Time Magazine called Marcy Carsey and Tom Werner TV producers with the “Midas touch.” Their astonishing run of hits includes That ‘70s Show, The Cosby Show, Roseanne, 3rd Rock From The Sun, Grounded For Life, A Different World, Grace Under Fire, Cybill, Cosby, to name a few. In its three decade existence The Carsey-Werner Company has won multiple Emmys, Golden Globes and more and produced nearly 2000 episodes of unforgettable television that is celebrated and loved worldwide. One of the last remaining independent TV companies, these prolific producers have had an unprecedented impact on American culture and the entertainment business. Their classic shows continue to be seen in over 175 countries, in 50 different languages.
“To be worthy of its airtime,” was the goal for every show developed by Marcy Carsey and Tom Werner, a philosophy that began with their collaboration in the early 1970s as programming executives at ABC, shepherding such shows as Happy Days, Barney Miller, Mork and Mindy, Taxi, Dynasty and Soap. “We found if you wanted to produce good television, you had to do it in a unique way, ignoring the trends and trusting your instincts,” said Carsey. When they started their own company, both “demanded a return to basics.” For Marcy and Tom this meant bringing together the finest talent available in television including the best writing teams, producers, casting agents, actors, designers, and directors. They always felt that talented individuals given the opportunity to express themselves could flourish and grow in an environment of creative freedom. Because of their fierce determination to be independent producers, Marcy and Tom were initially considered renegades in the business. But their determination to “bet on ourselves” and concentrate on “quality” turned The Carsey-Werner Company into an industry powerhouse.
In November 1980 Marcy left ABC, where as senior vice-president of Prime Time Series she was responsible for the creation, development and supervision of all prime time programming. She took out a second mortgage on her home and started her own production company. Tom succeeded her at ABC as head of series television, but less than a year later he was persuaded to join her fledgling company as an independent producer. In 1981 they formed the Carsey-Werner Production Company.
The company’s very existence was threatened almost immediately in the first year by a Writers’ Guild strike and an actor’s strike. Surviving that, their first series to reach air was OH, MADELINE (ABC 1983-84), starring the multi-talented Madeline Kahn but their breakout success came later in 1984 with the enormously popular, smash hit, THE COSBY SHOW. In the early ‘80s Bill Cosby was a well-known stand-up comedian with a couple of fairly successful television series to his credit, but to the television networks he was deemed risky. Carsey-Werner believed in Cosby, his brilliance and “every man” appeal. They were right and their confidence in him was rewarded with a show that, beginning in 1984, became a consistent ratings leader, is credited with single handedly reviving the sitcom, was the genesis of NBC’s “Must See TV” and has become one of the all-time classic TV comedies.
Another personality that Carsey and Werner believed in was a comedienne they discovered on THE TONIGHT SHOW – Roseanne Barr. Taking another chance, they developed a series around her. The result was a mega hit show that ran for 9 seasons on ABC. Another hit for Carsey-Werner was THE COSBY SHOW spin-off, A DIFFERENT WORLD, which aired on NBC beginning in 1987. The following season, 1988-89, the company accomplished a feat that has rarely been seen in television history, producing the year’s three highest rated shows: THE COSBY SHOW at number one, followed by ROSEANNE and A DIFFERENT WORLD.
Carsey-Werner endured a lull in the early 1990s but fortunes quickly changed with the premiere of GRACE UNDER FIRE in 1993 for ABC and CYBILL in 1994 for CBS.
Then in 1995 Carsey and Werner created one of their most popular sitcoms, 3RD ROCK FROM THE SUN. The concept for the show, “aliens on a field trip,” was given to the husband-wife writing team of Bonnie and Terry Turner, who shaped it into a vehicle that would allow for wry observations on the human condition and hilarious alien/human encounters. To star in the show they brought in film veteran John Lithgow and Saturday Night Live alumnus, Jane Curtin. In 1996 3rd ROCK aired on NBC and became an immediate hit.
In 1998 Carsey-Werner scored another success, reaching a whole new generation with THAT '70S SHOW for the Fox network, giving the company the distinction of having placed hits with all four broadcast networks. That show launched the careers Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis, two of today’s biggest stars, and became another Carsey-Werner world-wide phenomenon. Now in its eleventh off-network season THAT '70S SHOW continues to rank among the top ten comedies and is a hit around the world.
Today, innovation and the independent spirit The Carsey-Werner Company was founded on are alive and well as the company continues to forge new creative directions and opportunities for its extraordinary library of classic television shows.