Tag Archives: Shark Tank

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

Schoolhouse Rock

My 10 Favorite Stories of 2014

During TV & Not TV’s week-long look at the Best (and Worst) of 2014, I’ve discussed the best shows of the year, the top performances, the biggest disappointments and named the year’s TV VIPs. Today, we’re concluding the week with something a little different: my 10 favorite stories of 2014.

Let me explain: the reason I founded TV & Not TV in the first place was to finally compile all of my stories in one place, because it’s been easy for them to slip through the cracks, even for those who follow me on Twitter. So today, I’ve picked my 10 favorite stories I wrote this year — a mixture of profiles, reviews and analysis, for four different outlets. In case you missed any of them, here’s your chance to catch up!

Here we go, in chronological order:


Swimming with Sharks: The Moguls of ‘Shark Tank’ Tell All About Making Inventors’ Dreams Come True (Parade, March 15)

Shark Tank has been one of the quietest success stories on television, with ratings growing steadily each season, which is unprecedented, especially for a reality show. It’s also largely been overlooked by most outlets who write about TV, which is why I was so thrilled to write the definitive story on the show and its six Sharks — Lori Greiner, Daymond John, Robert Herjavec, Mark Cuban, Kevin O’Leary and Barbara Corcoran — for Parade

(While the link above will take you to the main story, you can find the whole thing, including sidebars on all the Sharks, here.)

agents of shield s1

How ‘Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD’ Finally Found Its Way (The Daily Beast, May 14)

No series arrived this season with more hype, and more disappointment, than Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD. But then, thanks to a huge assistant from the twist in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, SHIELD finally became the thrilling show it was always supposed to be. In this Daily Beast review of Season 1, I looked at show’s rocky first season, and its improbable comeback.

why most tv shows peak

Why Most TV Shows Peak by Their Third Season (Quartz, July 19)

You just never know where I great story idea is going to come from. During a Brooklyn Nine-Nine set visit last summer, I spoke with executive producer Mike Schur, whose fascinating thoughts on why most shows peak by their second or third season became my favorite TCA summer press tour story (especially after I paired Schur’s take with that of Modern Family creator Steve Levitan).


How Amazon Built a Studio That’s Finally Challenging Netflix (Quartz, Aug. 12)

I had so many questions about Amazon Studios and the company’s strategy — How does it measure success? Why don’t it disclose ratings info? How does the public pilot process really work? Why didn’t Amazon pick up Community or Enlisted? — and director Roy Price answered them all for me in this Quartz story on the eve of Amazon’s third pilot season.

youre the worst

‘You’re the Worst’: TV’s Best Couple is Awful and Perfect For Each Other (The Daily Beast, Aug. 21)

Some shows are so fantastic that I feel as if I have no choice but to sing their praises to as many people as possible. That’s the main reason that I pushed so hard this summer to review You’re the Worst‚ which ended up as one of my Top 10 Shows of 2014. If you’re still on the fence, read my review, and then start watching!


Joan Rivers Pulled Off Hollywood’s Greatest Comeback (Quartz, Sept. 5)

As Hollywood mourned the death of Joan Rivers, I appreciated the opportunity to recount how she pulled off Hollywood’s greatest comeback, by clawing her way back into the spotlight after Johnny Carson had turned his back on her. While most of her obituaries focused on her work as a trailblazer for female comics, her dogged journey after being blackballed by Carson was equally spectacular.

