Since starting as a production intern on Carson Daly’s revamped late-night show in the fall of 2008, I have worked in television. Though there have been some missteps, some gap weeks (and months), and some projects that never made it to air, the list below is an otherwise decent representation of my progression through the world of talk shows and interview programs from being an intern, to an assistant, production assistant, associate producer, segment producer, coordinating producer, and now, somehow, a senior producer.
Between working with some of the best interviewers and giving away thousands of dollars, working in TV has been very good to me.
The Real (2015 – 2020)
The Real, currently airing on FOX across the country, has been my longest job to date. For years, I thought I was destined to work on one-and-done shows, spending a few months here and there as I bounced across the industry. Seeing what it’s like to spend time with the same hosts and same teammates for more than one season has been nothing short of inspirational. As you’ll see from the segments below, the breadth our department covers is incredible, from fan surprise and proposals to heartfelt reunions and giveaways.
I feel lucky to have won two NAACP Image Awards with the show, as well as being nominated three times for the Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Talk Show.
Plus, I got into a cake fight in front of Jerry Springer.
Selected Segments from The Real
- The Real Helps Out Federal Government Workers (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
- Lisa from the Bronx Gets a Hotline Bling to Remember
- A Hilarious Hotline Bling
- A Real Heart Reunion
- A Real Makeover & Surprise Proposal
- Meet Our #RealEmpowered Winner of This New 2017 Ford Fusion Sport
- … and my star turn in this cake fight in front of Jerry Springer
The Time is Now: Race and Resolution (2020)
The spring and summer of 2020 were a particularly fraught time for race in America, and I was honored to have the chance to be a writer/producer on a show and conversation that confronted the topic with the weight and seriousness it deserved and still deserves.
From A&E: “The Time Is Now: Race and Resolution aired across all A+E networks in partnership with the NAACP and OZY. This important conversation features influential social justice voices discussing the ways systemic racism, implicit bias, and economic inequality are afflicting our nation, and pathways forward to help achieve lasting change.”
Heaven Tours – Rwanda (2018)
I spent two months in the summer of 2018 launching Heaven Tours, a tour company based in Kigali, Rwanda, by developing city tours and providing supporting photos and videos to help Heaven Rwanda promote said tours to clients at the hotel, as well as tour operators abroad. The videos here support each of the unique city cultural tours around Kigali, including ones around art, fashion, food, and the city itself.
Thomas & Friends (2017)
I had the opportunity to write a digital animated series for Mattel’s Thomas & Friends, and the chance to create a storyline for a character and series I’d grown up playing with was downright charming. The challenge was a dialogue-free script to be stop-motion animated. I hope you enjoy the resulting three episodes.
The Preachers (2016)
For six weeks during the summer of 2016, I worked on The Preachers, a 15-episode summer test run featuring four dynamic pastors from across the country. The challenge with this show was bringing four individuals who could each command an audience on their own for an hour or more at a time, and bring them into conversation together, both with each other, and with the celebrity and human-interest guests of the show.
Selected Segments from The Preachers
- Nearly $1 Million Later, This Former Scientologist is Telling All
- Meet the Nuns Putting Pot on a Pedestal
- Meet the Sugar Baby Happily Earning $30,000 a Month
- Slave Descendant Builds New Relationship with Plantation-Owning Cousin
- “All Lives Matter, But…” a New Poem from Royce Mann
- Fraink White Gets Candid About His Decision to Lighten the Color of His Skin
- Former, Rival Gang Members Find Peace in the ‘Trap Kitchen’
- #ThePreachers Sit Down with an ‘Exorcism Expert’
America’s Community Network (2015)
Sometimes, whether you intend to or not, you end up co-hosting a video network that airs exclusively on McDonald’s’ through 5 major counties of Southern California. The idea for ACN was local content (still love that word) in the form of produced 2-minute videos highlighting people and organizations in your neighborhoods. We filmed across Riverside, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, Orange County, and Santa Barbara (sorry San Diego!), as well as created interstitial videos featuring the producers doing introductions to the network, to their videos, and having very stiff banter. The network was fun and scrappy, but ultimately the siren call of a big stage production lured me away.
