[CABLE TV] TBS's Christy Kwon Kreisberg
- Up the Ladder
For Turner's Kreisberg, success comes naturally one step at a time
By Anne Becker -- Broadcasting & Cable, 5/30/2005
Christy Kwon Kreisberg hunts for hits for TBS. But her own story
about getting into the biz sounds a lot like the big Steven
Spielberg limited series airing this summer on sister net TNT: Into
Kreisberg, VP of original programming/series at Turner's TBS, was
reared in St. Louis and never thought she would end up in Los
Angeles. But after graduating with a degree in English from Boston
College, she followed a TV job lead from a friend of a friend out
"It was completely one of those things where I just headed west,"
says the comedy guru and mother of two. "I came out here and fell in
After stints as a segment producer and researcher for Kushner-Locke
Co. and coordinator for sports agency IMG, she moved on to assisting
the VP of television production at Dick Clark Productions from 1992
to 1994. Working on shows like The Golden Globe Awards, she met a
treasure trove of VIPsexecutives at ABC, NBC, CBSand her husband,
who is a TV director.
NBC IN ITS PRIME
She was recruited for a junior-executive position at NBC
Entertainment and, after a year of interviewing, she joined the
network at its prime as director of specials, prime time series and
late night. In her small department, Kreisberg played a big role in
overseeing including The 50th Annual Emmy Awards. She also got to
help produce such shows as Seinfeld, then considered an alternative
program for its heavy reliance on standup.
A few years later, she jumped to cable. She joined TBS in Los
Angeles in 1999 as director of original programming/series at a time
cable originals were still fairly few and far between.
"I did a little homework and thought it might be a great opportunity
to start in the cable business, especially if I could be there at
the beginning," Kreisberg says.
LOOKING FOR LAUGHS
The risk paid off. After an initial foray into originals with
Ripley's Believe It or Not! and Outback Jack, both of which
Kreisberg helped develop and produce, TBS has found a niche with
comedy, and top talent, such as David and Courteney Cox Arquette,
now seek out the network to produce their shows.
New projects include the second installment of The Real Gilligan's
Island, July's reality series Minding the Store and this fall's docu-
spoof Daisy Does America, from Coquette Productions.
"In cable, you take more risks than in broadcast," Kreisberg
says. "We're more able to change and move and make decisions after
we see what the product brings."
Kreisberg, 39, takes three pitch meetings a dayone in the morning
and two in the afternoon. In her search for strong comedic concepts
or characters, she has seen proposals as strange as a highly
conceptualized special on the history of duct tape.
"I remember thinking there was a hidden camera in that meeting," she
jokes. "But over the years, I've learned I'd rather see a producer
be really passionateget it, breathe it, know the storythan come in
with 17 projects when it's just volume to them."
Says her boss Steve Koonin, executive VP/COO for TBS and
TNT, "Christy has been a driving force behind TBS' success with
original series. We are very lucky to have her in our corner as she
continues to take TBS to new heights."
Kreisberg says balancing the job with being a mom to daughter and
son, ages 4 and 7, respectively, is a constant strugglebut she
wouldn't have it any other way. She regularly drives morning
carpool, taking work calls from the car.
In fact, Kreisberg has found Turner to be a mom-friendly place to
work. Her children visit the office often, and the company's working
moms trade tips on how to balance family and work.
"We commiserate and share our triumphs and struggles," she says. "I
have an incredible support system."
"I probably wouldn't know what to do if I wasn't working because I
love my job," Kreisberg says, "but it's a constant juggling act."
Her advice to women comes from her own mentor, Linda Mancuso, the
late head of programming for ABC Family and an NBC veteran
"She always said to me, 'Don't ever think you can't have a job a man
has or get paid as much as a man even though people will tell you
can't,'" Kreisberg remembers. "Bite the bullet in the beginning if
it means being a runner or a production assistant for a week, six
months, a year. Do it, meet a ton of people, and keep going and
going and going. People do succeed."