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Syndicated Strip Showrunners: John Redmann

Dec 6, 2004  •  Post A Comment

Redmann, a fan of talk shows as a kid, learned quickly once he grew up that they’re much easier to watch than they are to produce.

“I never watched cartoons as a kid, I watched talk shows and thought they were amazing-I wanted to do that,” said the executive producer of “The Tony Danza Show.” When he got a job on “Ricki Lake,” he said, “I could not believe people worked 24 hours a day to do this.”

Granted, Mr. Redmann said celebrity-driven talkers like Buena Vista Television-distributed “Danza” make for a more easygoing producer lifestyle than issue- or confrontation-oriented shows like “Ricki” do. “There’s not that stress of is your guest going to show up the next day,” he said during a phone interview from his New York office, before he paused to request a piece of lasagna made from Tony Danza’s mom’s recipe on the show that morning. “There are no fights, nothing negative. It’s such a positive experience.”

Not that it’s a piece of cake, er, lasagna.

Mr. Redmann said it was important to do “Danza” live to be topical and timely and “because Tony is such a great reactionary person consumed with pop culture and events” and when delayed a day “you miss out on the world.”

That often means working on the fly, as major changes are made up until 10 seconds before air to respond to the events of the day.

Mr. Redmann said his biggest concern about “Danza,” however, was booking a celebrity-driven talk show in New York, where the pecking order for booking celebs is well established. “You don’t want to be too far down the food chain,” he said.

As it turned out, Mr. Redmann said, the show’s booking has exceeded expectations. “We have names continuously and oftentimes get them first or second,” he said, attributing the success partly to Mr. Danza’s willingness to make personal calls to celebrities. He said buzz in the New York market also has helped attract guests. “Danza,” which airs on WABC-TV in New York, consistently wins its 10 a.m. time period in the market, according to Buena Vista’s research. The show is up 26 percent year to year in the slot, the company said. “Danza’s” lead-in on WABC is fellow live, New York-based Buena Vista show “Live With Regis and Kelly,” a longtime bona fide hit.

Like many showrunners, Mr. Redmann watches all of the show’s ratings closely. “There’s nothing more exciting. You see the measure of your success,” he said. “It keeps you challenged creatively to capture the audience and move the number.”