Tag Archives: Mark Burnett

Roma Downey’s Journey From TV Star to Subtly Superpowered Producer

Roma Downey

As a sidebar to my Mark Burnett cover story in this week’s Adweek, I also spent time with his wife and producing partner, Roma Downey, who talked about transitioning from starring in Touched by an Angel to producing faith-based projects like A.D. The Bible Continues, The Bible and next year’s Ben-Hur reboot alongside her husband. As I wrote,

Downey and Burnett have proven to be an ideal match in business as well as in life, perfecting their own version of good producer/bad producer. “My husband is great at kicking doors down, and sometimes that’s an extraordinarily useful skill. But sometimes a gentle knock on the door is the preferred method of entry,” Downey explains. “And so we’re a good team. Mark is very noisy, and I have a much quieter approach.”

They are quite a formidable duo, and it was a pleasure spending time with them.

Roma Downey’s Journey From TV Star to Subtly Superpowered Producer

How the Reality TV King Created 11 Popular Shows and Counting

Mark Burnett cover

I don’t start at Adweek until Monday, but in the interim I’m back in this week’s issue with my second cover story: an interview with Mark Burnett, TV’s most powerful producer, who is responsible for Survivor, The Voice, Shark Tank, Celebrity Apprentice, A.D. The Bible Continues and many, many more shows. As the British Burnett points out to me, “there’s two things that built America: the Bible and free enterprise. And now I do both. I do A.D. and I do Shark Tank.”

He also knows what viewers want to watch. In the past month alone, his shows have won the night in adults 18-49 (the most important demo for advertisers) on Sunday (A.D.), Monday (The Voice), Tuesday (The Voice), Wednesday (Survivor) and Friday (Shark Tank) — that’s five nights and three different networks.

I’d previously spoken with Burnett for my Parade cover story on Shark Tank, but this time around we talked about all of his shows, his upfront memories (he was on the cover of Adweek’s upfront issue, after all), his surprising OTT plans for his own version of Netflix and the career path not (yet) taken:

“If I wasn’t doing what I’m doing, I would honestly love to run an ad agency. I love the idea of making commercials. I love the idea of winning. Imagine if you’re clever enough to create a campaign and stuff flies off the shelves. That’s why I love The Apprentice. I’d love to be more in the advertising business.”

With more than a dozen shows under his domain, plus movies like next year’s big Ben-Hur reboot, how does Burnett stay focused on a single project when so many others demand his attention?

“It’s not always easy to do, but the correct way to approach everything is like we’re sitting here right now: This is it. So whatever I’m working on is where my focus is. And I can work on three things in a day, but when I’m there, I’m there. The definition of a loser is someone who takes a nap and then feels guilty about it. Do what you’re doing. If you’re going to take a nap, take a nap. If you’re going to work, work.”

And yes, we also talk about that epic beard of his. It was a fantastic, illuminating interview, so I hope you read the rest of it.

How the Reality TV King Created 11 Popular Shows and Counting

Swimming With Sharks: The Moguls of ‘Shark Tank’ Tell All About Making Inventors’ Dreams Come True


At long last, you can finally read the Shark Tank cover story for Parade that I’ve been working so long and hard on! I spent time with all six Sharks — Lori Greiner, Daymond John, Robert Herjavec, Mark Cuban, Kevin O’Leary and Barbara Corcoran — and also talked with executive producer Mark Burnett and several of the show’s most successful entrepreneurs. The result is what I think is the definitive Shark Tank story, for newbies and die-hard fans alike!

Shark Tank is one of the quietest successful stories on TV. Ratings have steadily grown each season, which is unprecedented, especially for a reality show. As I wrote at Parade,

In short, the country hasn’t been this shark-obsessed since Jaws. “It’s what America stands for. Everybody’s got a dream,” says executive producer Mark Burnett, who also oversees Survivor and The Voice. Sony Pictures Television produces the show and adapted it from the Japanese-based reality format known in most countries as Dragons’ Den. “It says a lot about the psyche of our culture: Crazy things are possible, even in a down economy,” adds Amy Cosper, editor in chief of Entrepreneur magazine. “Entrepreneurs see things that others don’t.”

I’m really proud of how this one turned out, and hope you all enjoy it!





Swimming With Sharks: The Moguls of Shark Tank Tell All About Making Inventors’ Dreams Come True

Mexican Wrestling is Coming to American TV

mexican wrestling

I certainly didn’t expect to be writing about lucha libre wrestling at press tour, but I was inspired by a panel for Robert Rodriguez’s just-launched El Rey Network, about bring lucha libre to the U.S. with a new league and a new series. As I wrote,

If things go as Burnett hopes, he can tap into the US’s billion-dollar wrestling industry—so lucrative that World Wrestling Entertainment just announced the February launch of its own WWE Network, a 24/7 online streaming service offering access to past wrestling shows and all of its upcoming WWE pay-per-view events.

Burnett said, “It’s going to be epic.” Well, at the very least, it’s going to be interesting.

Mexican wrestling is coming to American TV