Tom Werner, creator of hit television shows such as The Cosby Show, Roseanne, and That ’70s Show and chairman of the Boston Red Sox, encouraged Emerson students to use their unique voice as a way to emerge in the television business. Visual and Media Arts Chair Jonathan Wacks moderated a discussion with Werner on September 10 in the Bright Family Screening Room.
“It’s a tough business out there, but you all have voices,” said Werner to a room filled to capacity with students, alumni, and faculty. “When you are working on a project, listen to that unique voice, and you will find a way—it’s an incredible feeling when you do.”
Werner, who is credited with nearly 2,000 hours of half-hour comedy television, started his career doing research at ABC television. Soon, Werner partnered with Marcy Carsey to form Carsey-Werner Productions. The duo helped launch the careers of Robin Williams in Mork and Mindy, Tom Hanks in Bosom Buddies, Billy Crystal in Soap, and both Tony Danza and Danny Devito in Taxi. They also helped create hits such as A Different World, Third Rock from the Sun, Cybill, and Grace Under Fire.
In 2000, Werner, Carsey, and Caryn Mandabach joined forces with Geraldine Laybourne and Oprah Winfrey to start Oxygen, a 24-hour cable channel for women. Acquired by NBC in late 2007, the channel is one of the fastest growing cable networks.
Werner took over the Boston Red Sox organization in 2002, along with principal owner John Henry and president/CEO Larry Lucchino. In the 10 seasons that Werner has been with the club, the Red Sox have won two World Series—the first in 2004, ending an 86-year championship drought—and advanced to the post-season three straight seasons and six times in seven years for the first time in the team’s history.
Photo credit: Lauren Foley '13