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The Watchman: Betsy Beers’ Babies, Who Dan Would Rather Watch, and Nerds Rule!

Some questions a reporter simply knows they will never get a straight answer to, such as: “Hey History, how much did you pay to make Roots?” Or “So Disney, who’s the next CEO?”

Or asking a hot producer which of their many shows on the air is their favorite. Betsy Beers, ace producer at ShondaLand, describes her various series, including the suddenly trendy Grey’s Anatomy, as her children. “They’re all my favorite in different ways,” she says. 

Beers cites their “birth order” when describing how the shows stack up. Grey’s is the college kid—doesn’t need a whole lot of guidance, but as the first-born, holds a special place in Mom’s heart. At 5, Scandal can “make its own breakfast,” says Beers. “It’s self-sufficient, but still wants you around.”

How to Get Away With Murder, for its part, is in “nursery school,” and needs the commensurate TLC. The Catch is a “toddler,” she says, while Still Star-Crossed, teased at the ABC upfront, is a newborn. 

“I just love babies!” beams Beers. 

Similarly, trying to get Dan Rather, host of The Big Interview on AXS TV (see page 21), to pick his favorite evening newscast doesn’t yield much. “I watch all three!” says Rather. “I flip around the dial a lot.” 

All three network anchors are “very good at what they do,” he says. Rather, who held the chair at CBS Evening News from 1981 to 2005, knows about the pressure. “You have to deal with ratings, you have to deal with the VP in charge of the VPs,” he says. 

And we switch gears completely with Weird Al Yankovic—OK, not completely, as the parody master actually appeared on Rather’s show last year—who has become band leader/cohost on IFC’s Comedy Bang! Bang! Yankovic’s viewing tastes include an awful lot of late night, including Last Week Tonight, Full Frontal, The Daily Show, The Tonight Show and The Late Show

His favorite host?

“I hate to pick a favorite,” says Yankovic, explaining how he’s friendly with many of them. 

OK then, how does Yankovic explain his career resurgence? “At some point, people realized nerds made all the cool stuff,” he says. “Nerds rule the world!”

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.