew just what his path would be and never strayed.

Starting off as a pre-teen television host, Lankar soon discovered his passion lay behind the camera, pulling the strings. It was not long before he found his way to producing, and now he has produced several hit programs in Canada, including the news channel CP24 and the popular iHeart Radio Much Music Video Awards, working alongside the world’s most iconic musicians.

“I’m an extremely organized and sometimes controlling person and that’s really what being a producer is all about. You have to have a vision, plan on how you will make that vision a reality and execute it. I’m not risk averse when it comes to my career and that’s something that’s incredibly beneficial when producing. If you’re trying to get an audience to really connect with something you’re producing, you can’t do something that’s been done before. You have to push the boundaries as much as you can and not be scared that you might offend someone or that someone might be uncomfortable with your work. I’ve always said that I don’t care if you hate my work or you love it as long as it makes you feel something,” said Lankar.

Lankar is currently a producer on Canada’s number one talk show, The Social, responsible for not only launching the show five years ago, but also combing through news outlets from all over the world to find stories that will spark captivating debates that will engage the at-home and digital audience. He aims to ensure a robust discussion and works side by side with the hosts to prepare them for the live show. He also produces the final segment, typically a fun game he has created or a light-hearted chat that will leave viewers excited to tune in again the next day.

The Social is a highly rated, award-nominated, national daytime talk series that brings a fresh perspective on the latest news, pop-culture topics and lifestyle subjects. Now on its fifth season, it continues to be the only format of its kind – featuring ways for viewers to be socially interactive through comments and feedback on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other social networks.

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Brandon Lanker in rehearsal with the hosts of CTV’s The Social

“I really love working on The Social. I’m so privileged to be able to work on a show that connects with so many people across Canada. Firstly, it’s allowed me to mix the two genres of live television that I love the most: hard news and pop culture. One day I could be working on a story about the federal budget and another day I could be reaching out to Katy Perry’s publicist to find out who she wore on last night’s red carpet. Secondly, I love working with such a diverse group of people. I think if you want something to be successful, you have to be able to analyze it from several different lenses. Thirdly, I love to ask questions. I was recently working on a segment with a lawyer all about what the legalities are surrounding online dating. To be able to make a career out of being inquisitive has been such a blessing. I’m on social media for everything including news, connecting with friends, dating, travelling, etc. The Social has allowed me to use all these things I love to create content for the country,” said Lankar.

The Social is immensely popular in Canada, and attending the live shows is extremely desirable. The energy from the live audience, as Lankar describes, can be felt throughout the studio, with people travelling from all over the country solely to see the show. That is what he finds so rewarding about his work. Many people reach out to him consistently to tell him what fans they are of the show and how its affected them. He loves seeing the impact the show has had.

“I’ve had someone say they love putting their baby down for a nap and watching the show because it’s the only time they feel they can actually breathe. I’ve had someone tell me that they would watch The Social while going to chemotherapy because it was the escape they needed,” said Lankar. “Even my mom watches the show every day and that’s saying something because she typically only watches home renovation shows.”

The Social is undoubtedly the highlight of Lankar’s esteemed career. He finds himself constantly connecting with his audience, and his work excites him. Earlier this year, he realized just how much he loves what he does when he was given the opportunity to work with his all-time favorite comedian, Kathy Griffin. As a child, he and his sister would lock themselves in their basement with their father’s laptop and spend hours howling with laughter listening to stories of the comedian’s celebrity run-ins. When he heard she was coming to Toronto, he immediately got her booked on the show.

“Let me start by saying I’m a huge fan of comedy – specifically female comics. There is one specific comic that I spent hours and hours watching online when I was growing up and her name was Kathy Griffin,” said Lankar. “I booked her for three segments on our show. Two of the segments were her discussing the hot topics of the day and the third segment was a sit-down interview with her. When the day came for her to be on the show, she couldn’t have been nicer. The segment went viral and it was surreal that the young boy that used to watch her on his dad’s laptop was now working with her to make TV magic,” he concluded.

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Ireland’s Jonathon Ridgard talks producing ‘America’s Got Talent’ and working alongside his idols

Hailing from Galway, Ireland, Jonathon Ridgard has come a long way both geographically and figuratively since he received his first camcorder at just eight years old. Even at such a young age, he had a passion that was more than just a childhood hobby. Now, Ridgard is a renowned supervising producer in Hollywood, and is responsible for bringing some of your favorite shows to the small screen.

