Canada’s Brandon Lankar talks producing ‘The Drew Barrymore Show’

Brandon Lankar began working in television at just thirteen years of age. He saw an ad for a student sports reporter at the local cable station in his hometown of Aurora, Ontario, Canada, and decided to apply despite knowing nothing about sports. When he got the job and began working, he discovered early in his life what his true calling was. It has now been over 15 years since that fateful event, and Lankar’s passion for television has developed into an extraordinary career. He is now far from that pre-teen boy in the small town, and is currently a big-time television producer in New York City, currently working on the massive daytime hit The Drew Barrymore Show.

“I’ve always been such a huge fan of Drew Barrymore. I can honestly say that I’ve watched the film Never Been Kissed at least twice a year since I was 8 years old. She’s relatable and has that x-factor that you see maybe 10 times in your lifetime and when I saw the opportunity to get to work with her, there was zero question, I went for it. In daytime television, you see so many people come and go, but with Drew, she’s the perfect combination of relatability and accessibility, even though she’s a full-blown movie star. I knew it would be such a rich and interesting experience to get to see how that comes through in a talk show setting where she’s connecting with new people every day,” said Lankar.

Lankar has ample experience working on talk shows after spending years producing the Canadian daytime television staple The Social, getting to work with mega celebrities, such as Kathy Griffin. When he was offered the chance to work on The Drew Barrymore Show, he knew he could bring all of that relevant experience and help make the show something spectacular. 

“I love that this show is a positive spin on daytime tv that’s executed in a way we haven’t seen before. There aren’t any gimmicks. It’s all about being kind to each other and leaning in on positivity. The show gives people an hour every day to forget about the stresses they’re dealing with at home or at work. It’s the perfect combination of comedy and honesty and I think it’s important, now more than ever, that we give people content to connect with that’s going to make them feel good about their day,” said Lankar.

Driven by humour and optimism, The Drew Barrymore Show showcases movie-star Drew Barrymore as she presents human interest stories and has heartfelt conversations with special guests. It premiered September 14, 2020, and has since been a massive success for the network. Not only does it get good ratings, it is a media sensation, with a skit reenacting the show on Saturday Night Live and frequent reports in major news outlets like New York Times, People Magazine and a weekly roundup of the show in Vulture. It also has a large following on YouTube and other social media, allowing the show to connect with a younger demographic that might not be tuning into linear television. In March of 2021, it was renewed for a second season. 

“Working on this project has allowed me to work with all different areas of CBS. I’ve gotten to work with our integrated marketing team and development team in Los Angeles, Drew and the other executive producers in New York, and everyone else in between. To be able to form such rich relationships with people from such important departments in a juggernaut network like CBS has been beyond my wildest dreams. We have a really kind team, too. Everyone here is warm and collaborative – not something you always find in the television world. But that comes from the top down. Drew brings passion and kindness everywhere she goes and she teaches everyone to lead with those same sentiments,” said Lankar.

Working as a producer on 136 episodes of The Drew Barrymore Show over the last year, Lankar oversees all of the brand integrations on the show and that’s incredibly important for the financial success of the show. He is required to find seamless ways to integrate brands into segments so they translate in an organic way. 

“Every brand is like a different relationship. It’s a collaboration where we work together to create something beautiful, and give birth to a segment,” he described. “Drew is also very passionate and particular about the brands she works with, as she should be, so she’s heavily involved with me to make sure the content we create for each brand aligns for everyone.”

To date, Lankar has produced segments with brands like Olay, Garnier, LG, Crest, Kellogg’s, Hallmark, Sam’s Club, Walmart, Etsy, and more. These brand partnerships are integral to the success of the show, and Lankar takes his job seriously while still having fun. The Drew Barrymore Show is one of his favorite projects he has ever been involved in, and he looks forward to continuing his work on the show for years to come.

“When you think about it, we launched this show in the middle of a global pandemic. That means the majority of this launch was accomplished with zoom meetings, no in-studio audience, and a full retooling of every kind of way I’ve been used to producing. It’s such a daunting task and I’m so proud to be a part of a team that persevered under an insane number of challenges, but also innovated the way television producing is accomplished. Ten years ago, most people would think this couldn’t be done. This show proved that it could,” he concluded.

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