About Gail Berman
Born Aug. 17, 1956, Berman graduated from the University of Maryland in 1978. She parlayed an interest in drama and her managerial skills of get things done into a prolific career in theater. In 1982, she produced a run on Broadway of the highly successful "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," which last nearly two years. She also produced a smaller production, "Almost an Eagle," around the same time. With some long-time friends and associates, she formed a theater company called Estrin Rose Berman Productions, which produced "Hurlyburly," from 1984-85, and "Blood Knot," from 1985-86.
Berman soon worked her way into television, landing a job as an executive at an early version of Comedy Central, where she was an executive producer on the short-lived series "The Sweet Life" in 1989. She then executive produced the Lifetime Channel made-for-television movie, "A Child Lost Forever: The Jerry Sherwood Story" in 1992.
Soon thereafter, she moved on to Sandollar Television, where she developed the Margaret Cho vehicle "All-American Girl," (ABC, 1994); the Dolly Parton Christmas-themed "Unlikely Angel," (DVD, 1996)' and the short-lived series "Social Studies" (UPN, 1997). It was also at Sandollar, that Berman was involved in her first smash hit for TV - "Buffy: The Vampire Slayer" (The WB/UPN, 1997-2003) - a show that was not only a rating success, but spun off a whole cult following. As executive producer of the show, she watched as the show clicked with viewers, due in part to its winning combination of teen angst and the supernatural. Sensing a franchise, Berman also produced the show's successful spin-off, "Angel" (WB, 1999-2004).
Considered a rising star and a top executive, with her founding role in Regency TV, a joint venture between Newscorp. and New Regency, Berman was brought into the Fox Network in 2000, where she quickly rose through the ranks to president. Under her supervision, the network flourished with shows such as "Malcolm in the Middle" (2000-06) "The Bernie Mac Show" (2001- ) and "24" (2001- ). Her hot streak continued with the critically acclaimed comedy, "Arrested Development" (2003-06) - a show which was eventually cancelled due to poor ratings, but hung in as long as it could, due to its critical acclaim and small but devoted following. She followed these hits with even more hits, including greenlighting the teen hit "The O.C." (2003- ) and the Emmy-nominated, quirky drama, "House" (2004- ).
In reality programming at Fox, she captured lightning in a bottle with the enormously successful "American Idol" (2002- ) - a franchise which only grew in popularity with each subsequent season - but drew criticism for such shows as "The Next Joe Millionaire," the flop follow-up to the more successful 2003 original, and "The Littlest Groom," (2004) which some critics derided as exploitative.
Berman was also recognized for her innovative decision to break the mold of traditional scheduling - where all networks normally debut programming in the same few weeks in the fall - with her innovative strategy to introduce several Fox shows in the summer, typically a lethal time for television in general. Her gamble generated mixed results, with most shows failing to capture an audience, but she remained firm in her declaration that viewers were ready for new shows all year long - not just in the fall.
In 2006, Berman made headlines beyond just Variety trades when she was named president of Paramount Pictures. He appointment lead to heavy insider speculation as to her ability to transition effectively to feature films, especially with the fate of a major studio, undergoing heavy restructuring, riding on her shoulders. The first feature film initiated and released under her watch was the profitable 2005 Jack Black vehicle "Nacho Libre," directed by Jared Hess, in his first feature coming off the blockbuster success of his small indie comedy smash "Napoleon Dynamite." (2004). To the delight of Trekkies 'round the world, her next notable effort as president was in hiring "Lost" (ABC, 2004- ) creator J.J. Abrams to resurrect in feature film form the popular "Star Trek" franchise, anticipated for 2008.
Adding to her already impressive resume, Berman was ranked number five on The Hollywood Reporter list of the "100 Most Powerful Women in Entertainment" in 2003 as well as making Forbes magazine's list of the "100 Most Powerful Women in the World" in 2004.
Berman's reign as the head of Paramount Pictures was a rocky one. Amid speculation that her experience in television made her ill-suited to oversee feature films, Berman also reportedly clashed with talent and other executives. Rumors also persisted that she did not see eye-to-eye with Chairman Brad Grey, whose first major decision upon his own appointment, was to hire her away from Fox. Berman's role was diminished in 2006 when Paramount Pictures acquired another studio, Dreamworks SKG, and installed the highly experienced Stacey Snider, former head of Universal, into the stop post. Berman was next expected to form her own production company.
|Teamed with former Yahoo! Media Group chief Lloyd Braun to form the production company BermanBraun|