“Burning Love”: Anatomy of a Hit

/ Jun 4, 2013


During the Best in Class Case Study “Burning Love” at STREAM today, executives responsible for bringing “Burning Love” to Yahoo! and later to E! discussed how the show came to be.

The show got its start from the love Ken Marino and his wife, Erica Oyama, shared for “The Bachelor.” Both had worked on “Children’s Hospital,” for which she had already written episodes. With Ken’s encouragement, she drafted the “Burning Love” pilot and showed it to the head of of Abominable Pictures, the production company for “Children’s Hospital.” Abominable brought it to Ben Stiller’s Red Hour films and the two companies presented the show to Yahoo!.

Paramount Insurge, a subsidiary of Paramount Pictures that focuses on digital works, also signed on to produce. All sides knew that the emphasis had to be in the quality of the product, rather than the recognizability of the names. Regardless, Red Hour’s Mike Rosenstein noted a lot of established comedic actors like Michael Ian Black, Jennifer Anniston, Michael Cera and more were willing to participate at a significantly lower rate than they were used to being paid, if anything at all — actors wanted in just because the content was so good.

But the actor’s budget wasn’t the only reduced price. Marino both starred as firefighter Mark Orlando and directed the entire season, the script called for short episodes and the source material was just reality TV. Without any reason to shoot explosive special effects or hire stunt doubles for bold feats, the cast was free to focus on the jokes. In fact, Amy Powell, President of Paramount Insurge, remembers, “We rented a mansion in Calabasas, sent some donuts, and said, ‘Have some fun.'” Besides some notes about the amount of nudity or cursing they could include, “Burning Love” had near-complete creative freedom.

Pair all of that with a dedicated spot on the Yahoo! homepage for new episodes and the show’s success wasn’t entirely a surprise to the producers. What was were three Webby Awards, four Streamys, and a core audience of 11 million viewers in the US for the first season alone (and that’s not even including when viewership peaked somewhere much higher in midseason).

The success even landed “Burning Love” on E!, and the show is currently in its third season on Yahoo!. Check out our review of Burning Love Season 2.

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