Greer Shephard on cable vs. network TV and her new series Trust Me

Greer Shephard is a prominent producer of edgy cable programming. She is responsible for FX’s plastic surgery drama Nip/Tuck and legal thriller The Closer. Her latest series is advertising-based comedy Trust Me for TNT. Shephard founded the Shephard/Robin Company with producer partner and former L.A Law exec producer Michael Robin following a successful stint as head of drama development at ABC during the days of The Practice, NYPD Blue and the remake of UK crime drama Cracker.

You have produced a number of successful cable series, how do you find working for the cable networks?
It’s been years since we’ve gone back to network television because we’ve got so much creative latitude [on cable]. The cable networks know their brand and they’re not trying to appeal to everyone, they are very clear about who will be watching the show. It’s almost a throwback to how the development process used to work at the networks.

The cable networks also let you explore and discover, they are not creative clamps. There is less money but that’s a Faustian bargain that I will make every single day.

Would you ever return to network TV?
I don’t think I could ever go back. I have the ability to say ‘no’ on this side of the fence. When you are part of a corporation, they own a little part of your soul. The networks, now, it’s almost like they’ve been colonised by a large empire that’s not there on a day-by-day basis.

Are you aware of the international reach of your shows?
The studios will show us campaigns and we’ll get reports of how shows are doing. It’s great fun and because there’s often a half year’s delay. It’s like Christmas all over again.

You have a deal with Warner Bros. Television. How is that working for you?
We have had an overall deal with Warner Bros. for going on six years. Because they aren’t affiliated with a network, they’re hungry to sell everywhere. Even with basic cable, where they didn’t have an existing deal, they let us build the business model, which lead to the start of Warner Horizon, which focuses on cable production.

Trust Me (formerly Truth in Advertising), your latest series, debuts in January. Tells us about the show?
The show is set in an advertising agency in Chicago. It focuses on the relationship between two friends and partners, the focus is the ‘bromance’ between the two characters (played by Will & Grace’s Eric McCormack and Ed’s Tom Cavanagh). The show is quite humorous, it has a Billy Wilder rhythm to it.