It's sink or swim time for the studios behind this fall's crop of new TV shows. For the past year, executives have been pitching, developing, casting and producing what they hope will be the next big hits. Now it's all out of their hands, as viewers determine whether those series will go the distance or end up on the cancellation heap.
Last year, we asked several broadcast and cable heads to fill out our network honcho survey and give us their thoughts as a new TV season began. This time, it's the studio chiefs in the hot seat. Here's what turns them on.
TV Guide Magazine: What will be your studio's new sleeper hit?
Bela Bajaria (Universal Television executive vice president): Ironside (NBC).
Kevin Beggs (Lionsgate Television Group chairman): Orange Is The New Black (Netflix).
Jamie Erlicht (Sony Pictures Television president, programming and production): Masters of Sex (Showtime).
Patrick Moran (ABC Studios executive vice president): I couldn't possibly choose one
Gary Newman (20th Century Fox TV chairman): At this time of year, we are bullish about all our shows — there are only "hits," no "sleeper hits." But Dads (Fox) might be an example of a show some critics have maligned and we think has huge potential. No one should bet against Seth MacFarlane and the creators of Ted.
David Stapf (CBS Television Studios president): It's called a sleeper for a reason — I have no idea.
Zack Van Amburg (Sony Pictures Television president, programming and production): The Night Shift (NBC).
TV Guide Magazine: What new TV show, besides one of your own, are you most excited to see?
Bajaria (Universal): The Blacklist.
Beggs (Lionsgate): The Goldbergs.
Moran (ABC): The Blacklist.
Erlicht (Sony): Mom. That Chuck Lorre kid may make a name for himself after all
Newman (20th): Brooklyn Nine-Nine. An incredible cast and Andy Samberg is a big TV star.
Peter Roth (Warner Bros. Television Group president and chief content officer): Ray Donovan.
Stapf (CBS): Masters of Sex.
Van Amburg (Sony): Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and About A Boy.
TV Guide Magazine: What actor is a superstar in the making?
Bajaria (Universal): David Walton (About A Boy) and Stephanie Beatriz (Brooklyn Nine-Nine).
Beggs (Lionsgate): Chaley Rose (Nashville) and Italia Ricci (Chasing Life)
Erlicht (Sony): Sam Heughan (Outlander).
Moran (ABC): Chloe Bennet and Brett Dalton (Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D).
Newman (20th): Tom Mison and Nicole Beharie (Sleepy Hollow)
Stapf (CBS): Margo Martindale (The Millers) — is she a fresh face? Maybe not, but she is going to surprise a lot of people with her comedic skills.
Van Amburg (Sony): Eoin Macken (The Night Shift).
TV Guide Magazine: What was the last thing that blew you away?
Bajaria (Universal): [The Belizean island] Ambergris Caye.
Beggs (Lionsgate): I just read The Accursed by Joyce Carol Oates, which is fantastic. We are developing it for television with producer Jason Blum.
Erlicht (Sony): The beaches of Normandy.
Moran (ABC): My summer vacation in Capri, Italy.
Newman (20th): Meg Wolitzer's The Interestings was a terrific read.
Roth (Warner Bros.): The final season of Breaking Bad as it unfolds.
Stapf (CBS): Being at Michigan's win against Notre Dame in a stadium of 115,000 people
Van Amburg (Sony): The Carrara marble mountains in Italy. Now I know how it gets to The Tile Depot.
TV Guide Magazine: What keeps you awake at night?
Bajaria (Universal): Nothing, as long as my kids and family are safe.
Beggs (Lionsgate): Unreturned phone calls and e-mails.
Erlicht (Sony): Everything.
Moran (ABC): The last week of September.
Newman (20th): Other than our two cute little white dogs? Truthfully, I sleep great.
Stapf (CBS): The deafening silence of my kids away at college.
Van Amburg (Sony): Everything.
TV Guide Magazine: What app or tech device can't you live without?
Bajaria (Universal): Amazon Prime.
Beggs (Lionsgate): I can't live without my iPad, and yes, I own the last BlackBerry.
Erlicht (Sony): Nest [a remote thermostat controller]. It's 74 degrees in my house right now.
Moran (ABC): iPad. (I watch everything on it now!)
Newman (20th): Wine opener. Maybe that's why I sleep great.
Stapf (CBS): CBS Fantasy Football App.
Van Amburg (Sony): Waze [a GPS-based navigation app]. I'm addicted.
TV Guide Magazine: What's your TV guilty pleasure?
