In Depth

12 to Watch: Barry Jossen

For years, Barry Jossen was known as the ABC Studios executive who made sure producers had the money they needed to bring their creative visions to the screen. His title changed recently, but as he sees it, his mandate remains the same.

12 to Watch

“My job is to make great TV … and hit television shows,” he said. “What I’m trying to do is make the process easier, more efficient. I want to add value to the process and make sure that I’m not just more bureaucracy and another step in the system.”

Until late last summer, Mr. Jossen participated in that process via his role as head of physical production for ABC Studios. But in an unexpected move, he was tapped to serve as the studio’s executive VP in charge of creative, giving him control of all current series and future development.

More change came last month, when Disney decided to fold ABC Studios into the ABC television network, putting Steve McPherson in charge of both. Insiders said it’s too soon to say exactly how Mr. Jossen’s role will evolve under Mr. McPherson, but they note Mr. McPherson has made it clear he’s a fan of Mr. Jossen.

While going from head of physical production to chief creative executive might seem like a big leap for Mr. Jossen, his resume suggests it’s not such a big deal. Before he came to ABC Studios, he had a creative hand in the development of a variety of feature and TV projects, from the movie “Miami Rhapsody” to series “Sex and the City” and “Grapevine.”

ABC and other networks are just starting to make decisions about which projects to greenlight to pilot, but Mr. Jossen said his goal this season has been to find shows, including traditional multicamera sitcoms, that mesh with the cultural zeitgeist.

“I love shows that transcend TV and become pop culture, that have their place in the history books as shows that define an era,” he said. “I would love to be a part of putting on that next set of period-defining shows.”


Name: Barry Jossen

Title: Head of creative, ABC Studios

How long in current position: Six months

Year of birth: 1959

Place of birth: New York City

What to watch for: Mr. Jossen’s job is considered safe, but how exactly ABC and ABC Studios will meld into one unit remains a mystery.

Who knew? Mr. Jossen is an Oscar winner, snagging an award for the DreamWorks pilot-turned-short film “Dear Diary.”