Disney Channel’s successful live-action comedy series Raven’s Home continues its fourth season March 19 with new episodes executive-produced by veteran Warren Hutcherson. Hutcherson — who took over production of season four in 2019 after the untimely death of Eunetta Boone, season three’s executive producer — has kept the show among Disney’s most watched and co-viewed shows, with a mix of comedic and family-oriented storylines revolving around series star Raven-Symoné. Hutcherson, whose career spans from performing standup comedy in New York in the 1980s to writing for such shows as Saturday Night Live, The Bernie Mac Show and Living Single, spoke with MCN senior content producer R. Thomas Umstead about making the switch to writing kids-targeted programming and the opportunities for writers and producers in a multiplatform television environment.
You’ve previously worked on successful adult-targeted comedy series, so how difficult was it to adjust to writing for a younger target audience? I didn’t feel like it was that big of an adjustment. Most of the shows that I’ve worked on in my opinion are family shows. Obviously, there were subjects that Disney was not going to tackle, but it’s pretty much the same.
How was your experience working with Raven-Symoné, and are you surprised that she and the show continue to connect with viewers? Not at all. Raven is very professional. Throughout her career she learned all the right lessons as far as being in front of the camera, and she was really eager to learn about what happens behind the camera. She had a vision of what she wanted to do, and I was fortunate because she had a lot to do with the decision of me stepping into the leadership position at the show. We both said, ‘Let’s achieve as much as we can with the show,’ and I’m always going to respect her for that.
All time favorite TV show? There’s a tie for first place: Barney Miller and The Bernie Mac Show.
Favorite podcast? The Joe Rogan Experience.
Vacation bucket destination? The Maldives, although I think it’s sinking.
Books on your nightstand? It Was All a Lie: How theRepublican Party Became Donald Trump by Stuart Stevens; Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Wilkie.
Shows on your must watch list? Speechless and Superstore.
From a producer’s standpoint, is this the best time to be in the business given the emerging content distribution platforms available? I think this is the best time to break into the industry. Back in the day, you would write a script and hope somebody read it. You had to show value to people who had some kind of connection in the business, and I feel those days are gone. Today, you could be 12 years old and start a YouTube channel, and if it turns into something huge, the industry will come to you. There are so many platforms available now that if you really want to get your voice out, then you can. If people are really compelled by that voice, then the money tree will shake in your direction.
African-Americans are increasing their industry presence both in front of and behind the camera. Having experienced similar periods where Black content was popular only to eventually fall out of favor with distributors, do you think the current industry momentum is sustainable? It’s a really good question. If you look at the ’90s, that was true: They made a lot of Black shows and then they stopped. So there’s a sort of cyclical thing that happened in the industry up to now. What I do like now that makes me think that things might be changing is that you have a few more Black creators higher up in the food chain. That creates a situation where there’s going to be some consistent storytelling. But I’m also a realist. What I want to see is consistent good storytelling. I don’t want to see a Black version of Gilligan’s Island.
Where do you see yourself in the next five years? I’ve been so enthusiastic about being a father that I really hadn’t thought about it. The one thing I’ve been thinking about is doing a one-man [stage] show. Or I could write a show and do it on YouTube.
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