By Donna M. Marbury/MEDILL
Bucktown is the home of New Chapter Entertainment LLC, a television company that recently opened its doors with alums from The Oprah Winfrey show at the helm. Rick Segall, executive vice president of development and production, is following Chief Executive Officer Candi Carter’s vision to tell stories from Chicago and the Midwest. For 19 years, Segall worked as a producer and correspondent in several markets, including popular shows like “America’s Most Wanted” and “The Oprah Show,” where he earned an Emmy. He says that his love for storytelling, which he cultivated at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, is at the foundation of his efforts to make New Chapter a success.
Q: What are the advantages to producing TV in Chicago?
A: There’s a tremendous pool of both skilled broadcast professionals and incredible stories that are waiting to be told. When we’ve had meetings with networks in New York or Los Angeles, the responses we received were, ‘please don’t come to the coasts, stay right where you are, we need stories from middle America.’ We have no intention of moving. We want to be able to create great TV and branded entertainment from here in Chicago.
Q: What makes New Chapter different?
A: We’re not just about building individual shows, we’re trying to build brands. Whether that’s a cooking show or a money show, we want to build a deeper experience. We also started a branded entertainment division, because there is so much crossover these days between television and Internet. It’s a completely different landscape from when I graduated from Northwestern in 1993. We never would have imagined people would be getting so much of their entertainment and information from the Internet instead of TV.
Q: How did you meet Candi Carter, the chief executive officer?
A: I worked with Candi for three of my four years at “The Oprah Show.” She is an incredible leader and producer. She had a vision to create a company and do something great. “The Oprah Show” was the best possible training ground for both of us. Coming out of “The Oprah Show” set my partners and I up perfectly for being able to enter the non-scripted world. There comes a time where you need to forge your own path. We decided we had so many ideas that it was time to strike out and try this on our own. Candi was the force behind all of this. When she asked me to be a part of her vision, there was no doubt in my mind that this company would be a huge success.
Q: What kind of shows do you have in the works?
A: We have about 40 different shows in various stages of development. We created a fun, energetic, motivated staff and the sky is the limit. Some shows we are pitching to cable networks, some to broadcast networks. Some are talk shows designed for syndication. We have a few shows for international broadcast. We have some projects for the Web, going straight to sponsors and companies to create a loyal brand following.
Q: What has been the biggest adjustment for you going into this new position?
A: One of the challenges for me being a producer who has worked mostly as a creative in my career is learning the business of television. The past year has been an eye opening crash course in the business of the TV world. It has stretched my brain and I am a more educated producer, knowing why something may or may not succeed.
Q: How did you get into broadcast?
A: I always loved writing. I loved performing and had a real creative streak. I found journalism to be a great outlet for it. When I went to Northwestern, I knew that Medill was where I wanted to be. I really wanted to focus on my writing skills, I figured those skills would transfer into television, which early on I knew I wanted to do.
Q: What are some of your favorite TV shows?
A: My favorite TV shows now are very different than what I was watching 10 years ago, because now I am a married father with two kids. A lot of the shows I watch delight the kids. My family’s watching a lot of Food Network these days. My kids are becoming master chefs from watching “Chopped.” We are also watching a lot of the primetime music shows like “The Voice.”