Lauren Zalaznick

Executive


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In her five-hour interview, Lauren Zalaznick talks about her early years, and choosing the entertainment industry over a possible career as a doctor. She describes working on several feature films, including “Compromising Positions,” “Kids,” and Todd Haynes’ “Safe.” She chronicles her years working on promos for MTV Networks, which led to a position as vice president in charge of promotion, where she was charged with completely rebranding VH1. She recounts the changes she brought to VH1, including programming Pop Up Video, VH1 Fashion Awards, and The RuPaul Show. She recalls a brief stint at AMC, after which she created the Trio network, where she developed the acclaimed Brilliant But Cancelled series. Zalaznick discusses being brought in to rebrand Bravo, and details the various series she developed there, including Project Runway, Top Chef, The Real Housewives of Orange County, and Watch What Happens Live. She also speaks of changes she brought to Oxygen and Telemundo, including acquiring the World Cup telecasts and how she has utilized new media as a marketing tool. She concludes by discussing her Internet newsletter LZ Sunday Paper, and what she might do in the future. Jenni Matz conducted the interview on May 9, 2018 in New York, NY.

"At the time, we talked about what made Bravo work very specifically. It was brain-on reality, as opposed to brain-off, take-me-out-of-this-world reality. We were literally talking about engaged viewers who were lean forward viewers, not the lean back, pass the time, just get me to eleven o’clock and I can fall asleep. Bravo was just passionate, leaned-in reality."

People Talking About ...
Highlights
Lauren Zalaznick on becoming vice president of on-air promotion at MTV
Lauren Zalaznick on an incident with The RuPaul Show producers Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato
Lauren Zalaznick on dealing with the initial low ratings for Project Runway on Bravo
Lauren Zalaznick on artists' reaction to Pop Up Video, and on where the factoids came from for the show
Lauren Zalaznick on developing The Real Housewives of Orange County for Bravo
Lauren Zalaznick on the experience of creating and branding the Trio network
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On her early life and influences; on television she watched growing up; on watching the Watergate hearings as a child
On deciding to get into the entertainment field; on working on her first feature film, "Compromising Positions"; on what appealed to her about working in the entertainment industry
On her decision to become a producer; on making the transition from feature films to television via making promos for MTV; on becoming vice president of on-air promotion at MTV Networks; on completely redesigning VH1
On transitioning from being an executive to being a producer for VH1 shows; on the creation of Pop Up Video for VH1; on what makes a good producing team
On producing the VH1 Fashion Awards, and on changes made to the show from 1995 to 1996; on developing The RuPaul Show

Chapter 2

On diversifying the genres on VH1; on her programming strategy for VH1; on an incident with The RuPaul Show producers Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato
On her decision to leave VH1, and on her experiences on 9/11; on consulting for AMC Networks, and on deciding to head up the Trio network
On the experience of creating and branding the Trio network; on programming the Trio network; on what she learned about programming as the head of Trio
On television and society, and on how television tends to reflect the national psyche (the topic of her 2011 TED Talk)
On being tapped by Jeff Zucker to lead the Bravo network in the wake of the NBC/Universal merger; on the challenge of building on the success of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy as head of Bravo, and on shows she programmed early in her tenure there

Chapter 3

On the impact Queer Eye for the Straight Guy had on Bravo's programming; on creating a marketing strategy when she started at Bravo, and on creating the logo; on Battle of the Network Reality Stars
On Project Greenlight, and on developing Project Runway; on dealing with the initial low ratings for Project Runway on Bravo
On developing The Real Housewives of Orange County for Bravo; on expanding The Real Housewives franchise while still developing The Real Housewives of Orange County; on the importance of casting strong personalities for Bravo's reality programming, and "fake" reality
On using the Internet as a marketing tool for Bravo's programming, and on the "watch what happens" slogan; on developing Top Chef for Bravo; on the importance of passion for one's occupation on Bravo's reality shows
On how losing Project Runway impacted Bravo, and on Top Chef becoming their signature show; on the Bravo audience demographics; on how Bravo's brand stands apart

