The Sincerity of Reality TV with Producer Nathan Palmer


There are two kinds of people in the world; those who seek the path of least resistance and those like Nathan Palmer who thrive upon a challenge. Like a professional athlete or an entrepreneur, Palmer views the gains of manifesting greatness and the “sweat equity” it demands as a thrill; it’s not likely what you’d imagine the definition of a producer on a television series to be but those whom have worked with Nathan will declare it most apt in regards to him. From his work on multiple versions of the Real Housewives TV franchise to multiple Primetime Emmy Award Winning American Idol and numerous others, Nathan has established that he knows how to discover, recognize, and communicate the kinds of stories that inspire and connect us all. Whether it’s astonishing talent or the universal search for love, capturing and relating the story in a transfixing manner is what keeps viewers riveted and television programs in production; Nathan Palmer is exceedingly gifted in empowering this.

Palmer taking a quiet moment

  Nathan’s work on UK productions such as X Factor and The Voice led American Idol showrunner Megan Michaels (nominated for 7 Primetime Emmys) to offer him a producer role on AI. Specifically, Palmer was brought aboard to organize the bus tours across the US which saw thousands of hopeful auditions. The bible he created for other AI producers established the tone for this process and the foundation of each new season of the show. Discerning who not only possessed talent but also an intriguing story is an essential factor of the success of American Idol. Nathan confirms, “We stopped at cities along the way and would spend days sitting at a desk as hundreds of singers queued to see me and sing for me. I would always be looking for someone who could sing, but more than that as well. There are many signing/talent shows now, and they have been going for twenty years. Many of these people have auditioned for many other shows so it was important to look for more than a voice. I would see hundreds of people in one day back to back, over the course of almost three weeks; I knew straight away if someone stood out. It’s hard to explain but you just know.”

Palmer (R) on a shoot

  Perceiving the intricacies of motivation and emotion is a natural inclination for Nathan. The label “storyteller” can apply to many professionals in the world of television but a producer must conceptualize what the story is and how to present it in its ideal form. Nathan exhibits this skill no matter what the subject matter is. His work on Bravo’s Summer House and Winter House presents numerous scenarios proving this. As Co-executive producer of Winter House, Palmer was in charge of leading three field producers, three story AP’s, and two segment producers but he professes that the core of his work is understanding the cast. Whether it’s a multiple series production like these or the upcoming Love Without Borders (also on Bravo), the balancing of production maintenance needs with story elements is a constant for any producer. Nathan professes that he is as excited as viewers, if not more so by the process stating, “There are constantly things like scheduling and location decisions on my plate but it’s always about the people. You can take certain templates from various shows you have worked on and apply parts but each show will always have something new to make it unique. Seeing the stories that I decided to follow develop over the course of the season is very rewarding. Making a show where you watch people have fun and enjoy themselves is a big reward; when we are watching in the gallery, if we are laughing, then I know the viewer at home is going to be laughing when they watch the edited version, which means I have done my job well.”

Writer: Arlen Gann

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