A flair for the dramas
Television lets Dwyer-Dobbin satisfy her passion for theater, career
By Steve McClellan -- Broadcasting & Cable, 5/5/2002 8:00:00 PM
After a brief flirtation with teaching in the mid 1960s, followed by a stint in professional theater, Mickey Dwyer-Dobbin, who now oversees Procter & Gamble's daytime soap operas, found her calling: television.
She was a stage manager looking for the next gig when it hit her: Theaters often go dark. Despite a passion for the stage, Dwyer-Dobbin realized that television—with its constant need for programming, and people to produce it—might just satisfy both her flair for the dramatic and her professional ambitions.
She was right. Of course, she learned early on that TV programming has its own unpredictable rhythm—a rhythm that can end abruptly. She learned that lesson first at game-show maker Bob Stewart Productions, where she worked on three game shows, each having 13 weeks of fame before being axed.
After two years of producing game shows, Dwyer-Dobbin tried her hand at animation, joining Rankin/Bass Productions and producing a show called Festival of Family Classics, specifically designed to fulfill the new Prime Time Access Rule. Three years later, the company, which had had a boatload of cartoons on the NBC and ABC Saturday-morning schedules, suddenly had none. "I got married that season. People at Rankin/Bass would be asked, so what are you working on this year, and they'd say we're producing Mickey's wedding," she jokes.
The good news was that Dwyer-Dobbin almost immediately landed a job developing daytime shows at ABC. One of the shows she helped birth was Ryan's Hope. In '76, she was promoted to director of children's programming and, that season, brought to air the Emmy-winning daytime special My Mom's Having a Baby, which the network subsequently broadcast in prime time.
A year later, she jumped to NBC as director of daytime and kids programming and was subsequently promoted to vice president, children's programming. Remember the Smurfs? Credit Dwyer-Dobbin with bringing them to the Peacock web.
In '81, Dwyer-Dobbin took on her most challenging assignment yet: vice president, programming, for cable-network startup Daytime, which merged with the Cable Health Network in '83 to create Lifetime. "It was a lot of fun," she recalls of the startup. "We would sit in meetings with [ABC founder] Leonard Goldenson and [former ABC president] Fred Pierce, and they would say this is just like it was back in the beginning of television."
Dwyer-Dobbin returned to ABC Daytime has head of East Coast programs in 1986 and soon became executive in charge of all programming and development for the division.
At the top of her short list of mentors is Dennis Swanson, to whom she reported when she was senior vice president, ABC Daytime, from '91 to '93. "I probably learned the most from Dennis. He taught me to go after it. He taught me that winning is important," she recalls.
"She did a great job for me," says Swanson, now general manager at WNBC(TV) New York, describing her as "tireless," "hands-on" and "tough. I had more fun working with Mickey. She just had an energy and a creative level" that were unsurpassed, he says. ABC's daytime had been slipping when he took it over, and he gives her "a lot of credit" for getting it back on track.
In 1994, Dwyer-Dobbin started a two-year sabbatical, during which she read, traveled, basically did her own thing, she says.
At the end of it, she joined P&G to run the company's soaps. She's still at it and having fun, too. Winning helps. Since she joined the company, its As the World Turns has garnered eight Emmys, including outstanding drama series in 2001.
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