Chapter 4

On Watch What Happens Live with host Andy Cohen; on the ways in which audiences are consuming content via new media, and how that has impacted Bravo; on programming scripted series for Bravo
On the challenges of taking over Telemundo, and bringing the World Cup to the network; on heading up the Oxygen network, and on The Bad Girls Club; on the Oxygen series Snapped and The Glee Project
On being President of NBC/Universal Women and Lifestyle Entertainment Networks; on targeting women as a demographic as President of NBC/Universal Women and Lifestyle Entertainment Networks; on how things have changed for women in television since she started, and on the then-future of women in television
On being a board member at GoPro, and her then-current projects; on the then-current state of television; on her favorite parts and biggest challenges of her jobs at NBC/Universal
On her website/newsletter LZ Sunday Paper; on how the television industry has changed since she began; on what she has loved most about television and her jobs in it
On valuable advice she has received, and on her advice to aspiring television executives; on the value of oral histories like The Interviews
On career achievements, future goals, and regrets; on how she would like to be remembered
Shows

Bad Girls Club, The

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Lauren Zalaznick on heading up the Oxygen network, and on The Bad Girls Club

Battle of the Network Reality Stars

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Lauren Zalaznick on Battle of the Network Reality Stars

Battle of the Network Stars

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Lauren Zalaznick on Battle of the Network Reality Stars (a takeoff on Battle of the Network Stars)

Glee

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Lauren Zalaznick on the Oxygen series Snapped and The Glee Project

Pop Up Video

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Lauren Zalaznick on the creation of Pop Up Video for VH1
Lauren Zalaznick on artists' reaction to Pop Up Video, and on where the factoids came from for the show

Project Runway

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Lauren Zalaznick on Project Greenlight, and on developing Project Runway
Lauren Zalaznick on dealing with the initial low ratings for Project Runway on Bravo
Lauren Zalaznick on how losing Project Runway impacted Bravo, and on Top Chef becoming their signature show

Queer Eye for the Straight Guy

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Lauren Zalaznick on the challenge of building on the success of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy as head of Bravo, and on shows she programmed early in her tenure there
Lauren Zalaznick on the impact Queer Eye for the Straight Guy had on Bravo's programming

Real Housewives of Orange County, The

View Show Page
Lauren Zalaznick on developing The Real Housewives of Orange County for Bravo
Lauren Zalaznick on expanding The Real Housewives franchise while still developing The Real Housewives of Orange County

RuPaul Show, The

View Show Page
Lauren Zalaznick on developing The RuPaul Show
Lauren Zalaznick on an incident with The RuPaul Show producers Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato

Snapped

View Show Page
Lauren Zalaznick on the Oxygen series Snapped and The Glee Project

Top Chef

View Show Page
Lauren Zalaznick on developing Top Chef for Bravo
Lauren Zalaznick on how losing Project Runway impacted Bravo, and on Top Chef becoming their signature show
Lauren Zalaznick on the digital, online element of Top Chef

VH1 Fashion Awards

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Lauren Zalaznick on producing the VH1 Fashion Awards, and on changes made to the show from 1995 to 1996

Watch What Happens Live

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Lauren Zalaznick on Watch What Happens Live with host Andy Cohen
Topics

'The Idiot Box'

View Topic
Lauren Zalaznick on television and society, and how television tends to reflect the national psyche (the topic of her 2011 TED Talk)

9/11

View Topic
Lauren Zalaznick on her experiences on 9/11

Advice

View Topic
Lauren Zalaznick on valuable advice she has received, and on her advice to aspiring television executives

Criticism of TV

View Topic
Lauren Zalaznick on television and society, and how television tends to reflect the national psyche (the topic of her 2011 TED Talk)

Diversity in Television

View Topic
Lauren Zalaznick on how things have changed for women in television since she started, and on the then-future of women in television

First Big Break

View Topic
Lauren Zalaznick on working on her first feature film, "Compromising Positions"

