Producing a Winner

Author: Carol Schaal '91M.A.

From Los Angeles, Gwen Uszuko ‘06 called her folks in Denver at 4:30 a.m. with the big news—she had just won the TV Guide Network’s America’s Next Producer reality competition.

“I made them sign a confidentiality agreement,” she says, her fake-serious tone quickly dissolving into laughter.

It’s that touch of humor that helped her beat out nine other contenders to win the show—and the perks that came with it: $100,000 in cash, “all kinds of equipment,” the use of a production office in Hollywood for a year and a first-look deal with TV Guide Network.

“She has a really original comic voice,” noted guest judge David Nevins, president of Imagine TV, during the show’s finale.

For the 10-episode series that aired in July, contestants took on such challenges as designing a kid’s show, a dating show and a sports promo.

“The biggest thing I learned is that you’re never going to know everything or be prepared for everything,” Uszuko says. She also learned, to her delight, “I have a talent for scripted television.”

As she prepared to move to Los Angeles in late October, the 23-year-old said she is still somewhat intimidated by the cutthroat business she’s entering. “It’s a little scary,” she says. “That’s why it helps to know that I have all this support and the money to fall back on.” The support includes her family and her network of friends, other Notre Dame alums and the reality show contestants.

“I’ll probably be sleeping on couches for awhile,” she says. She’ll also be pitching ideas, in hopes that her comedic voice spins TV gold.