The Hot List 2009

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The Next Generation of Industry Leaders

Just in time for the 4th of July,  presents our annual list of the hottest up-and-comers in the business of television. We surveyed the worlds of broadcast, cable, syndication and digital to identify rising talents under 35 years of age. This year’s picks are building their reputations both in front of the camera and behind it, as well as in the executive suites of Hollywood and New York.

With the television industry in a state of flux, it’s these early-career players who will set the agenda in coming years.

Omid AshtariName: Omid Ashtari
Title: Agent, Creative Artists Agency
Age: 33

There are agents and then there are agents. Creative Artists Agency’s Omid Ashtari is the latter. Because if you’re a digital star or brand, chances are he’s on the short list of dream agents for representation.

As a business development agent at Creative Artists Agency, Mr. Ashtari represents well-known Web talent and companies including “Wine Library TV’s” Gary Vaynerchuk, digital studio Electric Farm Entertainment and Internet television network Revision3, among others... MORE


Brett BouttierName: Brett Bouttier
Title: Senior VP, digital, at Warner Bros. Television Group
Age: 33

The worlds of television and digital media may be blurring, but Brett Bouttier is navigating the murky waters just fine.

As senior VP of digital at Warner Bros. TV Group, Mr. Bouttier has overseen the transition of Web properties to television—the successful launch of as a syndicated TV show—and TV properties onto the Web... MORE


Brian BuchwaldName: Brian Buchwald
Title: Senior VP, local integrated media, NBC
Age: 34

At NBC, Brian Buchwald is responsible for reinventing what it means for local TV stations to be on the Web. He’s done well so far: the relaunch of NBC’s 10 owned station sites last fall has resulted in a tripling of Web traffic for those sites. As the senior VP of local integrated media at NBC, he’s about to shepherd yet another overhaul to grow them even more.

Keeping a local TV station relevant is no easy task in this economy... MORE


Amy ChiaroName: Amy Chiaro
Title: Co-executive producer of “The Dr. Oz Show,” produced by Harpo Productions and Sony Pictures Television.
Age: 35

Ms. Chiaro is taking the reins of the largest first-run syndicated show next season with “Oz.” The show, starring Dr. Memhet Oz, has a lot of steam behind it due to the Oprah-backed pedigree.

Ms. Chiaro has an extensive news background, serving in multiple roles within NBC News over the past 13 years, including senior broadcast producer position with “Today” and executive producer of “Today Weekend.”... MORE


Felicia DayName: Felicia Day
Title: Actress/writer/producer
Age: 28

Felicia Day operates at the epicenter of the online video business—both its creativity and its success. An actress, producer and writer, she also has the rare distinction of being a sharp business person. Late last year, she inked deals with Microsoft and Sprint to sponsor the second season of her gaming-centric online series, “The Guild,” which had been funded by fan donations for the first season. She recently renewed both advertisers for the third season... MORE


Tim and Mike DuffyNames and Titles: Mike Duffy, senior VP of development for RDF USA; Tim Duffy, VP of original programming, Spike TV
Ages: 34

Twin brothers Mike and Tim Duffy are rising stars in unscripted programming production.

Mike is heading up development on some new reality programs geared for younger female audiences, including The CW’s “Hitched or Ditched” and Oxygen’s “Addicted to Beauty,” with RDF USA.

Tim, meanwhile, is developing Spike TV’s programming slate geared at younger males... MORE


Mindy KalingName: Mindy Kaling
Title: Actress/producer
Age: 29

Mindy Kaling is learning to love the spotlight.

A veteran on NBC's "The Office," Kaling has long bounced between roles as a performer and a writer on the show. And for the longest time, Kaling considered herself more a writer than an actress.

"I identify so much with the writer side," she says. "I'm like, 'Don't look at me! Let me wear my overalls and eat my submarine sandwich!'"... MORE


Rina MimounName: Rina Mimoun
Title: Writer/executive producer
Age: 34

In the past decade, Rina Mimoun has carved out a niche as a go-to writer for what might be called the “quality soaps” genre.

She’s worked on a slew of teen-targeted dramas known for rising above the cliches of the category: “Gilmore Girls,” “Dawson’s Creek,” “Everwood,” “Jack & Jill.” Most recently, Ms. Mimoun rose to the ranks of showrunner, exec-producing the CW drama “Privileged.”... MORE


Nick WeidenfeldName: Nick Weidenfeld
Title: Director of program development, Adult Swim
Age: 29

As Adult Swim’s manager of program development, Nick Weidenfeld gets to develop the kinds programming 29-year-olds like himself would like to watch.

“If I were a 35- to 55-year-old woman, I would probably be making what interests me. I’d be making shows for Lifetime,” he said. “I guess that’s always where you get the most enjoyment out of your work is making the kind of content you’d watch or making the kind of music you’d want to listen to.”... MORE


Danielle WoodrowName: Danielle Woodrow
Title: Senior VP, original programming, FX
Age: 32

Danielle Woodrow, senior VP, original programming, at FX, has developed a knack for getting along in those tough situation when the network needs to pass a note to the showrunner of one of its series. As a rule, notes from the suits aren’t much welcome. Ms. Woodrow said she’s fortunate that the people running series such as “Rescue Me,” “Damages” and “Sons of Anarchy” are all very smart... MORE


On the Horizon

The vagaries of fate in the TV industry make identifying rising stars a chancy game, so is hedging its Hot List bets with a list of under-35 players who are On the Horizon. These are industry influencers who we think have what it takes, and we’re waiting to see them hit one out of the park.

Brian Brushwood, Magician, Web host, live performer

Scott Lonker, VP of nonfiction and alternative programming, A&E and Bio

Rosalyn Durant, vice president and general manager, ESPNU

Ross Cox, senior director of entertainment products for Turner Broadcasting’s Cartoon Network/Adult Swim new media

Noah Oppenheim, head of unscripted development, Reveille

Aziz Ansari, actor/writer/standup comedian, “Parks and Recreation” and “Human Giant”