With ten shows set to air this fall, producer Jerry Bruckheimer is morphing into a TV czar.
By Grainger David

(FORTUNE Magazine) – As of this fall, Jerry Bruckheimer will be the new King of Television. His eponymous production company had a whopping four pilots picked up at the May "upfronts" in New York. That means Bruckheimer--who already has Cold Case, Without a Trace, The Amazing Race, and three CSI's--will be behind ten network shows next season. (For the record, the new shows are The E-Ring on NBC, Close to Home on CBS, and Just Legal and Modern Men on The WB.) FORTUNE's Grainger David caught up with the über-producer on the set of the Pirates of the Caribbean sequel to talk about balancing movies and TV, why he likes videogames, and what it's like to be a Republican in Hollywood.

You just had four new shows picked up. How many did you pitch?

This year we developed five shows and got four on the air. But I'm still hopeful for the fifth one. I still think we can persuade them to put it on midseason.

The four bring you to a total of ten shows for next season. Plus your movies. How do you manage it all?

Great show runners who really executive-produce their shows can make your life easy. That's been our formula since we started with CSI six years ago. The film and television divisions are separate, but we collaborate. Last week I was in New York working on television, and this week, as I'm talking to you, I'm in Dominica in the Caribbean, where we're shooting the second Pirates of the Caribbean film.

And how is Dominica?

It's brutal. It's really hot here, and where we are is very rugged, not at all luxurious. It's 100 degrees and 90% humidity, and everyone is dripping in sweat.

Are you moving more toward the TV side of the business?

What we do has been labeled by other people as "feature television." If you look at the directors we use just on these pilots, three of the four are major film directors. Taylor Hackford, who recently did Ray, is directing The E-Ring. We just had Quentin Tarantino direct an episode of CSI. The episode started with 25 million viewers, and by the time it ended there were 35 million people watching, because of the engaging way he filmed things and told the story.

You've expressed interest in expanding into videogames. What attracts you to that business?

A lot of the stuff we've done in movies is stolen from videogames--the angles we use, the kind of characters. It's an extension of what we do when we make movies like Black Hawk Down and Top Gun. If the right project or videogame comes along and we feel we can input some of the story and character and action stuff that we know how to do, we'll get involved creatively. It's a phenomenal business.

What do you think of reality TV?

We do The Amazing Race, which just broke the top 20. Anything you put on that's fresh and different and dramatic and unique, people are going to watch. With TV, kids are so used to working on their computers and switching from one website to another that their attention span, like mine, is very short.

You made your reputation with R-rated shoot-'em-ups like Armageddon. But your last two big hits, Pirates and National Treasure, were rated PG-13 and PG. Are you getting soft?

We just make movies we want to see. But the market might also be changing. I pushed Disney to make National Treasure a PG film. I thought the idea would be better served as a family film. And Pirates was designed to be that, because it was a ride first. With Johnny Depp in it, I wanted it to be edgier, and the studio just wanted to make sure it wasn't R. You didn't want to make it for kids, you wanted to make it for everybody.

You voted for President Bush. Any tricks to surviving as a Republican in Hollywood?

I don't know. I think the way you view politics is to the sideline. It's all about the work you do. If the work is successful, then, you know, none of it matters.

You're known as the Man With the Golden Gut. What entertainment trends are going to be big this year?

I wish I knew. I'd be on a nicer island.