Here's one of those Friday Questions worth an entire post. As always, if I can't find an appropriate picture I put up one of Natalie Wood.
Ken, I'd be interested to know what the difference is between the different writing credits you see on a show; you have your staff writers, story editors, creative consultants (which I think you described once in a post as authorities doing basically nothing) etc etc , could they all be that useful?
Here's the short answer: they're all bullshit. At least in half-hour comedy. There's actually only one meaningful title and that is "Show runner" and it's also the only title you’ll never see.
Originally if you created and ran a show you got a coveted Producer credit. Everybody else had to settle for Story Editor or (for the newbies) Staff Writer.
Only producers were entitled to Emmys if their show won Best Comedy. And along with the prestige (chicks dig dem producers), the titles helped establish pay grades.
So everyone wanted in on that action. (And by everyone I mean ME.)
The show runners were promoted to the made-up title of Executive Producer and Story Editors became Producers.
Then writing staffs grew. More bogus titles were needed. That led to Co-Executive Producer, Supervising Producer, Co-Producer, Executive Story Editor, Executive Script Consultant.
And then there were the punch-up guys, writers who helped out once or twice a week, usually on re-write nights. The spiffy title of Creative Consultant was dreamed up for them. But even they started getting into the act. There are now Consulting Producers. Soon there will be Consulting Executive Producers, Consulting Supervising Producers, Consulting Co-Supervising Co-Executive Story Producers.
And now you also have the non-writing producers and managers who take ersatz producer credits.
In general, the Executive Producer is the show runner and his second in command is the Co-Executive Producer. Everyone else is just on staff. They do the same job they did when they were Script Captains or Executive Story Wage Slaves.
The only exception to this producer alphabet soup is the “Produced by” credit. That always goes to the person who is in charge of the production, hiring crews, supervising post production, and overseeing budgets. In other words, unlike everyone else who has the credit, this person actually PRODUCES the show.