“My parents recently found old home videos where I am running around interviewing everyone in the family. My brother was sick in the hospital, having his appendix removed and I have the camcorder with me, recording an interview with him – asking him how he feels, and to describe what was happening. With this camcorder, I used to film family parties, birthdays, christenings and cut them together to make short videos for people. I guess I always had a keen interest in telling the stories of what was going on in people’s lives,” said Ridgard.

Ridgard is currently busy getting ready for the highly-anticipated ABC reboot of American Idol, premiering March 11, working alongside such superstars as Lionel Richie, Luke Bryan, and Katy Perry. Ridgard previously produced the show’s 15th and final season on FOX and is glad to be back on such a celebrated program.

American Idol is far from Ridgard’s first taste of international success. This sought-after supervising producer has an esteemed resume, including Simon Cowell’s The X-Factor in the United Kingdom, Gordon Ramsay’s The F Word, and Undercover Boss, during which time the show was awarded an Emmy for “Outstanding Reality Program”.

“It’s hard to pinpoint a single highlight of my career. It would probably be working with Simon Cowell. He is someone I grew up watching on TV. He is an incredibly talented Executive Producer and on-screen talent. Working with Gordon Ramsay is also another career highpoint. I served as Senior Producer for his live show. Overseeing a team of producers and associate producers. I was tasked with creating new, interesting and fun pieces that would feature Gordon. I worked with Gordon on these developed ideas and then we would film them and turn them around in post to feature in the following weeks’ episodes. I am a big fan of Gordon, both as a Chef and a television personality. He is one of the nicest and easiest people I have ever had the pleasure of working with. And of course, being awarded an Emmy for contribution to Undercover Boss is also an incredible highlight. To be recognized for my contribution to such a successful show at an early age was, and still is, a very proud moment,” said Ridgard.

Ridgard is also known for his outstanding work on Simon Cowell’s Got Talent franchise around the world. Beginning with Australia’s Got Talent in 2010 followed by Britain’s Got Talent and contributing greatly to their success, Ridgard received a call from the show’s Executive Producer, Sam Donnelly, asking him to be a part of the U.S. version for its eighth season. Knowing that America’s Got Talent is one of the most iconic shows on American television, Ridgard immediately accepted. The show was about to go through some big changes, from new judges to a shift in the format, and he was ready to lend his talents to making the show an even greater hit than it already was. Ridgard achieved his goal. Since joining the team, the show has continually grown in ratings each year, something that is almost unheard of for a reality competition show that has been around for over a decade.

“I love that the stories we tell on a show like America’s Got Talent could potentially inspire people to get out there and follow their dreams. Maybe someone at home might see an 8-year-old dancer, or an 82-year-old juggler, or a struggling comedian, and these stories might resonate with them and their own story and it might push them to reach their full potential,” he said.

Working on the show was difficult but immensely rewarding for Ridgard. Not only did he enjoy working closely with the judges, Mel B, Heidi Klum, Howie Mandel and Howard Stern, but he travelled the country to find the talent that would be showcased on screen. Every year there are tens of thousands of applicants looking to be on the show, and it is Ridgard and his team that find the ones that will connect with audiences and therefore make the show a success. Going through such a large pool of applicants and narrowing them down can be hard and Ridgard would sometimes feel the pressure, but he let that fuel him. Not only did he understand that it was important to the show to find the right people, he understood the responsibility he had: people’s lives were in his hands. Ultimately, he made every decision based on what he knew from his vast experience would make good television and which contestants could ultimately go on to win the show.

In addition to this, Ridgard also had to decide how to tell the contestants’ stories. Some of the applicants have sad or traumatic backstories, and Ridgard knew that the way these stories were told were almost more important than the actual act; they could affect the viewers lives and needed to be told sensitively and in a way to inspire the contestant and the millions of viewers around the world.

“Telling people’s stories and getting to travel the United States while being one of the first people to see undiscovered talent and knowing that these people had a chance to win $1 million and go on to worldwide fame, well, it was an invaluable experience,” said Ridgard.

With such vital responsibilities, everyone on set recognized the producing team as the core of the show. They were the ones that worked in and were responsible for casting, setting up auditions and auditioning talent, filming back stories and interviews and ultimately being the go-to people for every other aspect of the show. It’s because of this that the show is successful and Ridgard is very proud of that.

