By Carl Hansen
Growing up, I had two cats. One named Oscar and the other Emmy. I’ve known for as long as I can remember that I wanted to be in the entertainment business and always knew that even if I never won an actual award, I’d always have at least one Oscar and one Emmy in my life. Sadly, Oscar passed away when he was younger, but Emmy is still alive and kicking (and gloriously fat, living a beautiful existence being catered to by my parents)… and wouldn’t you know that this year I was nominated for my first Emmy award.
As a Co-Executive Producer of Shark Tank, the business sleeper-hit that airs Friday nights on ABC, I was responsible for a lot of the behind- the-scenes logistics and planning of the production. I remember being surprised at how big a production it was when I first started working on the show – employing two large sound stages on the Sony lot and having a sizeable staff and crew which soon would become like my family.
The show known for being tough as nails and its astute business acumen is actually quite a joy to work on. Most everyone gets along and there’s little behind-the-scenes drama – working on The Tank (as we affectionately call it) was one of the better work experiences I’ve had. And I, like many on the show, felt like I got an honorary business degree everyday from Shark Tank U.
I knew I was working on something special when my 79-year-old father told me how much he loved the show, and I heard the same thing from a 16-year-old girl on a ski lift in Vail. Families would tell me that they’d gather around the TV on a Friday night together to watch the show, learning about business along the way, and school classrooms were hosting mock Shark Tanks and teaching kids to invent and innovate. This was exactly the kind of show that I wanted to be a part of. Something entertaining, educational, and interesting. Something I could really be proud of.
And so it was an incredibly hard decision to leave the show when I was offered the director of production position in the Original Programming group at Fox Sports this past April. I had worked two seasons on The Tank, and even produced the opening main title sequence, but I was being offered an opportunity to help launch two new national networks (FS1 & FS2) and work as a production executive with top-notch talent producing amazing documentary content, like BEING: Mike Tyson about the eponymous boxing legend as you’ve never seen him before, or the gut-wrenching BEING: The Finest about the New York Police Department football team during their 2013 season. Other amazing shows that I could also be proud of.
It was also a job that came with benefits, which is relatively difficult to come by in the entertainment business. I had been freelance my entire life, and my wife was pregnant at the time, so it offered a little bit of stability to get us through the beginning of our son Henry’s life. And the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. Just a few weeks after I took the job, my wife was called into the hospital and Henry was born three weeks early, though otherwise healthy, happy and wide- eyed, staring at the world.
Starting a new job and having a baby felt a little like going through the same motions in my office as I was at home. Equally exhausting, exhilarating, and exciting. Naps at my work desk and naps on my living room couch became commonplace, and I was struggling to keep my eyes open during meetings. I was trying to keep track of the baby’s feeding schedule, and still make sure our dog was taken care of, and also answer every e-mail coming in at a fast and furious pace. It was a lot.
So it came as a surprise, when the Emmy nominations were announced in July, and Shark Tank was on the list for Outstanding Reality Program. I remember feeling so good for the show – thinking how much I missed my Tank family and how proud I was of everyone. And then I clicked on the nominee list and my name was there. “Co- Executive Producer, Carl Hansen.” I had completely forgotten that I had worked on the season that was nominated. It took me a second to comprehend what I was seeing. It was something I had reached for since I was a kid and it was a feeling I’ll never forget… of dreams coming true.
And while the show didn’t win the prize when the night came, it was an incredible experience to be in a room with so many talented people – we even saw Bob Newhart win his first Emmy and I got to congratulate him after the show. Had I told him, he probably would have congratulated me on my first Emmy, that gloriously fat cat still living in my parents’ house.
Carl Hansen is a network television executive, producer and filmmaker originally from Beverly, MA. Upon graduation from college he wrote for IMAGINE Magazine and is to this day IMAGINE’s Boston Correspondent at Large. You can see some of his work at www.youtube.com/FHANSEN1