Fast tracks don’t come much faster than the track enjoyed by Eric Schrier, VP of current series and alternative programming at FX.
Mr. Schrier went from agency temp to executive assistant to network programming executive in three years. It’s a meteoric rise, as Mr. Schrier is the first to admit.
“It’s been pretty amazing. I can’t believe it myself,” Mr. Schrier said. “I’m 29 years old and I get to work with amazing showrunners on amazing shows.”
It’s less surprising when looking at Mr. Schrier’s impressive industry pedigree. His father, Dan Schrier, was an ICM packaging agent for 20 years. His grandfather, Morris Schrier, was secretary and general counsel for MCA. So when Mr. Schrier graduated from USC film school in 1998, he went straight to working as a temp “floater” at Creative Artists Agency, answering phones for executives.
“All the information flows through the agencies,” he said. “It was a great experience. Most agents I deal with now, I answered their phones at one point.”
After only nine months at the agency, Mr. Schrier was introduced to Brillstein-Grey executive Kevin Reilly, who needed a new assistant. He took the job. When Mr. Reilly was hired as entertainment president of FX in 2000, he invited Mr. Schrier to come along.
“My first impulse was: ‘What’s FX?'” Mr. Schrier said, noting this was before the network had any breakout hits. “It was a tough decision at the time. I decided to go because of my relationship with Kevin. It was the best decision I ever made.”
In 2001, Mr. Schrier was put in charge of covering “The Shield” and given an executive title: manager of current series. At age 24, he was acting as liaison between network executives and producers.
“He was answering the phone for Kevin Reilly one second, then saying, ‘Here’s what you need to do’ the next,” joked “The Shield” creator Shawn Ryan. “But he’s always exceedingly polite and respectful. He doesn’t feel like a company shill. He’s put some of his credibility on the line to fight for things that are important to me. [And] he doesn’t feel the need to piss on something to make it his own.”
In 2003, Mr. Reilly was wooed from FX by NBC Studios, where he became president of prime-time development. This time, however, Mr. Schrier elected not to follow his mentor. He was rewarded last year with a promotion to his current position.
FX continues to appeal to him, he said, because he’s a fan of the programming. “I watch the shows I work on,” he said.
While Mr. Schrier has overseen the development of several FX series, this summer marks the debut of programming that he helped select and develop from conception, a proposition he finds nerve-wracking. “I’m passing out every night with a script on my chest, but it’s exciting,” he said.
The first of these shows, the docu-reality series “30 Days,” debuted last month. The next few months will see the premieres of “Over There,” set in Iraq, and the network’s first comedy block. FX has struggled with comedy in the past, with scripted efforts such as “Lucky” and reality comedy “Todd TV” failing to find audiences.
“I’m very confident about ‘Over There,’ and the return of ‘Nip/Tuck’ and ‘Rescue Me,'” Mr. Schrier said. “I’m nervous about the comedy block. It will be interesting to see if an audience wants to come to FX to see a wider comedic story.”
Looking forward, Mr. Schrier would like to continue rising through the television ranks. But he finds his current level of success a bit startling. “I never thought I would be where I am today,” he said. “It’s a little absurd.”
Title: VP of current series and alternative programming, FX
Date of birth: Dec. 20, 1975
Place of birth: New York
Big break: Being hired as assistant to then Brillstein-Grey executive Kevin Reilly
Who knew? Mr. Schrier likes to garden. “It’s a way to get my mind off things,” he said.