‘House’ Director Greg Yaitanes: Television Must Embrace Silicon Valley

'House' Director Greg Yaitanes: Television Must Embrace Silicon Valley

The director says he left "House" because he felt his push for a stronger social presence was stymied

Emmy-Award winning director Greg Yaitanes decried Hollywood’s approach to Silicon Valley in a keynote speech for the Social TV Summit at the Bel-Air Country Club on Wednesday.

Yaitanes, who was one of the main directors on “House” and a director for Cinemax’s upcoming “Banshee,” told the audience of executives and reporters that anti-piracy bill SOPA fostered antagonism where progress was being made.

“We should be working hand-in-hand with Google, Facebook and Twitter,” Yaitanes said. Rather than thinking of Hollywood and Silicon Valley as two separate businesses, Hollywood should recognize "we are in the same business."

Having spoken with the various powers up north, from YouTube to Twitter, Yaitanes has stressed that the process of a new show is similar to that of a start-up in its evolution. Of the two, it is television that has room to improve.

"What TV could learn is the streamlining of trusting the people you hired," Yaitanes said. "On the broadcast side, there is a feeling of a growing group of redundancy — studios owning networks, networks owning studios."

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Yaitanes is not impartial. He was an early investor in companies like Twitter and Foursquare, but his job remains in television.

Echoing progressive marketers in the film business, he argued that Hollywood must embrace social media as a way of better engaging viewers.

One way of doing that is to mandate actors and producers of a show to engage on social networks like Twitter.

“The show is just one part,” Yaitanes said. “Any additional content and interaction socially are now required of you.”

That is one reason he left “House” in the middle of its final season to work on “Banshee” — Yaitanes felt limited in his ability to push a network show nearing its conclusion to rethink its social approach.

“I was fighting the fight alone and not having people as game for what it wanted to do, where I wanted to push to,” Yaitanes said. “Hugh [Laurie] was in every scene, and I couldn’t tax him anymore.”

That said, he did feel “House” helped pioneer show-related apps. He referenced a "House" app he was involved with, a content-based app that offered fans of the show more information about the characters and plot.

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“No one was making such a content-heavy app for a show,” Yaitanes said.

Just because the successful director recognizes the need to adapt to a social-media-obsessed world, he still has a vested interest in keeping live viewers tuned in. Given the appeal of TiVo and the Apple TV, shows must reinforce the idea of “must-watch TV.”

For “Banshee,” a drama that “True Blood” creator Alan Ball is producing, they have created a 75-second title sequence intended to keep viewers glued to the screen.

“We’re making the title sequence be ‘you fast forward if you dare,’” Yaitanes said. "The title sequence will take people into a deeper world."