The Man Behind AMC's Success
By Scott Huver
Sixties-Era Madison Avenue. Schoolteacher-turned-drug dealer. Zombies. Yeah, things definitely aren’t black and white over at AMC anymore. Vice president of original programming Jeremy Elice has built a career around living on the edge—risk-taking TV-wise, anyway. After a stint in indie-film production, Elice was visiting college friends in Los Angeles when a surprise temp offer landed him at FX Networks as an executive assistant in the original programming development department. “I called my parents and said, ‘I’m not flying home tomorrow,’” remembers Elice, who had just seen the first cut of The Shield. “I’d never seen anything quite like it. And I actually asked my boss, ‘Is this is going to be on television?’”
With Elice’s development fingerprints on series such as Nip/Tuck and Rescue Me, AMC beckoned, looking for someone to open their West Coast original-programming department. Mad Men was the game-changer, and Breaking Bad—which Elice snatched up after seeing it stall in development at FX Networks—solidified AMC’s rep.
Instead of simply attempting to mimic the success of Mad Men with additional retro-era series or repeating Breaking Bad with similar antiheroic leads, the AMC team is readying a new roster of rule-breakers—the conspiracy thriller Rubicon and zombified The Walking Dead. “We look at movie genres that we love,” says Elice. “Mad Men and Breaking Bad checked off a couple categories, and we just moved down the list.”
The benefits? “First, people stopped calling us ‘A&E’ when they came to meetings,” laughs Elice. “Second, we suddenly had access to these incredible writers, producers, directors and actors who wanted to be in business with us because they appreciated the types of shows we were trying to do. It’s made everything after that possible.”