Taught by John Lehr


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Class hosted by: John Lehr

Star, Creator and Writer at 10 Items or Less (TBS), JailBait (Sony/Crackle) and Quickdraw (Hulu)

John Lehr is the star/creator/writer for “10 Items or Less” (TBS), “JailBait” (Sony/Crackle) and “Quickdraw” (Hulu). He created/produced pilots for Fox (“Team McPhearson”), TBS (“John Lehr’s Movie Club”) and Comedy Central (“Let it Ride”). Script/development deals include “Retreat” (NBC), “The Loop” (HBO), Troubadour (MTV), “Life on Mars” (Sony/BBC), “King of Beers” (EUE/Sokolow), “Tommy Chong’s Pipe Dreams” (TBS). Lehr is one of the original Geico Cavemen from the wildly successful commercial campaign. He appeared in dozens of spots, including the first commercial as a caveman boom operator, the caveman in therapy with Talia Shire, the tennis spot with Billy Jean King, Superbowl spots with Phil Simms and many more. John has appeared in numerous television series, including “Friends” and was a series regular on “Jesse,” both for Warner Brothers/NBC. His feature film roles include “The Sweetest Thing,” and three Noah Baumbach films, “Kicking and Screaming,” “Mr. Jealousy,” and “Highball.” John’s hosting credits include “News Weasels” for E!; “I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!” for ABC; CBS’ special “Clash of the Commercials” with co-host Heidi Klum; and “John Lehr’s Movie Club” for TBS. Full Bio »



Learn from a professional showrunner who's worked with Norman Lear, the creators of FRIENDS, TBS, Hulu, Sony, and more!

For many television writers and creators, becoming a showrunner is the dream job. And the role seems fairly straightforward: deliver quality episodes on time and on budget. But anyone who has been or worked with a showrunner knows that goal is easier said than done.

A showrunner must straddle both the creative and business sides of television. They manage the writers’ room, talent, and directors, and they help keep a unified vision of the show while also managing budgets, schedules, the crew, and executives’ expectations.

With so much to learn and understand, it seems crazy that most showrunner’s learn the position on the job! But in this exclusive Stage 32 class, you’ll learn everything you need to know about what a showrunner does, how they do it, and how you can excel at it.

Over his 30-year entertainment career, John Lehr has worked under amazing showrunners, from legendary Norman Lear to FRIENDS’ creators Kevin Bright, David Crane, and Marta Kauffman. John has also created and served as showrunner on his own series for TBS, Sony, and Hulu.

Over four sessions, John will show you what it takes to be a showrunner and, ultimately, everything that goes into making a television series.

You’ll cover the differences between creator and showrunner, how seasons and episode budgets differ, overseeing departments so that you’re not micromanaging, handling production setbacks, working with network executives, and more.

By the end of these four sessions, you’ll have more information about showrunning than many first-time showrunners. Whether you’re looking to become a showrunner or team up with one for your project, this class is an invaluable opportunity to learn how it’s done from a professional showrunner.

What You'll Learn

Session 1: Development

In week one, we will look at the role of the showrunner in the development process. The goal in development is to create a show that can run the gauntlet from pitch to pilot to season one pickup and a showrunner must balance creative originality with an eye towards what it will take to actually produce episodes on time and on budget. We will focus on how you can best assess your options and make the right choices before you dive into the development phase.

  • Creator vs. Showrunner
  • Having a showrunner assigned to your project
  • A first-time showrunner’s do’s and don’t’s
  • Schedules (examples for handouts)
  • Hiring a line producer/Co-EP
  • The big job: Instilling confidence

Q&A with John

Session 2: Prep

This week we will focus on the most important process for the showrunner: preparation. A well-planned production should be flexible enough to handle the eventual wildcard issues that arise in shooting and post. We will discuss budgets (with handouts), the hidden costs that need to be ferreted out, and the power of amortization. We will also review basic management styles and their effectiveness.

