Hot List: Nick Weidenfeld
Name: Nick Weidenfeld
Title: Director of program development for Adult Swim
Big Break: Meeting Williams St. Studios Senior Executive VP in charge of Adult Swim Mike Lazzo while writing a story on the cartoon block for Esquire. Two months later he was in Atlanta working for Adult Swim.
Who knew?: Used to work for Linda Tripp at the Pentagon in Public Affairs.
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.”
Not that everyone at Adult Swim is just out of their adolescence. Mr. Lazzo, for one is out of the demo. And not all 18- to 34-year-olds are into the same things. But he said “if I ever feel that I’m not making the right decisions or don’t understand any more the kind of content that we should be making, then I won’t do it anymore.”
Mr. Weidenfeld has the luxury of being able to discover producers and help shepherd their work through the creative process until a show is ready to go on the air.
Sometimes the popularity of the end results are surprising, even to him.
“What’s great about Adult Swim is we don’t focus-group a lot ... the focus group is the guys in the office,” he said.
Sometimes shows are obviously going to do well, like “Robot Chicken,” which came from Seth Green and featured short bursts dealing with pop culture.
On the other hand, a show like “Moral Orel” featured “one of the soundest scripts from beginning to end, but it can get incredibly heady and maybe in some ways too smart for its own good,” Mr. Weidenfeld said. Nevertheless it’s got a loyal fan base and does very well.
Or take “Xavier: Renegade Angel,” which features a very dense load of jokes per second. “I think it’s one of the most brilliant shows on all of television, but I’m shocked anyone watches it,” he said. “No one’s heard of it, but its numbers reflect that there is an audience that really responds to it.”