Why Don't We Have More Women Deciding What Women Will Watch?


Chief executive of Alloy Entertainment Leslie Morgenstein’s name may sound potentially female, but the person responsible for shows like “Gossip Girl,” “The Vampire Diaries,” and “Pretty Little Liars” reaching 12-to-24-year-old eyeballs is in fact a 44-year-old man.

Because as we all know, sometimes the best teenage girl for the job is actually a man.

“They have their finger on the pulse of the millennial audience,” said Michael Riley, president of ABC Family, which broadcasts Alloy’s “Pretty Little Liars” and two of its latest shows, “The Nine Lives of Chloe King” and “The Lying Game.” (The third, “The Secret Circle,” will have its premiere on CW in September.)
Despite his abundant output, Mr. Morgenstein, 44, maintains a low profile in Hollywood. So much so that Gina Girolamo, his senior vice president for television, didn’t know that her future boss was a man until they met last year. “I thought Leslie Morgenstein was a lady, based on the credits of my favorite shows, ‘Gossip Girl’ and ‘Vampire Diaries,’ ” Ms. Girolamo, a former NBC executive, said.
Regardless, Mr. Morgenstein, a married father of two sons who is based in New York, seems to know what girls want. “Because we are middle-aged Jewish guys,” he said of the company’s management team, “we hire a lot of creatives who are young women, who are much closer to the audience.”

In this case, Morgenstein does seem to be doing a bang up job when it comes to selecting shows women will go crazy for —as these shows are incredibly popular— but it causes me to wonder why in 2011 we’re still relying so heavily on men to figure out what women want.

Surely in previous years it was virtually unheard of to see female executives of any kind —television included— but now that we’re seeing more female TV executives climbing the ladder, do you think it’s possible to one day seem a boom of for-women-by-women programming?

That said, who’s to say that a woman actually a better judge of what women want to see any more than a man would be a better judge when it comes to gauging what men want to see?

As more female executives rise to power and the lines of gender continue to blur, it will definitely be interesting to discover the answers.

His Finger on the Pulse of What Girls Watch [NYTimes]

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