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Syndicated Strip Showrunners: Thomas Klein

Dec 6, 2004  •  Post A Comment

To say has stared down several challenges as executive producer of “Pat Croce: Moving In” would be like calling the Sears Tower a pretty tall building.

“Launching `Pat Croce’ was without a doubt one of the toughest jobs I’ve had as a producer,” Mr. Klein said.

That’s coming from a man who a few seasons ago served simultaneously as executive producer of three syndicated strips: “Blind Date,” “The Fifth Wheel” and “Rendez-View.”

“Pat Croce,” distributed by Sony Pictures Television, is a half-hour strip featuring author, life coach, entrepreneur and motivational speaker Pat Croce solving problems on location in people’s homes. It’s in essence a mobile talk show.

“This was particularly difficult because I think it’s kind of broken the barrier of what talk shows are,” Mr. Klein said.

Along with breaking a new format comes a horde of logistical issues. Unlike studio-based series, for example, production elements of “Croce” such as lighting are unpredictable on location.

The prime-time reality TV boom also has impacted the production. Mr. Klein said the success of network reality has made it hard to find good editors and story producers, particularly with a talk background. “We’re definitely affected by the lure of network television,” he said. “They have much bigger budgets.”

In addition, the big prizes awarded on network reality shows have skewed expectations of the show’s participants. “We have people say, `You’re not going to give me this, you’re not going to give me that,”‘ Mr. Klein said. “We can’t compete with the wish fulfillment. That’s been a challenge.”

There’s also the potential for host burnout. “Nobody knows Pat Croce goes out every day spending eight hours a day with these families and figuring out where they are and taking it to the next level,” Mr. Klein said. “You can only shoot so much.”

Mr. Klein ultimately worked out a shooting schedule of three weeks on, one week off to allow Mr. Croce to recuperate.

As if that all weren’t enough to make a producer hire himself a life coach, “Croce” also had the handicap of a relatively late green light. “For any show, the clock is a killer,” Mr. Klein said. “Normally you want to start [the launch process] at the end of March; we started at the end of June.”

The show itself makes it all worth it, said Mr. Klein, though he admits to scratching his head sometimes wondering what he got himself into.

“I’ve never been involved in a show that had the chance to help people. It’s a great feeling to be able to do something that actually can give back,” he said. “I’m really proud of this show and glad I did it.”