In TV parlance (at least in the US and Canada; it’s less common in the UK), the ‘Show Runner‘ is the term used for the person in charge of an episodic series – yes, even outranking the director. They’re typically credited with an Executive Producer role, and are often the creator of the show. Famous examples include Joss Whedon on Buffy, Aaron Sorkin on The West Wing, David Simon on The Wire and (a UK example) Russell T. Davies on Dr. Who.
Over the course of the last year, I’ve been asked several times how we resolve creative disputes, and I’ve often used this term to help describe our approach to the day-to-day running of projects here at Denki: it’s the person with ultimate responsibility for a project and the creative authority on that project.
Show runners take feedback from the production team, the network, actors, writers. They process it, figuring out what applies to the show to make it better, and what doesn’t. Then they apply it.
There are a number of articles which can give greater insight to this world than I can, and I recommend you read them (warning: some language not safe for sensitive eyes):
- The Show Must Be Run by Kurt Sutter
- Jason Katims’ 12 Showrunner Rules (Katims runs Friday Night Lights)
- Don and Betty’s Paradise Lost gives an insight to behind the scenes of Mad Men