The Daily Helpline (2014)
Summer runs, test runs, and even first seasons of shows are the Wild West of TV production. Though it was only a short run, it was a tough one. We shot 5 episodes over two days on the weekend, then had to have edit notes ready for the editors who started their weeks on Mondays. As the coordinating producer, I was involved in both the production and post-production worlds, so (fitting for the show’s title) was a daily commitment. Through that, the experience (as it usually is with summer runs, test runs, and first seasons) was valuable, as I went from timing live shows and working with producing teams to cutting down hour-long episodes and creating promos with the post team.
Here’s a tease of one of our weeks.
TakePart Live (2013 – 2014)
This show was surprisingly fun, despite its weird schedule (lets air LIVE at 9pm PST, said no one ever except us) and network hamstrung by bad rules (we know you’re aiming at a millennial audience, but we can’t let you show clips of show, or let celebrities post links to their interviews). We were given a lot of creative flexibility and despite our short run, I think we made the most of it.
Selected interviews from TakePart Live – Season 1 (including Al Gore, Roy Choi, Diablo Cody, and Joseph Gordon Levitt)
I have exceedingly fond memories of this short and intense production in which we created a 10-episode hourlong interview series for CNN. Much of that fondness is thanks to George, hands down the most personable and talented interviewer I’ve worked for. Because of the boot-strappy feel, my responsibilities including talent-wrangling, research, clearing elements, briefing guests, and helping to edit intro packages.
Also, I got to chat with Werner Herzog about nothing at all for 10 minutes. So, career highlight.
From our short but sweet run, here are excerpts of interviews we produced with Keanu Reeves, Martin Short, Larry King, Aisha Tyler, Snoop, Lisa Kudrow, Tony Hale, Maria Bello, Wiz Khalifa, Werner Herzog, Eli Roth, Cara Santa Maria, Robert Kirkman, and Kevin Smith, among others.
The Jeff Probst Show (2012 – 2013)
When a show struggles to find its voice or connect with an audience, especially if it only has one season to secure ratings, its direction can change quickly. For those who hang on for the ride, a lot of opportunities follow. For me, this year included a promotion, daytime exclusive bookings, a lot of produced games, medical mysteries, a fake psychic Halloween episode, and producing and editing two hour-long clip shows.
Plus, I finagled my way into following our guests to Haiti for a field shoot, which was incredible, and reminded me that charged batteries only work if you take them with you to the shoot. Here are a few excerpts from our lone season.
The Ellen DeGeneres Show (2010 – 2011)
For the show’s 8th season, I was a research assistant. Well, I was a Research Production Assistant, but the staff phone directory said Research Assistant, and what’s more official, so I took the promotion. For 9 months, I knew everything about celebrity pop culture, which is just great until you stop, and everything you thought you knew becomes old news. I left at the end of the season despite an offer to stay for a number of reasons (some good, some not-so-good). As far as first jobs go, it was fairly routine, and only demanding in the way that I was unhealthily obsessed with accomplishing a thousand other things (leaves work to write for two hours, wakes up early to train for a marathon) and would sleep 3 hours a night trying to fit everything in.
There may be no more creatively inspiring production office than Nickelodeon’s, where I had the pleasure of interning in 2009 for their Writing Fellowship. At the risk of sounding like a motivational millennial, this is where I started to believe in myself. I didn’t know how exactly I’d make a career in entertainment, or what part exactly, but the energy there made a creative career seem within reach.
Last Call w/ Carson Daly (2008)
One of the more memorable moments of the whole internship (which might be telling) is that my interview happened while I was in an airport in Ecuador, waiting for a flight to Costa Rica. The interview went well enough because we went over the allotted time and I had to end it when I heard “ultima llamada para Alex Jeffries…” over the loudspeakers. The internship itself introduced me to field shoots and production and figuring out how to contribute here and there to different departments, on whatever scale was needed. Though initially a little disappointed that the Late Night Talk Show I’d gotten an internship on had changed its format entirely right before my arrival, I did enjoy it. It’s also thanks to a friend I stayed in contact with after the internship that helped me to get a job at Ellen.