Meet Today’s Top TV Showrunners

The North Fork TV Festival presents an industry brunch panel, featuring top TV Showrunners moderated by VARIETY, at The Halyard Restaurant at Sound View Greenport, sponsored by The Gersh Agency. Entry is included with VIP Festival Pass, but seating is available on a first-come first-served basis. Doors open at 11:00 am, brunch will be served at 11:30.

Friday 9/7 11:00 AM

Our Venue: 


Available now with purchase of a VIP Festival Pass. Individual tickets will go on sale July 18th. 

Featured Showrunners:


Theresa Rebeck (SMASH)

Theresa Rebeck is a prolific and widely produced playwright, whose work can be seen and read throughout the United States and abroad. This fall, her fourth Broadway play, BERNHARDT/HAMLET, will premiere as part of the Roundabout Theatre Company’s 2018-19 season, making Rebeck the most Broadway-produced female playwright of our time. Her new comedy SEARED premieres this summer at the prestigious Williamstown Theatre Festival and her play Downstairs, starring Tim Daly and Tyne Daly, gets its New York Premiere in November at Primary Stages. As an author, Rebeck has written three novels: Three Girls and Their Brother, Twelve Rooms with A View  and I’m Glad About You, along with Free Fire Zone, a book of comedic essays about writing and show business. In TV, Rebeck created the NBC showbiz drama SMASH and has written for CANTERBURY'S LAW, LA LAW, NYPD BLUE, LAW & ORDER CRIMINAL INTENT, DREAM ON, BROOKLYN BRIDGE and many more. Her produced feature films include HARRIET THE SPY, GOSSIP,  and the independent features SUNDAY ON THE ROCKS, and SEDUCING CHARLIE BARKER, an adaptation of her play, THE SCENE. Upcoming film projects include 355 (for Jessica Chastain’s production company, Freckle Films) and TROUBLE, starring Angelica Huston and Bill Pullman. For her work on NYPD BLUE, Rebeck won the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Award, the Writers’ Guild of America Award for Episodic Drama, the Hispanic Images Imagen Award, and the Peabody Award. Other Awards include a GLAAD Award (for SMASH), the National Theatre Conference Award (THE FAMILY OF MANN), the William Inge New Voices Playwriting Award (THE BELLS), the PEN/Laura Pels Foundation Award, the Athena Film Festival Award, an Alex Award, a Lilly Award and more. In 2011, Rebeck was named one of the 150 Fearless Women in the World by Newsweek.

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Ben Edlund was born on September 20, 1968 in Pembroke, Massachusetts, USA. His show THE TICK, is currently on Amazon Prime. He is a producer and writer, known for THE TICK (1994), ANGEL (1999) and SUPERNATURAL (2005).

While still in college, Edlund was approached by Kiscom, a New Jersey-based toy licensing and design company, who wanted to develop THE TICK merchandising. Sunbow Entertainment, a New York-based animation company, paired Edlund up with writer Richard Libmann-Smith. The episode was approved for FOX. 

In 1994, The Tick debuted as an animated series on FOX and lasted three seasons. The program led to various toy and merchandising deals. The limited scope of merchandising compared to other contemporaneous animated series led Edlund to express contentment in his character as a "much more sincere proposal." The Tick appeared on the FOX network in late 2001 with a short-lived live-action series.  It returned to AMAZON in 2016. 

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Keith Eisner is a television veteran who most recently served  as showrunner for Season Two of  DESIGNATED SURVIVOR. He was a long-time Executive Producer on THE GOOD WIFE, as well as a writer-producer on LAW AND ORDER, GILMORE GIRLS and NYPD BLUE among a host of other shows. He is currently a consulting producer on MADAM SECRETARY and developing projects for network and cable.  Mr. Eisner began his career as a comedy writer before transitioning to drama. He is a former Wall Street lawyer and a graduate of Cornell University and the University of Pennsylvania Law School. 



Screenwriter/director/showrunner Rockne S. O’Bannon is one of the top purveyors of speculative fiction for film and TV today. From creating the hit Syfy TV series DEFIANCE, to the fan and critic favorite FARSCAPE, to the seminal film and television series ALIEN NATION, he has pushed the limits of imagination on both the big and small screens. He has served as Executive Producer on the NBC series REVOLUTION, and the NBC/DC COMICS adaptation CONSTANTINE. O’Bannon wrote the original screenplay ALIEN NATION, which was produced by Gale Anne Hurd (THE WALKING DEAD, THE TERMINATOR) for Twentieth-Century-Fox. The worldwide success of the feature film, starring James Caan and Mandy Patinkin, led to the FOX Network television series and five two-hour TV movie sequels, as well as a continuing series of ALIEN NATION novels. O’Bannon followed ALIEN NATION with his directing debut, FEAR, a thriller starring Ally Sheedy and Pruitt Taylor Vince for Showtime Network. Soon after, he was approached again by Steven Spielberg, this time to collaborate on a grand futuristic adventure series for NBC-TV. The result was SEAQUEST DSV starring Roy Scheider, on which O’Bannon served as Creator and Executive Producer. Later O’Bannon created EON-4, sponsored by Apple, heralded as the very first science fiction entertainment developed specifically for the then very young world wide web. O’Bannon co-wrote and directed the FOX Network TV film DEADLY INVASION, an ecological cautionary thriller starring Ryan Phillippe. ROBIN COOK’S INVASION, a four-hour mini-series for NBC- TV written by O’Bannon aired during the network’s May sweeps. And for May sweeps the following year, O’Bannon wrote CREATURE, another four-hour mini-series, this one for ABC-TV, adapted from the Peter Benchley best seller. O’Bannon also wrote FATAL ERROR, the TBS Network’s first original Tv event movie. O’Bannon’s television series FARSCAPE, which he created and executive produced, debuted on the Syfy Channel as the young network’s first original series, winning multiple awards, and often appearing on “The Year’s Best” lists in TV Guide Magazine and numerous publications around the globe. The series’ four year run was capped by the premiere of FARSCAPE: THE PEACEKEEPER WARS, a four-hour event mini-series. THE TRIANGLE premiered on the Syfy Channel to both critical and ratings acclaim. The six-hour mini-series was written and Executive Produced by O’Bannon with Bryan Singer (SUPERMAN RETURNS), and Dean Devlin (INDEPENDENCE DAY). In recent years, in addition to DEFIANCE on Syfy, O’Bannon created and Executive Produced the startlingly-original series CULT for The CW, a show that has appropriately achieved status as a “cult” favorite. For his work in film and TV, O’Bannon has been the recipient of an unprecedented nine Saturn Awards, presented by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror, more than anyone else. He has also received nominations for the cable Ace Award and from the Writers Guild of America.

Moderated By: 

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Debra Birnbaum is an accomplished editor with over 20 years of experience covering news and entertainment. She's the Executive Editor, TV, at Variety, overseeing all television coverage for the trade magazine’s multiple platforms, including the weekly print edition,, and special awards season issues. As the President/Editor-in-Chief of TV Guide Magazine, a position she held for seven years, she revitalized a classic brand with innovations like the annual "Fan Favorites" cover contest, the Comic-Con photo studio, and the "Hot List" party. She appears frequently on TV and radio as an entertainment expert, and regularly moderates panels for the TV Academy, Screen Actors Guild, Paley Center, and more. She has also worked for Redbook, George, More, The New York Post, and Us Weekly.