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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Miller

Becoming... Showrunner and Screenwriter Hank Steinberg (ABC's "For Life", "Without a Trace")

We are so fortunate to have another Showrunner on the podcast. This time, Hank Steinberg.

In 1997, Steinberg successfully sold the cable network HBO on 61*, a biographical drama about the legendary home-run race between Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle of the 1961 Yankees. The following year, Billy Crystal came aboard as a producer on the project and subsequently directed the film, starring Thomas Jane and Barry Pepper. 61* garnered 12 Emmy nominations, including Best Motion Picture for Television and Best Writing. Steinberg was also nominated for a WGA Award for the film.

Steinberg then created the CBS show Without a Trace, which aired from September 26, 2002, to May 19, 2009. Without a Trace follows the cases of a Missing Persons Unit of the FBI in New York City. During his tenure as executive producer and show-runner, the show won several Emmy awards and a Golden Globe for lead actor Anthony LaPaglia, as well as earning a SAG and Humanitas nomination. Steinberg was executive producer and show-runner of Without a Trace for the first four seasons.

Afterward, Steinberg created and was showrunner/executive producer of the ABC series The Nine, which he wrote with his sister, KJ Steinberg. The show ran for one season. Steinberg co-created and was executive producer of TNT's The Last Ship ,in 2014, which ran for five seasons. The Last Ship follows a naval destroyer crew, after a pandemic kills most of Earth's population.

Steinberg went on to create and serve as an executive producer of the ABC American legal drama For Life, which premiered February 11, 2020.The series is a fictional legal and family drama inspired by the life of convict turned attorney Isaac Wright, Jr. The success of the show led his Channel Road Productions company to an overall deal with Sony Pictures Television.

Most recently, Steinberg landed a straight to series order with Fox for DOC, an adaptation of the Italian series of the same name. Steinberg will executive produce under his Channel Road Productions.

In this episode, we talk about:

• His straight to series FOX show called Doc based on an Italian series

• The story behind getting the pitch for For Life and why he had to come back to it months later

• His advice on to get started writing for a TV show

• His writing process and to just get through the first draft

• Working with his sister KJ Steinberg on Nine (she is now working on This is Us)

• Advice for actors approaching pilot auditions and why there are no small roles

• The gentle balance between a strong pilot to hook in executives and having some discipline in holding back to have an engaging season

• The genesis of Without a Trace and how they came up with the idea (question from Mentor ⁠David Grae⁠) and why the pilot is the worst episode of a show

• How he got the idea for 61* which focused on Roger Marris and Mickey Mantle’s home run which was directed by Billy Crystal and garnered 12 Emmy nominations

• Spec script on The Duel (Burr vs Hamilton) and his particular appreciation for Hamilton the Musical


Variety article on⁠ new show DOC⁠



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