The actress, who speaks Russian and five other languages, brings an exotic flavor to the drama: She was born to an East Indian father and a Russian mother and has lived in Afghanistan, Russia and Europe. Although she doesn't get much opportunity to display it on "The Americans," she has a comedy background, studying improvisation at the Groundlings School.
— Greg Braxton
Nancy Dubuc | President and CEO of A&E Networks
Nancy Dubuc has been a rising star in TV programming for more than five years. She has one of the most eclectic portfolios in television, overseeing the A&E channel, History, Lifetime and the Lifetime Movie Network. Dubuc has significantly bolstered her channel's brands by expanding the definition of what constitutes historical and A&E programming.
The strategic pivot helped introduce "Pawn Stars," "American Pickers," "Hatfields & McCoys," and "The Bible" to History and "Duck Dynasty," "Storage Wars" and "Bates Motel" to A&E. She and her team have been successful in helping revive the TV movie genre for basic cable with such movies and miniseries as "Bonnie & Clyde," "Drew Peterson: Untouchable" and "Prosecuting Casey Anthony."
Dubuc's challenge is to continue her streak of finding offbeat entertainment nuggets and characters (Think Robertson family of "Duck Dynasty") that go against the established grain to create pop culture. And of course, she must manage that talent (Think Robertson family of "Duck Dynasty"). Her track record is the envy of many TV programmers, undoubtedly placing her near the top of any executive wish list — although A&E Networks would not want to let her go.
— Meg James
John Mulaney | Actor-comedian
At 31, John Mulaney is already a seasoned TV comedy vet, with five years as a writer on "Saturday Night Live," the Comedy Central special "New in Town" and multiple late-night appearances under his belt.
But in 2014 the Chicago native will take a giant leap forward with his own sitcom, "Mulaney," on Fox. In the grand tradition of comedians making the transition to series television, he'll star as a fictionalized version of himself. The show, executive produced by Lorne Michaels, will also include scenes of Mulaney's stand-up act, which with its accessible, observational style has invited comparisons to Jerry Seinfeld's.
After graduating from Georgetown, Mulaney earned a name for himself in New York's downtown comedy scene with "The Oh, Hello Show," in which he and fellow Hoya Nick Kroll played fiftysomething Upper West Side divorcees with a shared love for Alan Alda.
In 2008 Mulaney landed a writing job at "SNL," where he and Bill Hader created one of the show's most popular characters, night-life expert Stefon.
"'SNL' was great because you rewrite so much. Going through the week you change things all the time, and you cut things you really love" he says. "A sitcom is longer than an 'SNL' sketch but only 21 minutes long. You have to be brutal."
And though it may not have Alan Alda, it does have old-school appeal in the form of Elliott Gould, who plays Mulaney's neighbor, and Martin Short as his boss, a veteran comedian-turned-game show host. "He's the funniest person in the world," says Mulaney. "SNL's" Nasim Pedrad also costars.
Originally developed at NBC, the series is the latest Fox sitcom, following "Brooklyn Nine-Nine," with strong ties to the long-running sketch comedy show.
The multiple-camera comedy will be taped before a live studio audience, a style that has somewhat fallen out of fashion in TV comedy but one that Mulaney, given his experience on "SNL" and love for classic '80s sitcoms such as "The Golden Girls" and "Family Ties," feels strongly about. Having to do it all in one night, he says, is helpful: "There's a certain point where it's done."
— Meredith Blake