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Super-producers

Super-producers — Joshua Brand and John Falsey juggle ”I’ll Fly Away,” ”Northern Exposure,” and ”Going to Extremes”

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How do executive producers Joshua Brand and John Falsey find time to oversee three series (I’ll Fly Away, Northern Exposure, and Going to Extremes) on three networks (NBC, CBS, and ABC) shot in three far-flung locales (Atlanta, Roslyn, Wash., and Jamaica)? ”Divide and conquer,” says Falsey, who handles Fly but leaves Exposure in Brand’s hands. The two take turns on Extremes.

”We don’t spend as much time traveling as people think we do,” Brand, 41, asserts from his Santa Monica, Calif., office. ”Although I suppose if you asked our families, we travel more than we think we do.” Jokes Falsey, 40, ”Of course, if the World Series is in Atlanta, we will have to make a trip to see how I’ll Fly Away‘s going.”

The hectic work schedule isn’t the only downside to producing more than one acclaimed series. On Emmy night, the more popular Exposure beat out Fly for Best Drama. ”I’ll Fly Away certainly could have used it more because of the ratings,” Falsey says, ”but I was just pleased one of them picked it up.”

Early ratings for the Caribbean med-school comedy-drama Extremes indicate another hit, but it hasn’t garnered the sparkling reviews usually showered on the duo’s shows. Some have called it a rip-off of Exposure. ”It has certain similarities in terms of a first-world sensibility in a third-world culture, but for us it’s really much closer to St. Elsewhere,” says Brand, referring to the gritty hospital series he and Falsey cocreated in 1982.

Brand and Falsey may be among TV’s hottest producers now, but the road to the top hasn’t been bump-free. Transplanted Easterners, they met in 1978 as story editors on The White Shadow and went on to create Elsewhere but departed the series bitterly after its first season. Then in 1988, their much-praised family drama, A Year in the Life, was unexpectedly axed after a single season.

Exposure turned their luck around, premiering as a summer series in 1990 and blossoming into a top 10 hit. Now Brand and Falsey have a deal with Lorimar that includes possible sitcoms and films. But they’re still worried — about NBC’s lean 13-episode order for Fly and also about CBS’ rare 50-episode commitment to Exposure.

”There’s a danger of complacency,” Brand says of the two-season Exposure guarantee. ”There are two tragedies in life: getting what you want and not getting what you want.” For now, Brand and Falsey are getting exactly what they want — and it’s no tragedy.