On Wednesday, November 30, David Madden, President of Entertainment at Fox Broadcasting, held a Q & A for students perusing degrees in Acting, Directing, and Filmmaking. Madden has helped bring shows like “The Americans,” “The Killing,” “Burn Notice,” “The Shield,” “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” “Pitch,” and the forthcoming “Star” from Lee Daniels to televisions in living rooms around the country.
Hollywood Producer, NYFA Director of Industry Lecture Series, Tova Laiter hosted the evening alongside NYFA Screenwriting Instructor, David O’Leary, whose script, “Blue Book,” was just purchased by the History Channel and will be produced by Robert Zemeckis’ ImageMovers.
Madden’s role at Fox is multifaceted. Scripted programming, alternative entertainment and casting all fall under his jurisdiction. In the past, he worked for Paramount Pictures based Madden Company where he produced more than twenty films.
“We have 15 hours of primetime programming every week, 52 weeks a year. Pretty much everything is original whether it’s scripted or reality,” Madden explained. “Every single program that goes on the air in prime time, I oversee. I read every script of the scripted programs. I watch every episode of the reality shows. I watch every cut of every show. I’m responsible for the development and I’m responsible for the casting. My job is simply to make the shows.”
When asked about the current state of network television in the age of streaming and premium cable, Madden didn’t feel that broadcast was facing any trouble. While, yes, they compete with these new service providers, economically, broadcast has to reach a wide audience in the millions. Madden doesn’t feel that means sacrificing quality. “Being populist and being good are not mutually exclusive,” he said. Also, historically, Fox has always been more subversive and positioned in between traditional networks and cable.
One student asked, “With the number of TV shows being produced now do you believe the quality of actor being hired is less, in order to fill roles?”
“I sure hope not,” Madden said. With most shows green-lit during pilot season in January, landing the right actor for the right role during this time can be very challenging. The upside is that new actors are afforded more opportunities than ever (as well as writers). “We are always looking for material and new talent, but they have to, legally, come to us via the right channels.”
The New York Film Academy would like to thank Mr. Madden for taking the time to speak with our students.