“I was lucky enough to work with Jonathon as a producer on America’s Got Talent in 2012 and I was immediately struck by how creative he is. He walked onto a big team and quickly became a standout producer with his fresh approach to problem-solving in the field, his can-do attitude and ability to motivate the team around him. Many producers aren’t able to both supply creative, amazing ideas to take the show from good to great and execute them well, seeing them through to the final product, but Jonathon is skilled at both. He just gets it, the entire process, which I’m sure comes from his long, established career in this industry back in the UK. I love working with Jonathon as he’s extremely gifted at what he does, and I hope I get a chance to work with him again,” said Lindsay Tuggle, Supervising Producer.

After his tremendous success on America’s Got Talent, Ridgard was then asked to help launch the premiere season of Asia’s Got Talent. The spin-off is billed as the biggest talent show in the world with talent stretching across 15 countries from India through to Japan. Asia’s Got Talent delivered ratings ten times higher than its nearest English-speaking rival on its season one premier. Ridgard was contacted by FremantleMedia Asia to oversee the creation the show, based in Singapore. As a consulting producer, he was tasked with getting the show off the ground, imparting his expertise to the Asia team and showcasing how the Got Talent format was produced. He helped to develop the show from nothing, implementing casting plans in every country from India across to Japan. He was instrumental in casting the show, choosing the very best, interesting and diverse talent across all 15 countries. He also cast the two main hosts. Later, he worked with the full production team so they would understand how to produce interviews, b-roll, and stylized reality scenes that would fit in with the franchise. Asia’s Got Talent was one of the most successful show launches for AXN.

“I feel very proud to have worked on a franchise that is known globally. It’s been a career highlight and seeing the show continue to succeed is incredible to see. Being able to make people’s dreams come true is something that we actually do as producers. As cheesy as it sounds, seeing someone go from small town girl/boy achieving their dreams with the world at their feet is a job that not many people get to do, and it never gets old,” Ridgard concluded.

Showrunner Séamus Murphy-Mitchell dons Red Nose to raise millions for charity

Séamus Murphy-Mitchell has always loved television. As a child, he would constantly flick through the only two channels his family received, tuning into his favorite shows. Now, he makes his favorite shows. As an executive producer, Murphy-Mitchell is involved in the entire creation process, from beginning to end, and has a say in every aspect of a production; that is what he likes about being a showrunner. He gets to be creative whilst still being collaborative, and work alongside him have the same passion for television that he does.

“When I was a kid, I was once sent to a child psychologist to evaluate my lack of attention in class. Her final analysis was that I shouldn’t continue to watch Aaron Spelling serial dramas late into the night before school the next morning,” he joked.

This Irish-native has made a name for himself internationally, leading not only his country’s industry, but abroad as well. Having led shows such as hit BBC America series Almost Royal and the multi-award-winning BBC talk show Friday Night with Jonathan Ross to great success, Murphy-Mitchell has shown the world what he is capable of. His work on The Adam Buxton Podcast and 50 Ways to Kill Your Mammy show audiences just how versatile this executive producer is, and he is always looking for new challenges. This is exactly what he got when he decided to run the very ambitious, live broadcast of 24 Hour Panel People.

“Working on 24 Hour Panel People was very challenging, but in many ways illustrated all the best bits about working in television. We were working as part of a large team to deadline on a ground-breaking project. I’ve probably never been so sleep deprived as I was when we finally came off air, but we still went out and had fun afterwards to celebrate,” said Murphy-Mitchell.

24 Hour Panel People was a 24-hour, live broadcast to raise money for Comic Relief and run up to the United Kingdom’s famous “Red Nose Day”. Since its launch in 1988, Red Nose Day has become something of a British institution. It’s the day, every two years, when people across the land can get together and do something funny for money at home, school and work. There’s a fantastic night of TV on the BBC, with comedy and entertainment to inspire the nation to give generously. Comic Relief spends the money raised by Red Nose Day to help people living tough lives across the United Kingdom and Africa, tackling issues like poverty, hunger, and mental health.

“Comic Relief is a huge charity that raises an enormous amount of money and does a huge amount of good around the world. 24 Hour Panel People was a great example of how this charity always embraces new ways of engaging with an audience, and for that reason it was a great success,” said Murphy-Mitchell.

