The Agents: Mark Itkin

Sep 21, 2008  •  Post A Comment

More than one unscripted agent has claimed to have pioneered the notion of bringing overseas nonfiction show concepts to the U.S., including former William Morris staffer Ben Silverman. But while Mr. Silverman was still a teenager back in 1988, Mark Itkin was in London identifying game-show formats that would end up in the U.S. Those syndicated shows—“Sweethearts” and “Trump Card”—weren’t big hits, but they helped lay the groundwork for what would become a flood of unscripted imports a decade later.

TVWeek’s Real Power

It also marked the beginning of Mr. Itkin’s career as a pioneer in the modern reality TV era. In the mid-1990s, he put together MTV’s “The Real World” via client Bunim-Murray Productions.

In 2000, he helped Jon de Mol bring “Big Brother” to the United States, supplying CBS with a summer staple that’s still thriving under the direction of Allison Grodner. He followed up by helping put together unscripted hits such as “Fear Factor,” “Project Runway,” “Hell’s Kitchen” and “The Biggest Loser.”

“I grew up in a middle-class environment,” Mr. Itkin said. “So I have no snobbery about entertainment. I love TV and I love reality TV. So I think I have a good gut for what I think will sell and what will work.”

Mr. Itkin said he also tries to always be “honest with my clients and my buyers. I don’t waste time on bullshit.”

Dream collaboration: “Jacqueline Smith. I loved her as an Angel and love her as host of ‘Shear Genius.’”


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