Angela Bromstad knew she had a knack for picking hits while working her first job in the business. As an assistant to Frank Konigsberg and Larry Sanitsky at Telepictures Productions in the mid ’80s, she read galleys and scripts when not answering phone calls. After reading Nicholas Pileggi’s mafia biography, Wiseguy, she urged Konigsberg to inquire about buying the film rights.
Konigsberg followed Bromstad’s advice, only to find that Martin Scorsese had beat him to the punch. The director went on to adapt the book into the hit movie Goodfellas.
But that ability to recognize—and realize—hits has propelled Bromstad into her role as president of NBC Universal Television Studios, currently enjoying a hot streak with critical and ratings hits Fox’s House, NBC’s Heroes and Sci Fi’s remake of Battlestar Galactica.
“BIG BREAK” AT ROTHSTEIN PRODUCTIONS
A fervent reader of novels, Bromstad grew up working in her mother’s bookstore in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, Calif., while harboring aspirations to be an actress. After parlaying her passion for reading into the job with Telepictures, she became a director of creative affairs with Freyda Rothstein Productions.
Bromstad calls Rothstein (who died in 2001) her mentor and credits her with launching her career: “She just kind of took me in and gave me my big break.”
Under Rothstein’s tutelage, Bromstad learned the business, producing several made-for-TV movies for network and cable with such pot-boiling titles as Eyes of Terror. And though Bromstad is known for her affability, she admits to inheriting some of Rothstein’s less diplomatic traits.
“She couldn’t help herself from being honest, and I have definitely adopted that,” Bromstad says. “I have a tendency—to this day, if something is off course—to drop a bomb with a random call or e-mail. So [my employees] are never totally relaxed.”
In 1994, Bromstad made the move to NBC Entertainment, initially working in miniseries and TV movies, and has risen through the NBC ranks ever since.
“She’s great,” says House creator David Shore. “There are good ones and not so good ones, but she’s smart and funny and gets it.”
Despite her winning record, Bromstad, like every other entertainment executive in Hollywood, says her greatest fear is that the next hit show will appear on a rival network. Once dismissive of other networks’ programming, she says that fear inspires her to pay close attention to the competition.
“I just don’t want to be blindsided again by the next big thing like Lost or Desperate Housewives,” she says.
A “CLEAR DIRECTION” AT THE NETWORK
Bromstad also has steered the studio to success even as its parent company has gone through a period of well documented cutbacks and challenges. And while there will always be conversations about the network and studio’s merging into one entity, Bromstad says the best thing for both now is a period of stability.
“For the first time in years, we have a clear direction at the network,” she says.
Given her reputation as a solid leader and the number of hits under her belt, Bromstad is often mentioned as a candidate to run a network. Although she would certainly entertain an offer, she doesn’t relish the idea of taking on the unique pressures of the position.
“The minute you walk in the door as a network president, you have a target on your back,” she says. “Of course it is flattering to hear your name, but I like to create the product and hand it off. I am not the ideal person to decide what to put up against American Idol.”