Historic Events and Social Change

View Topic
Lauren Zalaznick on her experiences on 9/11
Lauren Zalaznick on how things have changed for women in television since she started, and on the then-future of women in television

Media Consolidation

View Topic
Lauren Zalaznick on being tapped by Jeff Zucker to lead the Bravo network in the wake of the NBC/Universal merger

Network Creation

View Topic
Lauren Zalaznick on the experience of creating and branding the Trio network
Lauren Zalaznick on programming the Trio network
Lauren Zalaznick on what she learned about programming as the head of Trio

New Media

View Topic
Lauren Zalaznick on using the Internet as a marketing tool for Bravo's programming, and on the "watch what happens" slogan
Lauren Zalaznick on the ways in which audiences are consuming content via new media, and how that has impacted Bravo
Lauren Zalaznick on being a board member at GoPro, and her then-current projects

Pivotal Career Moments

View Topic
Lauren Zalaznick on working on her first feature film, "Compromising Positions"

Richard M. Nixon

View Topic
Lauren Zalaznick on watching the Watergate hearings as a child

Studio and Network Management

View Topic
Lauren Zalanzick on diversifying the genres on VH1
Lauren Zalaznick on programming the Trio network
Lauren Zalaznick on what she learned about programming as the head of Trio
Lauren Zalaznick on the challenge of building on the success of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy as head of Bravo, and on shows she programmed early in her tenure there
Lauren Zalaznick on creating a marketing strategy when she started at Bravo, and on creating the logo

Television Industry

View Topic
Lauren Zalaznick on the experience of creating and branding the Trio network
Lauren Zalaznick on programming the Trio network
Lauren Zalaznick on what she learned about programming as the head of Trio
Lauren Zalaznick on being tapped by Jeff Zucker to lead the Bravo network in the wake of the NBC/Universal merger
Lauren Zalaznick on an incident with The RuPaul Show producers Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato
Lauren Zalaznick on her decision to leave VH1, and on her experiences on 9/11
Lauren Zalaznick on television and society, and how television tends to reflect the national psyche (the topic of her 2011 TED Talk)
Lauren Zalanzick on diversifying the genres on VH1
Lauren Zalaznick on being tapped by Jeff Zucker to lead the Bravo network in the wake of the NBC/Universal merger
Lauren Zalaznick on the challenge of building on the success of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy as head of Bravo, and on shows she programmed early in her tenure there
Lauren Zalaznick on using the Internet as a marketing tool for Bravo's programming, and on the "watch what happens" slogan
Lauren Zalaznick on creating a marketing strategy when she started at Bravo, and on creating the logo
Lauren Zalaznick on the ways in which audiences are consuming content via new media, and how that has impacted Bravo
Lauren Zalaznick on being a board member at GoPro, and her then-current projects
Lauren Zalaznick on the then-current state of television
Lauren Zalaznick on how the television industry has changed since she began
Lauren Zalaznick on valuable advice she has received, and on her advice to aspiring television executives

Television and the Presidency

View Topic
Lauren Zalaznick on watching the Watergate hearings as a child

Women

View Topic
Lauren Zalaznick on how things have changed for women in television since she started, and on the then-future of women in television
Professions

