Women Who Run the Show

What does it take to run a successful non-scripted show today and stay ahead of the competition? These savvy enterprising women executive producers from various television genres will discuss what it takes to get a show made and on air; how topics and story ideas are generated and decided upon; and how to create an engaging story for each episode. Whether you are a novice producer just starting out or a seasoned producer looking to run a show of your own, you will have plenty to take away from this discussion.



Deirdre Connolly joined Embassy Row in June 2009 as a showrunner to launch Watch What Happens Live! hosted by Andy Cohen.  Under Deirdre's leadership, WWHL has gone on to become a late night and pop culture phenomenon hosting guests such as Oprah, Cher, Liam Neeson, Jerry Seinfeld, and Meryl Streep.  Deirdre currently serves as the Executive Producer of WWHL, Bravo's Fashion Queens as well as many other Embassy Row productions. Prior to joining Embassy Row, Deirdre produced MTV's flagship daily show, Total Request Live in NYC and eventually relocated to London to launch the British version of TRL for MTV UK.



Amy Feller is co-Creator and Executive Producer of The Suze Orman Show.  The Saturday evening personal finance show has helped people gain control over their finances for thirteen years and is one of CNBC’s longest running and highest-rated programs.  Prior to that, Feller was Senior Broadcast Producer at MSNBC where she led a team of producers on Home Page, a daily, three-hour live program focused on news and information for women. She also created The Mitch Albom Show at MSNBC.  An Emmy® award-winning broadcast professional with over 25 years of experience, Feller started her career in local news, crisscrossing the country as a producer, executive producer and news director. 


Leigh Hampton is an Emmy-award-winning Executive Producer who spent eight years as show runner for Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, hosted by Meredith Vieira.  Prior to that she was Co-Executive Producer of the ABC network juggernaut starring Regis Philbin. She was the EP/Show Runner for the 2014 National Geographic Bee hosted by Soledad O’Brien.  Leigh was the co-EP of the first season of GSN’s ratings hit, The American Bible Challenge.  Other credits include Million Second Quiz and It’s Worth What for NBC, MTV’s comedy courtroom show, The Blame Game and Nickelodeon’s hidden camera gem, You’re On! Leigh Hampton is president of Mellon Row Productions, Inc. and has several shows in development.



Sara Nichols is a New York based Director, Writer, Producer and ShowRunner.  Her work includes television series, commercials, branded content, multi-camera concerts, documentaries, comedy, live events and music videos.  As Showrunner, Sara’s work includes Extreme Guide to Parenting (Bravo), MTV’s Room Raiders, Gastineau Girls (E!), and Growing Up Gotti (A&E), and Sundance Film Festival coverage (Sundance TV).  Her work has appeared on ABC, NBC, MTV, VH-1, Nickelodeon, Bravo, E!, ABC Family, Sundance, A&E, & Discovery.  A Grammy nominated director, Sara has worked with Mariah Carey, Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez, Justin Timberlake, Pink, Beyonce, Evanescence, Christina Aguilera and Janet Jackson. Her latest project is the documentary series, Psychic Betsy, currently in development.


Laura Palumbo Johnson is a Partner at Magilla Entertainment and an Executive Producer.  She co-found Magilla Entertainment in 2009. Recognized as one of the leaders in the field of non-scripted TV, Magilla has worked with a wide variety of media outlets including: ABC, AMC, Bravo, CMT (Bayou Billionaires), Discovery (MoonshinersTickle), DIY, E!, Food Network, FUSE (Warped Roadies), FX, HGTV (Beach Front Bargain Hunt, Lakefront Bargain Hunt, Celebrities at Home, My Favorite Place), HBO, Lifetime (Glamour Belles), MTV (Totally Clueless), Oxygen (Jersey Couture), Style, TLC (Long Island Medium), Travel Channel, truTV, History Channel and VH1 (The Gossip Game). Palumbo Johnson possesses a diverse background, having worked on all forms of non-scripted television – docu-reality, celeb-reality, competition reality, scripted hybrid, makeover, hidden camera, game show and talk/variety shows. 


Tracey Baker-Simmons (Moderator) is a pioneer of urban celeb-reality television. In 2003, Baker-Simmons launched B2 Entertainment Studios LLC with partner Wanda Shelley. In 2005, they created Being Bobby Brown for Bravo, which starred superstar couple and music legends Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston. In July 2010, they teamed up with Keith Sweat to produce Platinum House featuring Dru Hill, which debuted on BET/Centric. The show resulted in an Emmy nomination for Baker-Simmons and her partner. Tracey began her career at Warner Brothers Music and Westside Stories, where she produced hundreds of music videos and commercials. She also produced the indie feature The Book of Love.   




Produced by Octavia Taylor

A Special Thanks to
Jim Arnoff and Maura Kelly and Tony Tavolacci of the Tribeca Film Center.

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NYWIFT programs, screenings and events are supported, in part, by grants from New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and New York State Council on the Arts