Showrunners Insight: ‘Bull’s Mark Goffman & ‘Hit & Run’s Nicole Yorkin & Dawn Prestwich

The West Wing

TBI has partnered with LA- and London-based drama consultancy MediaXchange to get under the skin of some of the best showrunners in the business and find out what makes them tick, what their favourite shows are – and what series got cancelled before its time.

Today, we hear from Bull and The Umbrella Academy’s Mark Goffman and Hit & Run’s Dawn Prestwich and Nicole Yorkin.


Mark Goffman is currently the creator and showrunner of an upcoming limited series about Carlos Ghosn and his escape from Japan, produced by MBC Studios. Prior to this, he was an executive producer and writer on the Netflix series, The Umbrella Academy.

Goffman also executive produced and was the showrunner for Bull on CBS, now in its sixth season. He served as an executive producer for Limitless on CBS and USA’s White Collar, and was showrunner for Sleepy Hollow on Fox. His pilot Victor, starring John Stamos, was produced for NBC.

In two sentences, tell us how you became a showrunner/producer and why.

I was working as a speechwriter and got an opportunity to write for one of my favorite shows, The West Wing. I thought it might be short term and then I’d go back to public policy, but I loved the energy, excitement and impact we were having and so I have never looked back.

What’s the hardest part of your job?

Particularly in the first season of a show, when the vision is still being set and everyone is fairly new to the project, the hardest part is dividing your time between writing, production and post production.

All are happening simultaneously and all of them require your full attention. Yet it’s impossible to be on set working with the actors (often in another country) and also be in the writers room helping to break the next episodes and work out character arcs. It’s also very alluring to immerse in post because that’s where the final product is being made.

It’s critical to find a balance between these three, and take the time to communicate/delegate to the hundreds of talented people who are crafting the look and feel of the show.

The Umbrella Academy

What’s the best part of being a showrunner/producer?

There’s a feeling when you walk onto set and see the rehearsal for a scene for the first time. At some point this was just an idea and then words typed on a page, and now you’re in a Medieval castle and every detail has been so beautifully realized – the lighting, set design, props, wardrobe.

Then I’m always concerned whether the story is playing. So when the actors elevate the scene beyond your imagination, it’s incredibly gratifying. And if you don’t think any particular element is working, the best part of being a showrunner is you get to fix it (hopefully!).

What single action most helped you to become a showrunner/producer?

There’s no single action, but a compilation of dozens of smaller actions. Writing a pilot that was shot after writing several that didn’t. Working my way up from staff writer to exec producer on more than 100+ hours of TV. Going through the WGA showrunner training program. Writing features. Writing plays. Directing short films and commercials. Every one of these helped me develop a skill or appreciation for a void in a skill so I could work with people vastly more talented/experienced in all the different aspects of making a recurring series. Also, saying yes when I got the opportunity…

What is the biggest single challenge facing the industry?

The proliferation of channels, choices, streamers and global content creates incredible opportunity but also has yielded increased vertical integration, which in turn can limit talent and collaboration as the goal becomes owning and controlling the content rather than creating the best content and servicing audiences.

How can the industry improve diversity off-screen?

TV is such a collaborative medium that inclusion needs to be embraced at every level. We need to do more to develop the writing and directing programs, as well as all of the departments involved in the creative process. Equally important, decision-makers at the studios and networks need to reflect this diversity of voices.

Breaking Bad

Name the favourite show of your lifetime?

The West Wing inspired me to write one-hour television. Seinfeld, The Sopranos and Breaking Bad are all beyond genius and I could name so many more!

Best show to be cancelled too soon?

Freaks & Geeks and Arrested Development.

Which show nailed its finale and why?

Breaking Bad was the most satisfying finale experience I can remember. It felt wholly unexpected and exactly what was needed. Every scene gave us resolution and came to terms with the inevitable for the characters I had come to love.

What has been your proudest moment in the industry?

I recently got to work with literally my favourite director! I’m also really proud that I’ve helped discover and mentor other writers, has really been a highlight as I look back. Certainly there are episodes, and magic tricks where I’ve written myself out of a seemingly impossible corner, that I’m proud of.

Nicole Yorkin


Nicole Yorkin and Dawn Prestwich have worked on various television shows for over 20+ years, including Picket Fences, The Practice, Ally McBeal, Chicago Hope, Judging Amy, Carnivale and Brotherhood, for which they won the 2006 Peabody Award.

They were executive producers/showrunners on FX’s The Riches and Amazon’s Z. They have recently worked on shows with international production, serving as executive producers on AMC/Netflix’s The Killing and as creators/showrunners of Netflix’s Hit & Run, with production in New York and Israel.

In two sentences, tell us how you became showrunners/producers and why.

A show we wrote for Richard Dreyfuss got picked up by CBS, and we became the showrunners. We had worked our way up in the business over a period of years and were ready to be showrunners of our own material.

What’s the hardest part of your job?

Not compromising our vision.

What’s the best part of being a showrunner/producer?

Pulling together an amazing team of creatives – writers, directors, DPs, designers, etc. to make something that has basically come from our own imagination.

Dawn Prestwich

What single action most helped you to become a showrunner/producer?

Watching other showrunners in action – both successfully and unsuccessfully – so once we had the opportunity to do our own show, we were ready.

What is the biggest single challenge facing the industry?

Vertical integration of the media companies that run the business.

How can the industry improve diversity off-screen?

By nurturing the largest pool of diverse talents as possible – as writers, directors, crew members, etc.

Name the favourite show of your lifetime?

We both think there are too many we loved to name just one:

Nicole: I loved The Shield, The Sopranos and Line Of Duty.

Dawn: Succession and MASH.

Best show to be cancelled too soon?

Ours – Hit & Run.

Hit & Run

Which show nailed its finale and why?

Veep – and Nicole says: The Unforgotten season 4 finale made me cry.

What has been your proudest moment in the industry?

Many proud moments, including the recent premiere of our show in 195 countries, but winning the WGA Award for ‘Outstanding Script, for Drama Episode,’ for The Education Of Max Bickford pilot, after we’d been forced off the series by CBS, (which wanted to defang and homogenize our show,) was certainly a highlight.

Mark Goffman, Nicole Yorkin & Dawn Prestwich recently spoke at MediaXchange’s virtual webinar series, Showrunners Breaking The Mould. MediaXchange’s next series, Make It In America, provides deep insights into the US scripted market by offering a first-of-its-kind, virtual programme of detailed informational sessions and tailored one-on-one meetings with key industry buyers and producers. Speakers include producer & analyst Evan Shapiro, Tehran’s Alon Aranya & Quan Phung, SVP of originals at Topic Studios. Click here for more info.

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