In Depth

The Cable Guys: Cris Abrego

President, Cris Abrego Productions

If Mike Darnell is the dark lord of reality, Cris Abrego and frequent collaborator Mark Cronin are the evil princes of cable. Their first big hit, “The Surreal Life,” made TV safe for B-list celebrities again. After the show clicked on VH1 (following a run on The WB), Mr. Abrego and Mr. Cronin became the cable network’s go-to guys for jaw-dropping spectacles such as “Flavor of Love,” “I Love New York” and “Rock of Love.” Earlier this year, their taste for the tacky paid off when Endemol USA snatched up their company, 51 Minds, for upwards of $200 million.

TVWeek’s Real Power

While Mr. Abrego and Mr. Cronin share the credit for the VH1 shows, the two increasingly are working on projects independently via their own companies within Endemol. Mr. Abrego is producing MTV’s “From Gs to Gents” and VH1’s “Glam God” without Mr. Cronin. Mr. Abrego also has several other solo projects in development, including a Carmen Electra series and a top-secret show at Fox. The real test for Mr. Abrego will be whether his brand of comedic storytelling can play outside of the VH1 cocoon.

Dream collaboration: Mark Burnett