Executives

View Profession
Lauren Zalaznick on completely rebranding VH1
Lauren Zalaznick on her programming strategy for VH1
Lauren Zalaznick on programming the Trio network
Lauren Zalaznick on the challenge of building on the success of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy as head of Bravo, and on shows she programmed early in her tenure there
Lauren Zalaznick on creating a marketing strategy when she started at Bravo, and on creating the logo
Lauren Zalaznick on the importance of casting strong personalities for Bravo's reality programming, and "fake" reality
Lauren Zalaznick on the importance of passion for one's occupation on Bravo's reality shows
Lauren Zalaznick on the Bravo audience demographics
Lauren Zalaznick on how Bravo's brand stands apart
Lauren Zalaznick on programming scripted series for Bravo
Lauren Zalaznick on what she feels is her biggest contribution to Bravo
Lauren Zalaznick on the challenges of taking over Telemundo, and bringing the World Cup to the network
Lauren Zalaznick on heading up the Oxygen network, and on The Bad Girls Club
Lauren Zalaznick on being President of NBC/Universal Women and Lifestyle Entertainment Networks
Lauren Zalaznick on targeting women as a demographic as President of NBC/Universal Women and Lifestyle Entertainment Networks
Lauren Zalaznick on her favorite parts and biggest challenges of her jobs at NBC/Universal
Lauren Zalaznick on what she has loved most about television and her jobs in it
Lauren Zalaznick on valuable advice she has received, and on her advice to aspiring television executives

Producers

View Profession
Lauren Zalaznick on her decision to become a producer
Lauren Zalaznick on what makes a good producing team

Television Executive

View Profession
Lauren Zalaznick on completely rebranding VH1
Lauren Zalaznick on her programming strategy for VH1
Lauren Zalaznick on programming the Trio network
Lauren Zalaznick on the challenge of building on the success of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy as head of Bravo, and on shows she programmed early in her tenure there
Lauren Zalaznick on creating a marketing strategy when she started at Bravo, and on creating the logo
Lauren Zalaznick on the importance of casting strong personalities for Bravo's reality programming, and "fake" reality
Lauren Zalaznick on the importance of passion for one's occupation on Bravo's reality shows
Lauren Zalaznick on the Bravo audience demographics
Lauren Zalaznick on how Bravo's brand stands apart
Lauren Zalaznick on programming scripted series for Bravo
Lauren Zalaznick on what she feels is her biggest contribution to Bravo
Lauren Zalaznick on the challenges of taking over Telemundo, and bringing the World Cup to the network
Lauren Zalaznick on heading up the Oxygen network, and on The Bad Girls Club
Lauren Zalaznick on being President of NBC/Universal Women and Lifestyle Entertainment Networks
Lauren Zalaznick on targeting women as a demographic as President of NBC/Universal Women and Lifestyle Entertainment Networks
Lauren Zalaznick on her favorite parts and biggest challenges of her jobs at NBC/Universal
Lauren Zalaznick on what she has loved most about television and her jobs in it
Lauren Zalaznick on valuable advice she has received, and on her advice to aspiring television executives
Genres

Awards Shows

View Genre
Lauren Zalaznick on producing the VH1 Fashion Awards, and on changes made to the show from 1995 to 1996

Commercials

View Genre
Lauren Zalaznick on making the transition from feature films to television via making promos for MTV

Music Shows & Variety Shows/Specials

View Genre
Lauren Zalaznick on the creation of Pop Up Video for VH1

Reality TV

View Genre
Lauren Zalaznick on the challenge of building on the success of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy as head of Bravo, and on shows she programmed early in her tenure there
Lauren Zalaznick on the impact Queer Eye for the Straight Guy had on Bravo's programming
Lauren Zalaznick on Battle of the Network Reality Stars
Lauren Zalaznick on Project Greenlight, and on developing Project Runway
Lauren Zalaznick on developing The Real Housewives of Orange County for Bravo
Lauren Zalaznick on developing Top Chef for Bravo
Lauren Zalaznick on heading up the Oxygen network, and on The Bad Girls Club
Lauren Zalaznick on the Oxygen series Snapped and The Glee Project

Talk Shows

View Genre
Lauren Zalaznick on developing The RuPaul Show
Lauren Zalaznick on Watch What Happens Live with host Andy Cohen
People

RuPaul Charles

View Interview Page
Lauren Zalaznick on developing The RuPaul Show starring RuPaul Charles

Andy Cohen

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Lauren Zalaznick on Watch What Happens Live with host Andy Cohen

Jeff Zucker

View Interview Page
Lauren Zalaznick on being tapped by Jeff Zucker to lead the Bravo network in the wake of the NBC/Universal merger

All Interviews

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