Taking on the network’s first 24-hour broadcast was a challenge Murphy-Mitchell was more than up for. Live from BBC Television Centre, from midday March 5th to midday March 6th, 2011, the epic event featured comedian David Walliams front and center alongside a revolving door of eminent comedians, sports stars and actors as he took on the challenge of hosting a mammoth and constant succession of the UK’s greatest panel shows past and present.

Including such beloved panel show institutions as Blankety Blank, QI, The Generation Game, Call My Bluff, Have I Got News For You and Whose Line Is It Anyway, Murphy-Mitchell produced the live show nonstop and seamlessly throughout the night, single handedly running autocue and the floor and ensuring Walliams was mentally alert, focused, funny and robust as he persevered throughout the night. He also brought a considerably younger audience to Comic Relief, ensuring the broadcast would succeed for years to come.

“Once the live broadcast came to its finale, Séamus then edited the entire 24 hours into 5 half hour compilation specials which were broadcast nightly on the BBC over the week of the Red Nose campaign. 24 Hour Panel People went down in charity history as a seminal, ground-breaking occasion which not only raised millions of pounds for Comic Relief but set the bar for future fundraising events across the globe, all with the help of Séamus,” said Suzi Aplin, executive producer of Comic Relief and 24 Hour Panel People.

When Aplin was looking for a showrunner to produce the show, which in the end amounted to 22 different comedy entertainment formats in 24 hours, she knew she needed an experienced executive producer to lead the broadcast to a success. Having worked with Murphy-Mitchell in the past, she knew he not only had the talent, but would be up for the challenge. Once he was approached, Murphy-Mitchell knew he wanted to produce the show. The BBC had never attempted a 24-hour broadcast before, and he knew he could help lead the inaugural broadcast.

“It was a really exciting project from the very beginning. I had worked for Comic Relief in the past and I was very keen to work for the charity again, particularly on a project so unique and unprecedented,” he described.

From the moment pre-production began, Murphy-Mitchell and his team were frantically busy. They had to secure the format rights for the 22 different shows they were going to have on the show, and once they achieved such a feat, they had to then break them down and figure out how to adapt them into a 24-hour time period.

“Securing rights was a big part of the project’s success. I spent a long time convincing Sir David Frost that we wouldn’t destroy his Through the Keyhole format. In the end, he was delighted with its contribution to the success of the night,” he said.

After achieving this, they had to book tickets and fill the chairs for each of the shows. Murphy-Mitchell had three teams assigned to this Herculean task, as hundreds of people were needed to fill all the chairs. Each team looking after an average of five formats, along with three directors to work eight hours each throughout the night.

“Most of us didn’t sleep at all for 40 hours or so as we were all up at the crack of dawn on the morning of the broadcast. David Walliams was completely heroic. The point of the show was that David would appear in all 22 of the formats over 24 hours. At some points he was so tired that he was incoherent, but he still managed to be funny in every single show,” Murphy-Mitchell described.

In 2011, Comic Relief managed to raise a whopping £108,436,277 (over $150 million USD) for Red Nose Day, and Murphy-Mitchell’s 24 Hour Panel People was a large part of that. Not only does this showrunner entertain his audiences, but he also gives back, and that is what makes his work so enjoyable.

Producer Rosie Kinane-Adams talks ‘America’s Got Talent’ and working with her idol Simon Cowell

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Rosie Kinane-Adams

There was never any other choice for Rosie Kinane-Adams; she always wanted to be a producer. It was more than just about wanting to behind the camera, she has an extraordinary ability to hear someone’s story and find the aspect that makes it different. There are so many stories that have been told over and over again in the same way, whether it be in reality television or film, but Kinane-Adams instinctively knows how to find that angle that makes audiences remember what they just watched. She knows that everyone has a uniqueness to them that is interesting, and finding that uniqueness and telling that story is what makes Kinane-Adams such a renowned producer, and why she loves what she does. Each job is a puzzle to her, and each piece is put together but how to properly tell the story.

Kinane-Adams has worked all around the world doing what she loves. She is internationally renowned, working at the forefront of the film and television industry. She has a resume filled with achievements, and has greatly contributed to the success of shows such as The Biggest Loser, The Bachelor, Married at First Sight, Masterchef, and First Dates. By working on these formats across the world, Kinane-Adams is able to bring the best of each country’s production techniques, and combine them to be at the height of it all globally. However, it was working on the award-winning show America’s Got Talent that was the highlight of Kinane-Adams’ esteemed career.

