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Lighting up the night

8/20/2000 08:00:00 PM Eastern

Gary Considine has always needed to be busy. And he's been just that, overseeing so many productions he claims he can't remember even half of them.

Over the last 18 years, Considine has been in charge of some of NBC's top hits, from Saturday Night Live to the Fresh Prince of Bel Air.

He now runs the network's late-night programming division, including The Tonight Show With Jay Leno and he's the executive producer of NBC's lone first-run syndication effort, Access Hollywood.

Considine also takes a writer director and executive producer credit on NBC's Friday Night and he's director and executive producer of the nightly series Later.

For 11 years, he flew back and forth to New York nearly every weekend to supervise production of Saturday Night Live-writing scripts and considering ideas for other NBC programs in-flight.

"I'm one of those guys who has never planned out stuff. I've just been a major workaholic my entire life and I've sacrificed a whole lot in terms of vacations and whatever hours it took to be here with sitcoms and everything else we do," says the 46-year-old executive.

Considine has been work-driven since his childhood days in McKeesport, Pa., where as a high school student growing up poor, he earned scholarship opportunities to several schools.

He chose UCLA and from the moment he arrived at the Los Angeles campus in 1972, he was hopping.

Considine became manager of the campus store, received an undergraduate degree in political science, then an MBA, and also worked as project and marketing director for the student association.

"It was great. I became a cashier the first day as a freshman and never looked back," he says. "And I would run up to grad school for a class and then run back down to the student store.

"UCLA was my entire life for 11 years."

In 1981, after the men's basketball team got into trouble with the NCAA, he was named associate athletic director, but at the end of the 1983 football season, Considine heard of a job opening in NBC's finance department. "I felt I had done it in intercollegiate sports and I had an MBA and wanted to use it.

"Funny thing was, I had always avoided the entertainment industry because I had read a book that said it was full of people who lied and everything."

Despite the warnings, Considine started as NBC's director of finance and administration. It wasn't much like UCLA.

"It was a little different, a little slower," he now says with a laugh. "So I then kept filling up my time by taking on more and more and that's how I sort of moved up."

He added everything from advertising and marketing financial chores to those of the creative services area. It wasn't enough.

In 1986, he considered rejoining the sports world but several NBC executives, including the late NBC Entertainment President Brandon Tartikoff, talked him into staying.

"So, ''he says, " in August 1986, I moved over to NBC Productions."

Considine started as director of production operations for NBC's in-house studio, a division that was just starting to grow. One of his early projects was a prime time comedy special starring Jay Leno, who was then a fill-in host for Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show, and would later become a big part of Considine's career at NBC.

Considine quickly moved up the executive ladder, and in May 1991 landed as senior vice president and executive in charge of production.

In 1996, when Don Ohlmeyer took over as NBC's West Coast president, Considine went to Ohlmeyer and asked him to create a position that would allow him to oversee only late-night and syndicated programming. Ohlmeyer obliged and Considine took on his current title, executive producer of NBC Studios.

"Working with Don was just fantastic, because he is a showman as well as a business man," Considine explains.

Since taking over the late-night arena, Considine has helped lead NBC to first place among all networks, with Leno's Tonight Show as the top program in all of late-night television.

Two years ago he gave up his trips to New York for Saturday Night Live and Late Night with Conan O'Brien to focus on Access Hollywood.

A busy guy, but Considine says he could be busier. "I'm a guy who loves a lot of production and being super busy," he says. "I would love to have more shows under my belt. I want more and I can do more. That's just me."

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