Q What is the role of a producer, and why do a lot of television stars produce their own shows?
-J. Michel Duval, Kerrville, Texas
Most TV series have a hierarchy of individuals with the title of a producer-including "associate producer" and simply "producer"-but the big boss is the executive producer. A producer's responsibilities include making sure the director adheres to the shooting schedule, keeping the production on budget, approving-and even rewriting-scripts, and riding shotgun on dozens of other large and small details. Lead actors, for example William Petersen of CSI and Jimmy Smits of Cane, often want a slice of the producer pie because it gives them more direct input into the creative aspects of their series.