It's true that Jay McGraw got a head start in television because his father is syndication sensation Dr. Phil McGraw. But it's one thing to get a push; it's another to sustain the momentum.
McGraw, 29, created and is the executive producer of CBS Television Distribution's The Doctors, a show that has defied expectations by continuing to grow its ratings all season long. The show features a panel of four doctors—sort of a View with physicians—talking about trends, topics and the medical news of the day.
“The show really created itself,” McGraw says. “We received a lot of e-mails at the Dr. Phil show asking these sorts of questions. We started answering them, and that worked so well that we decided we needed to create an entirely new show around that idea.”
Since its premiere last fall, viewership of The Doctors has grown more than 60%. The show opened at a 1.3 live-plus-same-day national household rating, according to Nielsen Media Research, and peaked at a 2.1. In its rookie year, it's now the fifth-ranked talk show.
“For me, Jay brought a fresh perspective to syndication,” says Terry Wood, CTD's president of creative affairs and development. “He had a real passion for the show and a real desire to bring his ideas to life.”
McGraw didn't just walk onto the CBS lot and become an executive producer. He'd long worked in his father's companies—first at Courtroom Sciences, and later at Dr. Phil as a correspondent and then producer.
He also wrote best-selling books, such as Life Strategies for Teens, while in college and in law school. Those books landed him on the Today show and other high-profile programs. When he finished law school, he moved to Los Angeles, where he began working on Dr. Phil and taking other jobs, including hosting the Fox reality show Renovate My Family.
In an industry where syndicated programming is often overlooked, McGraw feels he's found his niche.
“I had done a lot of TV before moving to L.A., but as a guest,” he says. “When you grow up in Dallas, you don't really consider TV as a career option because you aren't around it. When I came out here and was around it, I realized that TV was a lot of hard work but it's a lot of fun, too. You have to have fun doing what you do, and I definitely have fun doing this.
“I love daytime,” he adds. “I think it's a great genre of television. I love the idea that we are partners with all of these television stations across the country.” —Paige Albiniak