From Mike Cane:
What is a showrunner? I've heard that during the WGA strike. Is it like Line Producer? Do they have a Producer credit? Or are they like Script Editor? It seems like He Who Must Be Obeyed, but I don't know what specific title they have and what duties. (Yeah, sorry for the 101!)
answered better than I could by commenter Maestro:
The term showrunner came about because it succinctly describes the duties of the position. i.e. the showrunner is the person who runs the show. He or she is responsible for overseeing literally everything--every aspect of the show: the writing, the production, the budget, hiring (directors, writers, department heads, actors), etc. Sort of like a CEO in a corporation. And as opposed to a Line Producer who is "only" responsible for overseeing the physical production of the show. (To continue with the corporation analogy, you could say the Line Producer is the COO to the showrunner's CEO.) In a nutshell, the Line Producer (who often gets a "Produced by" credit) is responsible for making sure things go smoothly on the set. Whereas the showrunner is responsible for making sure things go smoothly on the show.
Oh, and the showrunner is almost always credited as one of the Executive Producers, but not all credited EPs are showrunners. (e.g. Jerry Bruckheimer is credited as EP on all of the CSIs, but he doesn't run any of them. That would be Carol Mendelsohn, Ann Donahue, and (creator) Anthony Zuiker on CSI, Miami, and NY respectively.)
I'd add that once you are a showrunner, you are always in the club. You're often brought in to help out on shows created by less experienced writers. Every now and then you'll see the credit "Consulting Producer." This is generally someone who could showrun, but is hanging about a few days a week for less money, helping out on breaking stories and smoothing the bumps.
This is one of the reasons I found all the condescension from our libertarian professional pundits so annoying during the Strike (and assumptions by conservatives that Hollywood is full of flighty liberal artistes). We are in the Business of Show, and run multi-million dollar "companies" in one of the most highly competitive marketplaces in the world. I'll trust the business acumen of the showrunner of Diresta over another think piece from a Vassar grad any day.
Ahem. Moving on.
What are Network quotes?
I think we tackled this once, but rather than hunt it up -- all financial systems crave order.I'm not going to go into Econ 101 here, but valuing insubstantial qualities like "creativity" is tricky. Is this writer going to give me $8000 of value an episode? Or $10,000? Relative to what exactly? Other writers who worked in wildly different work structures on wildly different shows? Network execs had to wrestle with this ambiguity while they tried to staff dozens of writers on dozens of shows and dozens of pilots every year. In such madness, the invisible hand reaches in, and execs find themselves asking "Well, what did someone else pay for [X]?"
Your "quotes" are what you earned on your last gig. Establishing your quotes are crucial, and your agent is constantly looking to get a bump up on each job. Quotes in television and movies are structured differently. In television, they are generally associated with your title. This is because, through another forces-of-the-marketplace evolutionary loop, the titles on television shows are almost as stringently laddered as military ranks. For the last twenty or so years, your career path would proceed almost precisely along these lines --
Staff writer (paid weekly)
Executive Story Editor
Each rung on this ladder, depending on the marketplace at the time, had a rough per-episode salary associated with it. Like all codified systems, this one eventually rotted: weak writers could squeak out some bumps, move from show to show before their reputations could catch up with them - remember, this was when there were dozens of scripted shows, and 8-12 writers per show -- and suddenly you'd find yourself with a Supervising Producer making $30,000 an episode who can't actually write worth a damn. (Thank good financial institutions such as banks and hedge funds are immune to such rot!)
Movie quotes are based on the specific kind of work you're doing. A first draft plus one set of revisions is one price for me, a full rewrites is another, a "polish" is yet another price. Because of the emergency script doctoring I've done, I also have quotes for weekly and daily rates.
The reason I was mocking people's television quotes -- well, it's a lot like the housing bubble out here right now. A lot of writers spent years building up equity in their career, and haven't quite wrapped their heads around the idea that cable and reality TV have devalued the neighborhood. Capitalism's a bitch. On the other hand, those prices were boom-time inflationary, so ...
Wow, it IS the housing crisis. Weird.
Whoops, Chris walked in. Need to get to work breaking stories. I'll get a few of the other terms later today.