MARK BURNETT, 46
To hear Mark Burnett tell it, there is no one secret to making television you can’t turn off. “If I knew, I’d have a lot more shows on the air,” says Burnett, who evidently thinks fourteen seasons of Survivor and six of The Apprentice (not to mention The Casino, The Contender, Rock Star: INXS, Rock Star: Supernova, and the new Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?) aren’t sufficient. Which is why he’s still going full-bore—and still atop the ratings even as dramas like CSI, Grey’s Anatomy, and Desperate Housewives have made gains at the expense of reality shows. “I treat everything I do like a hundred-million-dollar feature film,” Burnett says. It’s fitting, then, that he’s partnered with Steven Spielberg for his upcoming project, On the Lot (think: the indie-film equivalent of American Idol). “Will prime-time television be user-generated in five years?” he asks. “Who knows? But one thing you can be sure of is that we’ll all still be going to a dark room and watching movies with 200 people and eating popcorn.” You can also be sure that you’ll be watching Burnett’s creationswhether on your iPod or your iPhonefor a very long time.
Musician and Producer
“I felt like I’d been in one place for so long,” says überproducer Timbaland. “I’m bigger than just one sound. I’m a music producer, not a rap producer.” And true to form, hip-hop’s mad genius, né Timothy Mosley, engineered a slick rebirth and has emerged as the new King of Pop. He used his robotic beats to bring Nelly Furtado back all sexy and to help Justin Timberlake bring sexy back. Timbaland’s reign is sure to continue in 2007: His new solo album, Shock Value, features collaborations with the usual suspects (Jay-Z, J.T.) but also with unlikely partners such as the Hives, Fall Out Boy, and even Elton John. “He came in and played piano for seven hourswhat a genius,” the soft-spoken producer says of Sir Elton. Later this year, Timbaland will sprinkle his magic dust on releases by Chris Brown, M.I.A., Duran Duran, and possibly Coldplay, each artist offering a new vessel for his oddball creativity. “Things like banging pots and pans give me ideas,” he says. “There’s no M.O.I just have fun. I guess I just hear things differently than most people.”
TOM SCOTT, 40
CEO, Plum TV
Perhaps you remember Tom Scott, one of the two “Juice Guys” who sold the lemonade stand turned juggernaut Nantucket Nectars to Ocean Spray for $70 million in 1997. The entrepreneur then bet on his home turf again, buying the island’s TV station and in 2004 launching what he calls his second “garage band,” Plum TV, a network that caters to ultra-high-end viewers in their playgrounds. “Vacation is an amazing time to reach people in the right way,” Scott says. “People make major purchase and life decisions.” Hence Plum TV’s mix of smart fare like Open Exchange, a series of sit-downs with titans of industry, and upscale-lifestyle programming. Scott and his partnershis friends Cary Woods (a movie producer) and Chris Glowacki (a former NBC executive)have already brought the network to Martha’s Vineyard, the Hamptons, Aspen, Telluride, and Vail, with Sun Valley and Miami Beach in the works. And it’s attracting the sort of A-list advertisers, like Volkswagen and American Express, that typically turn their noses up at local cabledespite Scott’s insistence on keeping campaigns regional. “People don’t hand us their commercials,” he says. “We produce things for them. I don’t want to see an ad about a car driving down some road in Kansas. I want to see that car in Nantucket.”