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Basic Instinct

She quit a job to follow her boyfriend to the West Coast. Then she quit a job to follow him to the East Coast.

Decisions like that sidetrack a woman's career. But Amy Introcaso-Davis steers by her gut. “I started out as a casting director,” she says. “You either have that instinct about people or you don't.”

Today, Introcaso-Davis is senior VP of development and production at Bravo Networks. She developed Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, Project Runway and Celebrity Poker Showdown, which helped move Bravo from genteel obscurity to the trend-frenzied reality spotlight.

She also has a 16-year-old son, 13-year-old twins and a husband: TV director John Henry Davis, the wandering beau of 20 years ago.

“I'm a child of television,” says Introcaso-Davis. “I have loved it since I was born. In theater, though, you kind of had to hide it.”

That's where she got her start. Fresh from Drew University in 1982, she became a receptionist at the off-Broadway powerhouse Playwrights Horizon. A week later, the head of casting fell ill, and she stepped in while still answering phones. She used two different voices.

Introcaso-Davis credits Playwrights Horizon Artistic Director Andre Bishop as a mentor. He taught her “the artist should be doing the art and we should stand back and just edit,” she says. “I still believe that in television. My job is to find the producers, not superimpose my point of view on them.”

In L.A., Introcaso-Davis worked for Marcia Kleinman and Associates, which cast New York theater actors in TV shows. When she returned to New York (at which point, her then-boyfriend proposed marriage), miraculously, CBS needed an East Coast head of casting, a post she held for six years.

That led to a job at Fox network, where she met Dawn Ostroff, today entertainment president of The CW network. Ostroff left Fox to become senior VP of programming at Lifetime and tapped Introcaso-Davis to head development and production there. Together, they introduced a wave of critically acclaimed series, and Lifetime was the top-rated cable network.

Yet she decided to leave. “I wanted time off,” she says. “Having three kids was part of it. But to be honest, I didn't watch Lifetime. It wasn't my demographic.”

Then Bravo called. She and Frances Berwick, executive VP of programming and production, hit it off. “She'll like a show that seems so-so and by the third cut turn it around,” says Berwick. “That's a talent.”

She's now a senior VP, and Bravo will expand its originals from two to three nights of reality shows a week this summer. Nevertheless, the former casting director admits one regret amid all that reality. “I miss working with actors,” she says. “You don't hear people say that very often in television, but I really do.”