Schoolhouse Rock

‘Schoolhouse Rock’: A Trojan Horse of Knowledge and Power (The Daily Beast, Sept. 6)

As I started thinking about which stories would make up my list, this was the first one I wrote down. To celebrate ABC’s upcoming Schoolhouse Rock special, I reflected on the show’s lasting legacy — it was an essential part of my Saturday mornings as a kid — for The Daily Beast, and managed to get my two kids hooked on the show in the process. I’d call that a win-win. Even after all these years, knowledge is still power!

mark harmon

‘NCIS’s’ Mark Harmon is the World’s Biggest TV Star (The Daily Beast, Sept. 23)

Sometimes, the best stories fall into your lap when you least expect them. While I was at People, I spent years unsuccessfully trying to land an interview with Mark Harmon, who rarely grants interviews. But this summer, I was given some face time with Harmon, and turned that into a somewhat unconventional Daily Beast profile of the world’s biggest, yet most humble, TV star.   

marvel agents shield adweek

Why a Great Second Season is Often Too Late to Save a Struggling Show (Adweek, Nov. 11)

Since I began contributing to Adweek this fall, I’ve been tacking some TV issues that have been bugging me for months and years, like why shows that improve by their second season — like Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD and FX’s The Bridge — aren’t able to win back viewers who bailed on them in year one. FX Networks CEO John Landraf had great insight (as always) about why this happens, and also shed more light on his agonizing decision to cancel The Bridge.


Why Kim Kardashian is the World’s Best Marketer (Quartz, Nov. 13)

Given that I’d gone on a Kim Kardashian detox after leaving a certain job last year, If you told me I’d be writing a story A) praising Kim Kardashian B) for Quartz C) calling her “brilliant” and admiring her “acumen,” I would have said you’d lost your mind. But I surrendered after her Paper magazine cover went viral — and then again 24 hours later. The result: the only Kardashian story I’ve ever written or edited (and there have been a lot over the years) that I actually enjoyed!

And that — phew! — concludes my look back at 2014. Here’s hoping that TV in 2015 is even better!

‘Shark Tank’ Video Interviews

Just when you though it was safe to go back in the water … there’s even more Shark Tank material! Parade has posted the video interviews I conducted with the six Sharks after the photo shoot.

In the first video, I asked them to weigh in on why Shark Tank is so popular.

In the second video, they tell me what makes a successful Shark Tank pitch.

And with that, it’s finally time for me to leave the Shark Tank. What a fantastic story this was to work on — I had a blast!

Why is Shark Tank So Popular?: The Sharks Weigh In

What Makes for a Successful Shark Tank Pitch?

Meet the Sharks From ‘Shark Tank’


As part of my extensive Parade cover story on Shark Tank, I wrote up sidebars on each of the six Sharks, packed with info about what makes them tick. Here they are:

Shark Tank’s Barbara Corcoran on the Deal She’s Proudest Of 

Shark Tank’s Mark Cuban: “I Didn’t Think the Show Would Last!” 

Shark Tank’s Lori Greiner: ‘I Don’t Pick People Who Are Just Using the Show for Publicity’ 

Shark Tank’s Robert Herjavec: ‘Don’t Mistake My Kindness for Weakness’ 

Shark Tank’s Daymond John on the Hollywood Star Who Loves the Sharks

Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary: ‘You’ve Got to Know the Numbers—Or I Will Eviscerate You’ 

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

‘Shark Tank’: The TV Hit That’s Reinventing the American Dream


I’m so excited to finally share the mystery story I’ve spent much of the past six weeks immersed in: my latest Parade cover, on the hit ABC reality competition show Shark Tank.

I spent time with all six Sharks — Lori Greiner, Daymond John, Robert Herjavec, Mark Cuban, Kevin O’Leary and Barbara Corcoran — for the cover story. The whole thing will go online tomorrow, but Parade has posted a cover tease today, including an explanation of what happens after the Sharks close the deals they make on the show:

After the deals close, the real work begins for the Sharks. “Filming is the easiest part,” says Cuban. “The hardest part is that you actually have to have a connection and help these companies.” That fact has helped the Sharks change the country’s perception of business moguls, who have long been equated with the toxic likes of Wall Street’s Gordon “Greed Is Good” Gekko. “We’re entrepreneurs helping fledgling businesspeople,” says Greiner. Adds Herjavec, “Shark Tank shows you don’t have to be a jerk to be successful.”

Look for much more tomorrow!

Shark Tank: The TV Hit That’s Reinventing the American Dream