  • Budgets — communicating with creative EP’s to get the best for your buck
  • Season budgets vs. episodic budgets
  • How to oversee departments rather than manage them
  • Working with writers as a manager and rewriter to get scripts finalized
  • Setting the tone
  • Padding the budget (and putting it on the screen)

Q&A with John

Session 3: The Shoot

In week 3, we will examine where the rubber meets the road. A set is one of the most collaborative creative places to be, but it can also circle the drain very quickly. Having the ability to identify problematic situations in real-time and solve them with a cool head is where the showrunner’s mettle is determined. We will discuss the unique combination of assessing budgetary and scheduling issues on the fly as the showrunner manages a crew of 100 people or more. Leadership is key here and sometimes that means falling on your sword for the greater good.

  • Hot cost reports — what are they and how to read them
  • Leading the crew/cast through troubled waters
  • Managing network expectations
  • How to involve creative EP’s when putting out fires
  • Common pitfalls

Q&A with John

Session 4: Post

In this final class, we discuss the showrunner’s role in post-production. The showrunner must field network notes and work with the post-production supervisor to get the show over the finish line. At the same time, they must look forward and be prepared for a possible pickup for the following season. Preparing and justifying new budgets while ushering episodes throughout the technical and often frustrating QC process can be a difficult juggling act. Finally, we will discuss the importance of providing production services and how to navigate the process of essentially becoming your own studio.

  • Strategies to address the exhaustion factor
  • Network notes on cuts
  • What is QC?
  • Prepping for a season 2 pick up
  • Production services options

Q&A with John



  • This class is designed for all-level writers and TV creatives - beginner, intermediate and advanced who are looking to learn the art of showrunning.
  • Although this class is on demand, we recommend you complete the exercises and assignments to make sure you make the most of your time. 

About Your Instructor

John Lehr is the star/creator/writer for “10 Items or Less” (TBS), “JailBait” (Sony/Crackle) and “Quickdraw” (Hulu). He created/produced pilots for Fox (“Team McPhearson”), TBS (“John Lehr’s Movie Club”) and Comedy Central (“Let it Ride”). Script/development deals include “Retreat” (NBC), “The Loop” (HBO), Troubadour (MTV), “Life on Mars” (Sony/BBC), “King of Beers” (EUE/Sokolow), “Tommy Chong’s Pipe Dreams” (TBS).

Lehr is one of the original Geico Cavemen from the wildly successful commercial campaign. He appeared in dozens of spots, including the first commercial as a caveman boom operator, the caveman in therapy with Talia Shire, the tennis spot with Billy Jean King, Superbowl spots with Phil Simms and many more.

John has appeared in numerous television series, including “Friends” and was a series regular on “Jesse,” both for Warner Brothers/NBC. His feature film roles include “The Sweetest Thing,” and three Noah Baumbach films, “Kicking and Screaming,” “Mr. Jealousy,” and “Highball.” John’s hosting credits include “News Weasels” for E!; “I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!” for ABC; CBS’ special “Clash of the Commercials” with co-host Heidi Klum; and “John Lehr’s Movie Club” for TBS.


Q: What is the format of a lab?
A: Stage 32 Next Level Classes are typically 90-minute broadcasts that take place online using a designated software program from Stage 32.

Q: Do I have to be located in a specific location?
A: No, you can participate from the comfort of your own home using your personal computer! If you attend a live online webinar, you will be able to communicate directly with your instructor during the class.

Q: What are the system requirements?
A: You will need to meet the following system requirements in order to run the webinar software: Windows 7 or later Mac OS X 10.9 (Mavericks) or later.
If you have Windows XP, Windows Vista and Mac OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion): The webinar software does not support these operating systems. If you are running one of those operating systems, please upgrade now in order to be able to view a live class. Upgrade your Windows computer / Upgrade your Mac computer

Q: What if I cannot attend the live lab class?
A: If you cannot attend a live class, or purchase the class on-demand, you will have access to the entire recorded broadcast, including the Q&A. 

Q: Will I have access to the lab afterward to rewatch?
A: Yes! After the purchase of the lab, you will have on-demand access to the video recording, which you can view as many times as you'd like!


If you have a generic question about Stage 32 education you can take a look at our frequently asked questions section on our help page, or feel free to contact support with any other inquiries you might have.

Reviews Average Rating: 1 out of 5

  • I was very disappointed in this "class" which is actually an extended Q&A session. Lack of onscreen bullet points to introduce topics. Very disorganized and rambling approach. I also did not receive any materials to go with it. Don't believe the hype.

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