The Antiestablishment Exec
Love her or hate her for Duck Dynasty, A+E's Nancy Dubuc is remaking cable her way.

Here's a sentiment network suits don't often express: "Protect the creative process." And another: With the right showrunner, "we can be very hands-off." That's the philosophy of Nancy Dubuc, the new president and CEO of A+E Networks (including A&E, History Channel, Lifetime, and a half-dozen other cable outlets), who's had spectacular results shredding the network-executive playbook. "I've flourished under a model of accountability with autonomy," says Dubuc of her 15-year tenure, during which she's effectively reinvented each channel in the company's portfolio. "I could have a miss and get right up the next day and do it again." Perhaps her greatest trick: liberating the History Channel from Civil War reenactors by turning it into a destination for original—and improbable—programming (Vikings or Swamp People, anyone?); it is now one of the top five cable networks watched by adults 18 to 49. In other words, she's had many more hits than misses, including TV's No. 1 reality show, Duck Dynasty (A&E); the No. 1 miniseries, The Bible (History), viewed by a staggering 95 million Americans (almost as many as watched the Super Bowl in 2013); and the Emmy-gobbling miniseries Hatfields & McCoys. Some of Dubuc's success is due to an innate understanding of what America actually wants to watch. But don't underestimate her nerve. "Some people call it fearlessness—I call it naïveté," she says. "But it seems to be working for me."

Nancy Dubuc, 44
Credit Check: Duck Dynasty, Project Runway, Bates Motel, Hatfields & McCoys, The Bible, Vikings
Respect the Audience: "Critics have darlings—shows that get a few million viewers, as opposed to some of our shows, which get ten times that. They think TV is for them, but they are the most out of touch. When critics like something, I often say, 'Whew! I know it will work.' When they love it, I'm like, 'Oh, shit.'"


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Cinematographers Get Ready for Their Close-Ups
The cult of the cinematographer used to be a closeted group—obsessive cineasts who debated anamorphic lenses and aspect ratios. But thanks to the Gravity effect (stunned euphoria followed by "Whoa," "Wow," and "That shit looks crazy!"), average moviegoers are suddenly name-checking Emmanuel "Chivo" Lubezki, the film's director of photography. With all due respect to Alfonso Cuarón and Sandra Bullock, it could be argued that the way Gravity looks is the very essence of the film (Lubezki, who also shoots for Terrence Malick, is no stranger to this proposition). Expect to see the power of the DP grow in the coming year, with help from Stuart Dryburgh and his eye-bugging visuals for Ben Stiller's The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (out December 25). TV fans have been hip to this trend since Michael Slovis' cinematic work on Breaking Bad, and Paul M. Sommers is creating something akin to poetry on the Sundance Channel's Rectify. Led by Lubezki, this group is gaining legitimate name recognition.

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The 2013 Hollywood Mavericks
 

The Transformer

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The Antiestablishment Exec

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The Rookie Filmmakers
 

The Indie Auteur