tv+music power players 2015 Dawn Soler, Shonda Rhimes and Alex Patsava

Dawn SolerShonda Rhimes and Alex Patsavas photographed at Sunset Gower Studios in Los Angeles on Sept. 4, 2015.

Ramona Rosales




Courtney Kemp Agboh, 38

Creator/showrunner, Power

Curtis ‘50 Cent’ Jackson, 40

Executive producer, Power

The Starz series made news in August when the second-season finale of the show, about a nightclub owner/drug kingpin, drew the largest weekend audience ever for the pay-cable network (4.4 million gross viewers based on Nielsen’s Live Plus 3 measurement). A 42 percent improvement over its season-one finale allayed fears that Empire would siphon off its audience, although Jackson says, “I don’t think there’s any comparison to the show, outside of the lead characters being African-American.” The rapper also says that his knowledge of the streets, and Agboh’s primetime TV experience (The Good Wife) make for an ideal partnership.

Favorite TV Theme Song (Jackson): “The Jeffersons. I wrote a song that was a spinoff I liked it so much.”


Lee Daniels, 55

Creator/executive producer, Empire

Danny Strong, 41

Creator/executive producer, Empire

Timbaland, 43

Executive music producer, Empire

The Fox series’ first season dominated water-cooler talk and the Nielsens: It is the top-rated broadcast drama since the 2007-to-2008 season, and its two-hour finale surpassed 23 million viewers (when seven days of delayed viewing are factored in), making it the highest-rated freshman series in 10 years. Ad Age reported 30-­second spots were ­nearing $500,000 for the season-two premiere; the ­season-one soundtrack topped the Billboard 200 and sold 428,000 units, according to Nielsen Music. For Daniels, the series has been a passion project: “My own version of Glee -- a musical about my life with the drama of Dynasty,” he says.


Sam Esmail, 37

Creator/executive producer, Mr. Robot

Mac Quayle

Composer, Mr. Robot

It’s hard to miss Quayle’s contributions to USA Network’s summer breakout TV hit, Mr. Robot. Esmail, who describes himself as a “very picky ­motherf—er” when it comes to soundtracks, says he made sure Quayle’s score was mixed “as loud as possible.” The unique electronic ­musical landscape, which was studded with such choice alternative songs as Perfume Genius’ “Queen” and Time Zone’s 1984 classic “World Destruction,” deftly evokes the show’s paranoia and schizophrenia, and Quayle says he’s inundated with Twitter requests for an official soundtrack. It has been a landmark year for Quayle, who landed an Emmy nomination for his spooky score to American Horror Story: Freak Show. “As a TV composer, you’re used to being in the background,” he says. “But this year has been... weird.”

Guilty TV Pleasure Esmail: “Big Brother.”


Bruce Gilbert, 42

Music supervisor, Transparent, Orange Is the New Black, Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp

It’s no coincidence that two ground­breaking series, Orange Is the New Black and Transparent -- which respectively put Netflix and Amazon on the map -- used the same veteran music supervisor. “When a show is new, you have to convince [artists] this thing that doesn’t exist yet is worth their time,” he says. It’s how he got the elusive Neil Young to let him use a full six minutes of “Razor Love” on an episode of Transparent. Director David Wain, who hired the Johannesburg native to curate the music for his Wet Hot American Summer Netflix series, says Gilbert has “the killer combo of knowing everyone, being crazy smart and having great taste.”


Hamish Hamilton, 49

Director, Super Bowl Halftime Show

Ricky Kirshner, 55

Executive producer, Halftime Show

Sarah Moll, 38

Director of media events, NFL

Mark Quenzel, 59

Senior vp programming and production, NFL Network

Ron Semiao, 59

Vp programming and media events, NFL

This quintet puts together the Super Bowl halftime special, and its collective clout can be demonstrated with two massive numbers. Bruno Mars’ 2014 performance attracted a record 115 million viewers -- the most-watched halftime show ever, until Katy Perry topped it the following year by drawing 121 million. Hence, the headlines when word leaked that Mars had been asked to “curate” the 2016 spectacle. Moll declined to comment.


Callie Khouri, 57

Creator, Nashville

Buddy Miller, 63

Executive music director, Nashville

“It was a big deal to us to not do some kind of shtick on mainstream country music,” says Khouri, who waitressed at Nashville music clubs before moving to Hollywood and writing Thelma and Louise. To that end, she and Miller have created a songwriters factory of upstarts (Kate York) and veterans (Elvis Costello), and put out as many soundtrack albums (13, including digital downloads) as character Juliet Barnes’ mood swings. “There’s no place like Nashville when it comes to songwriters,” says Miller. And there’s nothing like having 7.5 million viewers hear their songs.

Ryan Murphy, 49

Creator/writer/executive producer, American Horror Story, Scream Queens

After charting a record 207 Hot 100 hits and selling 45 million downloads, Murphy’s Glee has run its course, leaving the Indianapolis native to make beautiful music out of more dissonant concepts. American Horror Story has cast Stevie Nicks and covered Lana Del Rey, Nirvana and David Bowie, while its fourth season, Freak Show, became FX’s highest-rated series to date with an average 12.6 million viewers. Season five, Hotel, will feature Lady Gaga, and on Sept. 22, Fox debuts Murphy’s Scream Queens, which has Ariana Grande, Nick Jonas and Lea Michele working their pipes.


Alex Patsavas, 47

Music supervisor/owner, Chop Shop Music Supervision

Celebrating the 200th episode of Supernatural and the birth of How to Get Away With Murder as well as mourning the end of Mad Men were all part of Patsavas’ year, but, she says, nothing quite compared to the death of Derek “McDreamy” Shepherd on Grey’s Anatomy. The day the show aired, creator Shonda Rhimes decided to switch the song that played over his demise to Sleeping at Last’s cover of “Chasing Cars,” which Patsavas had submitted that day for a future episode. “Everyone knew how important it was to get the clearance,” she says. “We got calls from baseball [games] and airplanes. That was a fun and interesting day.”

Experience That Made Her Want To Get Into The Business: "The Breakfast Club: I’m from the Chicago suburbs, and John Hughes’ movies really influenced me. It was a portal into alternative music.”


Manish Raval, 40

Music supervisor, Girls

“We get a huge audience response to the soundtrack, which doesn’t come along that often,” says Raval. When Patsy Cline’s “She’s Got You” was included on the Feb. 8 episode, sales for the 53-year-old song shot up 139 percent the following week. Raval also has plied the audience with exclusive new tracks by St. Vincent, Grimes and Family of the Year. He describes the process of selecting songs for Girls as “exchanging mixtapes, basically.” He, creator Lena Dunham and executive producers Jenni Konner and Judd Apatow swap playlists, rarely with specific episodes in mind. “It’ll never be, ‘Hey, here’s a bunch of stuff for scene 14,’ ” says the UCLA dropout-made-good. “It’s more like, ‘Here’s a bunch of cool music I love. You got to check this out.’ ”

Dream booking: “I’m a huge Pearl Jam fan, so I’m always in search of the project that would put me and the band in a room together.”



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