Bajaria (Universal): Phineas and Ferb (Disney Channel).
Beggs (Lionsgate): Family Guy (Fox and syndicated) whenever or wherever it is playing, including multiple repeat episodes.
Erlicht (Sony): The Walking Dead (AMC).
Moran (ABC): Interior Therapy with Jeff Lewis (Bravo).
Newman (20th): The Golf Channel. It drives my wife and kids right out of the room!
Stapf (CBS): Orphan Black (BBC America).
Van Amburg (Sony): Big Brother (CBS). I haven't missed one episode. If I'm being honest, Big Brother After Dark (TVGN) is the real guilty pleasure.
TV Guide Magazine: Which show of yours "got away," the one you're most disappointed didn't turn into a hit.
Bajaria (Universal): The drama pilot County, from Parenthood's Jason Katims [a medical drama starring Jason Ritter and Michael Imperioli].
Beggs (Lionsgate): The Lost Room for Syfy is indeed the one that got away. An amazing premise and terrific six-hour event that slipped between the cracks.
Erlicht (Sony): All that didn't become a hit.
Moran (ABC): Red Widow.
Newman (20th): Dark Angel. Jessica Alba was a big star and having a Jim Cameron series on the air is really remarkable. The ratings weren't bad and it was loved in international markets. It was just a mistake that it got canceled.
Stapf (CBS): Super Clyde, a pilot that never went to series. [Rupert Grint, Tyler Labine and Stephen Fry starred in the single-camera comedy from executive producer Greg Garcia.]
Van Amburg (Sony): Pan Am and Dead Lawyers [a never-aired Syfy pilot starring F. Murray Abraham and Sean Patrick Flannery].
TV Guide Magazine: What's the best part of your job?
Bajaria (Universal): Working with brilliant, creative writers and my studio team to launch TV shows that audiences love.
Beggs (Lionsgate): The early development process. The privilege to be part of this magical creative process makes everything else worth it.
Erlicht (Sony): The end product: quality television.
Moran (ABC): Sitting with writers and hearing a fantastic pitch.
Newman (20th): Listening to some of the most gifted storytellers in the world pitch us their ideas. Getting to watch TV for a living. Being on a first name basis with Sofia Vergara.
Roth (Warner Bros.): Extraordinary creative talent, both in front of and behind the camera, that I have the great pleasure of working with.
Stapf (CBS): The people I work with.
Van Amburg (Sony): Hearing people in Costco talk about our shows.
TV Guide Magazine: What would you be doing if you weren't in the entertainment business?
Bajaria (Universal): A self-employed small business owner.
Beggs (Lionsgate): Before I ventured into television, I quite by accident wound up teaching elementary school for two years. I think I would have continued in education had the siren song of television not drawn me to Hollywood.
Erlicht (Sony): Trying to get back in.
Moran (ABC): Renovating old homes.
Newman (20th): I have always been fascinated by politics and international affairs. Also, I really like to color!
Roth (Warner Bros.): Teaching.
Stapf (CBS): Creating art that no one would buy.
Van Amburg (Sony): Racing cars.
TV Guide Magazine: Who's your TV idol or mentor?
Bajaria (Universal): Christiane Amanpour (CNN).
Beggs (Lionsgate): For many of us who grew up in the late 1970s and early 1980s, [former NBC entertainment president] Brandon Tartikoff will be a TV idol for life. Classy populism is incredibly hard to pull off. I have had two amazing mentors in my first boss, Doug Schwartz, and our Lionsgate CEO, Jon Feltheimer.
Erlicht (Sony): [Producer and former Sony TV exec] Eric Tannenbaum.
Newman (20th): [Former News Corp. COO] Peter Chernin gave me a great career opportunity and I probably learned more from him than anyone. I never cease to be wowed by the great storytellers of our business — people like Ryan Murphy, David E. Kelley, Seth MacFarlane, Howard Gordon, Steve Levitan and Chris Lloyd.
Roth (Warner Bros.): I've had the good fortune of having had a number of extraordinary mentors, including [former execs and producers] Fred Silverman, Marcy Carsey, Stephen J. Cannell, Bob Daly and Barry Meyer. One of the most inspiring role models in television and somewhat of an idol is [former MTM and NBC boss] Grant Tinker.
Stapf (CBS): [CBS CEO] Leslie Moonves.
Van Amburg (Sony): My dad [Tom Van Amburg, who once ran Los Angeles TV stations KABC and KCBS].