American television has traditionally been perceived as a producer’s medium with the executive producer/showrunner overseeing all elements of the series’ production. Within TV drama, this role has increasingly become associated with the writer as the majority of showrunners enter television production from a writer’s background. For instance, of the 24 producers profiled and interviewed in James L. Longwor th Jr.’s two-part publication on TV Creators, 22 of them began working in television as writers, with only 2—Barry Levinson and Ed Zwick—better known as directors. Roberta Pearson argues that the most successful of these writer-producers, or “hyphenateauteurs” as she describes them, have, within an increasingly competitive broadcast landscape, been granted greater creative freedom over their television series, positioning writers such as Aaron Sorkin, Tina Fey, David Simon, Joss Whedon, and Alan Ball, to name just a few, as auteurs within the television industry (17). This stands in contrast to the cinema where the director is usually held to be the leading creative force and/or auteur, overseeing all aspects of a film’s production and binding the creative elements together into one coherent vision. On television, however, the director holds a secondary position, often hired on an episode-by-episode basis and with less input to the overall vision of the show, as compared to the writer-producer. As a result, the role and contribution of the television director remains an underexamined area within contemporary television studies.
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