It's that most wonderful time of the year for showrunners. After living with a pilot for a year (or more, in some instances), and after working non-stop for most of the summer on the subsequent segs, the climax of the campaign comes down to one night, one hour or half-hour during the Long March known to non-pros as Premiere Week.
Of course, it's rarely all over (but the shoutin') for a new show after week one, but those first overnights set a certain tone for frosh shows that can be very hard to overcome. This time around, there's no more active theater in the 2007-08 campaign than Wednesday night. And while most of the recent industry chatter has focused on the fates ABC's "Pushing Daisies" and NBC's "Bionic Woman," ABC also has a high-roller bowing in the 10 p.m. slot in "Dirty Sexy Money." "Dirty Sexy" (costar Seth Gabel pictured at left) has a secret weapon in exec producer Greg Berlanti, who has shot up the short list of uber-showrunners during the past few years, particularly after he parachuted in to save "Brothers & Sisters" for the Alphabet net last season.
According to the tao of Greg, when the nerves begin to jingle-jangle as the premiere date approaches, the only thing a showrunner can do is breathe deep and keep focused on the next script in the pipeline.
"What I always get excited about at this time of year is that it's almost out of your hands," Berlanti said last week when asked to reflect on his pre-premiere rituals. "You have to say to yourself: 'Have I done everything I can to get this ship to shore?' And then you just have to keep working. The great thing is that once you're on the air, you're communicating directly with the audience. There's nothing that fuels you more than having people finally see the stuff you've been working on for a year. That is a really great second wind. I always look forward to that part of it."
In addition to running "Dirty Sexy" with fellow exec producers Craig Wright (creator of the family soap) and Josh Reims, he's been getting his own spiritually-themed drama "Eli Stone" ready for a midseason debut on ABC. Ask anyone who's ever worked with him: Berlanti (pictured right) is not only a hell of a showrunner, but wise beyond his years.
"I learned a long time ago that it's either the right time for that show or it's not. If you're controlling everything you can quality-wise, then it really comes down to a timing issue. Is this what people want to watch at this time? Is it the time for this kind of thing?," he says. "If it is it’s a hit -- whether it's small hit, a reliable hit or humongous hit -- it is the right time for that show, even if it's not a great show. If it's not the right moment at the right time on the right network, the show probably won't work. If you think about it that way, then you can not take it so personally."
All that said, Berlanti assures, "Dirty Sexy" viewers are in for a great ride, starting Wednesday. "It's smarter than the average soap," he says, with confidence.