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August 29, 2019

Mind Meld

A pair of like-minded producers are prospering on all platforms

Mara Reinstein
  • Contestants vie in Million Dollar Mile, from Fly on the Wall Media.

    Michael Yarish/Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc.
  • Allison Grodner and Rich Meehan

    Sonia Flemming/CBS

On September 26, 2018, Will Smith marked his 50th birthday by diving off the edge of the Grand Canyon for YouTube's Will Smith: The Jump; Big Brother announced its latest winner live on CBS; and the elaborate competition show Million Dollar Mile started preproduction.

In other words, it was just another day for Fly on the Wall Media.

"We don't pick the easy shows," Allison Grodner, the firm's cofounder says with a laugh. "And with every show comes a new fire that we've always been able to put out." Her partner Rich Meehan agrees: "We've really had to think on our feet and adapt."

Since forming Fly on the Wall in 2009, Grodner and Meehan have produced more than 50 unscripted series, specials and pilots, which add up to roughly 2,000 hours of programming across broadcast and cable networks and various digital platforms.

They developed 500 hours in 2018 alone. Their hits include Flip or Flop Atlanta (HGTV), Katy Perry Live: Witness World Wide (YouTube), This Is Life LIVE (TLC) and their signature series, Big Brother, which will start its 21st season this summer.

"It remains a unique format, one that people have tried to replicate but haven't been able to," Grodner says of the stalwart series, in which often-rowdy house guests live together for 14 weeks and compete in challenges. "We have an amazing fan base that is actually running generations now. People are coming to casting to say they grew up watching it."

Grodner and Meehan were working on Big Brother independently as producers when they decided to merge. A coproducer of Rescue 911 for seven years and a two-time winner of the Emmy for Outstanding Children's Program for The Teen Files, Grodner was an ideal complement for Meehan, an MTV and VH1 vet who earned his stripes working on the MTV Video Music Awards and Singled Out.

"We have similar sensibilities," Meehan explains. "We're hands-on producers. We love being in the trenches. So even when one of us isn't present, we know we're going to be on track with what the other is thinking." Besides, Grodner notes, "It's a lot more fun when you can brainstorm and create with a partner!"

In addition to Big Brother and the second season of Celebrity Big Brother, the two have been working on Million Dollar Mile, which is now wrapping its first season with football star Tim Tebow as host and LeBron James as an executive producer. They also aim to take on three to four upcoming live events.

"We never want to do one kind of show," Meehan says. "If it's a good idea, we'll do it. We want to be the company that can do anything."


This article originally appeared in emmy magazine, Issue No. 6, 2019

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