Sep 25, 2019
By Tara Weiss
The head of BET+ talks about the opportunity to program to fans of black culture and stories.
Our In the Office With ... series, gives Viacom executives the opportunity to reveal a little bit about who they are, how they lead, and what drives them in the day-to-day.
"Our commitment as a brand is to tell stories that portray the black experience and that speak to lovers of black culture. "
general manager, BET+
TW: You mentioned that The Wire was transformative for you—providing a magical feeling of discovering a show you can’t stop watching. How do you find those?
DG: It’s three things. One, knowing that you're a programmer, not a producer. That means having an idea of what people would love to watch, what people are watching, and what's missing. For example, you might not think we should use the scraps of the mushroom to make a chocolate bar, but actually, that really works. It's understanding those weird combinations that people might not think of.
Two, producers are putting their all on the line for a show and that takes courage and an appetite for risk. It’s important to respect that so there's a level of trust and producers come to you when they have an idea. I've been fortunate to develop a handful of relationships with producers who know that I'm just a TV nerd who wants to see really dope, exciting stuff.
The third thing is understanding and respecting what the data tells you.
TW: How intense is the competition for good content these days?
DG: It's a great time to be a writer or producer. There are lots of places to sell to. That means if we find a great project or a great project comes to us, it's going to be competitive. It behooves us to be more proactive in getting projects before other people even get to look at them.
On the bicoastal transition: One of the big decisions I had to make in taking this job—which is a huge and exciting opportunity that resonates with things that I've been thinking about for many years—is that I'm based in L.A. and the beating heart of Viacom is in New York City. As part of the process of my coming here, Scott [Mills, BET President] definitely recruited and courted my wife. My wife and I are a team. She's the consigliere. I had to get the commitment and support from my wife and now increasingly from my seven-year-old and my five-year-old. I'm doing all of this because of my family.
Top five TV shows: The Wire. Breaking Bad. The Simpsons. Hip-Hop Evolution. ESPN 30 for 30.
The story behind his Gucci sneakers: My wife gave me permission to buy them.
On signing the deal to bring Eddie Murphy Delirious to Netflix: People were responding really well to Eddie Murphy Raw, and I said, ‘Well, what about Delirious? Is anybody doing it?’ No one had ever made the deal. So I saw it as an opportunity to bring something that's iconic. It's the kind of thing that you just do and you hope people watch it. And fortunately, a lot of people watched that.