Kevin Beggs, the president of Lionsgate's television group, may have helped introduce the world to some of the most culturally literate shows on TV, but when it's time for him to name his favorites, he recalls with glee an episode of Family Guy and utters just four words: "Bird Is the Word".
The most fun part of launching TVGuide.com's new mobile app is getting to have unexpected, enlightening conversations about TV with the incredibly smart, talented people who make it. That's why we're thrilled that Beggs, aka the man who has ushered shows like Mad Men, Weeds and Nurse Jackie into the cultural consciousness, has agreed to curate a channel on the app for us. And why it's such a kick to find out that he's a Family Guy fan. "Seth MacFarlane has turned digression into an artform," he says. Beggs' next project, Nashville, premieres on ABC on Oct. 10 at 10/9c. (Full disclosure: TVGuide.com is owned by a partnership of Lionsgate and JP Morgan's One Equity Partners.)
But let's get down to brass tacks. Can he tell us all kinds of incriminating stories from behind the scenes of Mad Men? "There are many, but I would be killed if I divulged any of them," he jokes.
Here's Beggs' full list. Watch his video introduction to his watchlist below.
Curb Your Enthusiasm: "I was a huge fan of Seinfeld. When I heard about Curb, I didn't know much about Larry David, except having seen his name in the credits for Seinfeld. It's him exposing his life. Having now met him, he's exactly how he appears in the show. Crafting a narrative around that was really an ingenious idea. The episode I can't get out of my mind is the one where he hires a hooker to go with him to Dodger Stadium so he can get through the carpool lane quicker."
Dream On: "All of us have HBO to thank for being the pioneer for putting scripted programming on cable. Everything followed after this."
Eastbound and Down: "I didn't know what to expect when I first turned this on, but I was quickly captivated. Danny McBride is great comedic actor as a down-on-his-luck baseball pitcher."
Family Guy: "Seth MacFarlane has turned digression into an artform. Let me just say this: 'Bird Is the Word.'"
Game of Thrones: "Everyone last year was buzzing about Game of Thrones, so over Christmas break I watched every episode over four days straight, and I didn't get any sleep. And then I was incredibly depressed [about the death] at the end of Season 1. I thought that was incredibly bold. It's an amazing show. I'm a huge fan. Terrific storytelling; it feels like a feature every week."
Hill Street Blues: "It was a revolution in procedural storytelling that had a lot of heart and grit and dealt with the personal issues that affected the workplace."
Mad Men: "Mad Men is a personal favorite because we're involved with the show. It's really one of the best TV shows ever made, and we're just lucky to be part of it. Perhaps my favorite episode is 'Guy Walks Into an Advertising Agency,' in which a pompous British ad executive leaves with much less than his dignity; in fact, he loses a limb."
Nurse Jackie: "We got a pitch from the producer, Caryn Mandabach, about a family friend whose daughter had grown up to be an ER nurse in New York. Caryn shared with us the diaries that she had been keeping for several years while working in this incredibly dysfunctional hospital. The diaries were amazing, and we agreed with Caryn that there was the seed of a show in this. We got a writer, wrote the script, it was passed on by Showtime. And then my Colleague Barbara Wall went after Edie Falco. We courted and wined and dined. After several months of wooing her, she said, 'I'd like to do this. I'd like to be this character.' Showtime then instantly reconsidered."
"It's a show that deals with addiction in a very candid way, but keeps enough humor inside the show so that it's not bleak or depressing, and that's really hard to pull off. It says a lot about Edie's abilities as a comedic and dramatic actress."
Seinfeld: "I love underdog shows that started out slow, that couldn't find their night or tested poorly, because those are the shows that turn out to be colossal hits."
The Sopranos: "The best drama ever. What really stands out for me are the more intense moments between Tony and Carmela Soprano, particularly the famous kitchen scene in which their marriage is dissolving in front of us. It was very real, hard to watch, but hard to look away from. It was the most honest, raw pieces of writing I'd seen on TV or in movies in years. I'll never forget that scene."
St. Elsewhere: "Great medical stories, incredible soap, it was a precursor to many of the shows we have come to know and like, like ER, Chicago Hope and Grey's Anatomy."
Weeds: "[Series creator Jenji Kohan] picked up the phone and said, 'It's a pot-dealing soccer mom,' and I said, 'Have to have it.' It [ended] up at 102 episodes, and every season has been better than the last. My favorite scene was what's called the 'sock aria' with Justin Kirk giving a monologue about masturbation that everyone YouTubes like crazy. Great writing, great acting, great producing."
The TV Guide iOS mobile app, which launched in August, is an innovative, one-stop TV companion app exclusively for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, designed to make TV simple again by allowing fans to find, share and watch instantly — anytime, anywhere. It's available for free from the App Store on iPhone, iPad and iPod touch or at www.itunes.com/appstore.