“Working with Simon Cowell has been beyond a doubt the highlight of my career. He is an incredibly talented executive producer and on-screen talent, and growing up in England, watching the X-Factor, it was beyond my dreams that I would ever be working with him on America’s Got Talent, one of the biggest shows in the world. He was an idol of mine throughout my career, so to be working with him was inspirational,” said Kinane-Adams.

After seeing success on the hit game show The Price is Right, Kinane-Adams was approached to work on America’s Got Talent by Fremantle Media. The show was on its eighth season, with vast success and an outstanding reputation. They knew they needed someone with an eye for story in order to eventually lead a story team that would create and pursue interesting and unique stories and bring the level of storytelling to a new high.

“My focus throughout my career in television, and at America’s Got Talent, has been story telling. Everyone has a story to tell and everyone has something interesting about them that the rest of the world wants to know. Especially on America’s Got Talent, these people have had the most interesting lives. The hardest part of my job is choosing one part of these people’s lives to focus on, because they are all truly some of the most interesting and creative people in the world,” she described.

From seasons eight to ten, Kinane-Adams’ role on the show as a producer was to create the most innovative packages for each act possible. It was essential that the quality of work Kinane-Adams was creating was some of the best in the industry- from story right through to camera techniques. On a show as successful as America’s Got Talent, the pressure is high to be the best, and Kinane-Adams storytelling talents was evident with each episode she worked on.

“It was important being on a show as successful as America’s Got Talent, that we were seen to be showing America, not only the best and most unique talent, but also the height of sophistication in terms of how we were filming things, whether this be the camera techniques, or the creative ideas for opens to the show,” she said. “America’s Got Talent is the most successful talent show in the world. It is the epitome of the American Dream, and really shows the world what people are capable of. It has been by far the highlight of my career to work on a show reaching tens of millions of people internationally. The ‘Got Talent’ format is available in 69 countries and has reached over 500 million people worldwide, and that’s a really amazing thing to be a part of.”

In addition to her story producing responsibilities, Kinane-Adams worked on post-production with an editor, bringing the interviews, b-roll and performance together to create segments of the show. She also worked in the casting department where she would scout for the best talent in the country, whether that be online, at events, or at open call casting days. This commitment to the show and each contestant’s story impressed everyone she worked with.

“I first met Rosie working on America’s Got Talent in 2012 when she joined the story team as a producer. I was immediately impressed with how she stepped into an established show with such poise and professionalism, instantly becoming an essential member of our team. She came in not only with fresh, creative ideas, but the ability to execute them efficiently, keeping a positive, problem-solving attitude throughout even our longest shoot days,” said Lindsay Tuggle, Senior Producer. “Rosie has been one of my favorite producers to work with in my 10+ years in the reality realm. She’s reliable and hardworking, endlessly creative, and a pleasure to be around. It doesn’t matter if she’s setting up logistics for a complicated shoot, coming up with a creative way to visually tell a story, directing cameras in the field or putting it all together in post-production, you know Rosie is going to tackle whatever she takes on with a refreshingly positive attitude, which can sometimes be scarce in this industry.”

“Rosie is an especially good producer because she has the ability to see projects through from conception to delivery. While many producers are only experienced in one aspect of production, Rosie has experience in every single step of the process, which makes her an invaluable asset to any team she’s on. She understands each small piece of the puzzle, but because of her keen eye for storytelling, she never loses sight of the bigger picture,” Tuggle added.

Although the show has been the most popular show of the summer for its thirteen seasons, during Kinane-Adams time, it was also nominated for a TV Choice Award and a Critics Choice Award. She worked with hundreds of contestants each day, and instilled a complicated system in order to ensure that they shot all the content they needed to shoot, and that it was of the highest quality and had that each contestant had content that had a unique stamp on it. This highly complex system is still in place today and ensures that post production has everything they need to create the successful show that they do. She has greatly contributed to the show’s recent success, and she loved every minute of her time there.

“Another wonderful aspect of the job is working with such incredible judging talent. Mel B, Howie Mandel, Howard Stern and Heidi Klum are all incredibly talented people within their field, and take their job on the show very seriously. Their passion for helping people’s dreams come true is evident, and to interview them on the acts and film with them backstage during stage breaks has been a highlight of my career,” Kinane-Adams concluded.