The primary role of a television producer is to oversee all aspects of video production. Some producers take more of an executive role, in that they conceive new programs and pitch them to the television networks, but upon acceptance they focus on business matters, such as budgets and contracts. Other producers are more involved with the day-to-day workings, participating in activities such as screenwriting, set design, casting, and even directing.
There are a variety of different producers on a television show. A traditional producer is one who manages a show's budget and maintains a schedule, but this is no longer the case in modern television. Currently, the producer and writer are usually the same person.
There are four meanings for the term in North America. The showrunner is the "chief executive"—in charge of everything related to the production of the show. It is the highest ranking individual who is responsible for the development and daily management of the show. Established show creators with prior writing credits are automatically given the title of executive producer, even after they depart the show. Executive producers can be showrunners, head writers, the CEO of the production company that distributes the series, or a producer on the writing staff who has climbed up the ranks.
Second in seniority to executive producer who attends writing team meetings. Most write for the series.
Supervises the creative process in the writing room, and often aids in script re-writes. These people also guide new writers. They usually supervise less experienced story editors and staff writers on the writing team.
A producer can also be the writer of the episode, or a former executive producer who still writes for the show, but has since relinquished his/her duties as E.P. Since producer credits are used for individual episodes, they often require approval from the Writers Guild of America (WGA). Traditional producers, who are responsible for physical facilities, are given the credit of produced by. Most line producers are given the title of produced by.
A writer on the show who may not have written the episode, but contributed significantly through table reads or revisions. Co-producer credits also often require approval from the Writers Guild of America.
This producer manages the show's schedule and arranges the staff into teams.
These producers are former executive or possibly co-executive producers, or in rare cases directors, who no longer work on the show that much. They are called upon to assist the writers, sometimes specializing in a particular subject.
Runs day-to-day operations.
Sources contributors and stories for the program.
For news and talk show production, locates and schedules (or "chases") guests for interviews.
Manages current staff, and finds staff to hire for the production.
Selects areas to film (outside of a television studio) and coordinates stories for a production in the field. They also form a trusting relationship with the cast/participants in order to get interviews while in the field. They may fill a number of different roles, including production manager/coordinator, videographer and also Production assistant.
Oversees the creative and editorial aspects of the program when it is being edited.
Supervises the overall post-production process, including editing, dubbing and grading. Post-producers are typically employed by facilities houses rather than by production companies directly.
In live television or "as-live", an executive producer seldom has any operational control of the show. His/her job is to stand back from the operational aspects and judge the show as an ordinary viewer might.
In film or video productions, the executive producer is almost always given an opportunity to comment on a rough cut but the amount of attention paid to his/her comments is highly dependent on the overall personnel structure of the production.
Writer as "producer"
Because of the restrictions the Writers Guild of America screenwriting credit system places on writing credits, many script writers in television are credited as "producers" instead, even though they may not engage in the responsibilities generally associated with that title. On-screen, a "producer" credit for a TV series will generally be given to each member of the writing staff who made a demonstrable contribution to the final script. The actual producer of the show (in the traditional sense) is listed under the credit "produced by".
Star as "producer"
Sometimes the star of a successful television series can have a degree of influence over the creative process. For example, besides his leading role as Jack Bauer in 24, Kiefer Sutherland was credited as producer during the show's second season, then rising to co-executive producer from season 3 to the last few episodes of season 5, from where he was finally promoted to executive producer. Mark Harmon, star of the series NCIS, serves as one of the show's producers. Similarly, Tom Welling, the star of the CW show Smallville, became co-executive producer for the show in season 9 and executive producer in season 10. House M.D. star Hugh Laurie became co-executive producer for the show in its sixth season.