David Madden, Producer and Studio Executive

In this episode, acclaimed entertainment executive David Madden takes us through his over 40-year career spanning film, television, and streaming. He provides unique insider perspectives on the major shifts happening in the industry and the evolution of prestige TV.

David shares insights from his early days as a script reader at Fox in the 1980s to overseeing iconic shows like The Walking Dead at AMC. He explains his current pioneering role at Wattpad WEBTOON Studios, a company using online platforms and data to discover new writers and transform entertainment creation. He offers invaluable lessons for navigating Hollywood and nurturing talent as technologies, platforms, and consumer behavior evolve.

Early Career at Fox

David talks about getting his start in the early 1980s as a script reader at Fox, after months of unsuccessfully trying to get a job there. He learned the importance of giving constructive feedback on scripts rather than being dismissive.

Rising Through the Ranks

David discusses working his way up at Fox, collaborating with producer Robert Cort on films like Romancing the Stone. He gained insights into developing scripts and making movies more marketable. David shares his experience moving to Paramount as an executive in the mid-1980s, where he oversaw major box office hits like Fatal Attraction and The Untouchables.

Embracing Prestige Television

David explains having an “aha moment” watching The Sopranos, realizing television could offer the same depth and sophistication as feature films. This led him to pivot his career to focus on premium cable series.

On the impact of The Sopranos:

I was kind of staggered by how deep the character went and how complicated and how sophisticated the storytelling was, which was certainly as good as most, if not as good as any movie that you could watch. And that made me sort of curious about, oh, if TV could do that, well, then what else can TV do?

Hits Across Cable Networks

As an executive, David helped develop acclaimed and award-winning shows, including The Shield at FX, The Americans and The Walking Dead franchise, and Better Call Saul.

Running Programming

David discusses serving as President of Programming at both Fox Broadcasting and AMC Networks. At Fox, he oversaw the meteoric success of Empire.

Wattpad WEBTOON Studios

David details his current role leading content for Wattpad WEBTOON Studios, which discovers creators on its online storytelling platforms and turns their IP into entertainment properties. David explains how Wattpad operates, with over 90 million users worldwide uploading hundreds of millions of stories.

On using data to connect with the fans:

When there’s a title that means something…we are able to get to our audience and say, if you like the book, if you’ve heard of the book, this movie’s coming for you.

Tune in to hear David and Kevin discuss the entertainment industry’s shifts from the disappearance of mid-budget films to the explosion of prestige TV. David shares invaluable perspectives from shepherding iconic shows while demonstrating how to reinvent oneself. His current pioneering role at a tech-driven studio discovering creators online exemplifies how he’s stayed ahead of industry changes. David Madden’s career is a masterclass in adaptability, creativity, and nurturing talent across evolving platforms.

Don’t Kill the Messenger, hosted by movie and entertainment research expert Kevin Goetz, brings his book Audienceology to life. This bi-monthly podcast takes a peek behind the filmmaking curtain as Kevin talks with famous filmmakers, studio executives, stars, and other creatives about movies, filmmaking, audience test screenings, and much more.

For more information about Kevin Goetz:

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