NYC TV Week: There’s No Recipe For Unscripted TV Hits

But creating a series that is both unique and timely offers a solid starting point

Complete Coverage: NYC Television Week

New York -- Like the nature of unscripted shows themselves, there’s no precise recipe available on how to create a successful reality series, execs tied to the popular TV category said at NYC Television Week Tuesday.

But that did not stop them from offering some advice on how producers and showrunners can break the mold.

Bottom line, always strive to develop a unique offering, since that’s now become the viewer expectation, said David McKillop, executive VP and general manager,  A+E Network, in response to questions from session moderator Dade Hayes, executive editor of Broadcasting & Cable. “The secret is really getting away from that derivative side,” McKillop said.

One trick, added Michael Hirschorn, president and CEO of Ish Entertainment, which has developed and launched series for VH1, We, Oxygen, and YouTube, among others, is to assemble a strong base of your own ideas and sprinkling in input from others. The right mix is “a combination of idealism and cynicism,” he said.

“It’s our job to push the envelope,” said Brent Montgomery, CEO of Leftfield Entertainment, which is behind unscripted series such as Pawn Stars and American Restoration. But once those ideas start to churn out results, the networks sometimes try to constrain further envelope-pushing. “A lot of networks will [then] try to put us back into that box,” he said.

For the full story go to