In Depth

Women in Television: Suzanne Patmore-Gibbs

Who: Suzanne Patmore-Gibbs, executive VP of drama development, ABC Entertainment

Women in TV

Why: As ABC’s head of drama for the past four years, Ms. Patmore-Gibbs has helped burnish the network’s reputation for launching successful, buzz-worthy hours that break through the pop-culture noise. Her gigs at ABC (and, before that, ABC Studios) have seen her playing key roles in the development of dramas such as “Desperate Housewives,” “Ugly Betty,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Lost.”

This year, she added “Life on Mars” and “Eli Stone” to her resume. The verdict’s out on whether either show will become a hit, but both have drawn positive reviews and helped ABC continue to dominate its soapy drama niche. Ms. Patmore-Gibbs—whose office features a large sign reminding visiting writers (and herself) to “breathe”—also is putting the finishing touches on an ambitious slate of 2009 dramas, include a remake of the 1990s cult favorite “Cupid” and a couple of character-driven procedurals.

What: Ms. Patmore-Gibbs credits her college Shakespeare professor, Martha Andresen of Pomona College, for teaching her the importance of good writing and storytelling. “She taught us not to feel distant from Shakespeare but to appreciate his storytelling,” Ms. Patmore-Gibbs said. “It was the beginning of my understanding the development process, and story structure, and the myriad of things you can do with the same spine of a story.”