The creative television team of Gretchen Berg and Aaron Harberts has been heavily involved in the production behind some of television’s most memorable dramas, such as Beverly Hills, 90210 (1990), Pushing Daisies (2007) and Revenge (2011). However, their very first project is unknown to many due to the closure of the network which featured it.
Despite Berg and Harberts previous work on television, Pepper Dennis, a comedy-drama that aired on The WB from April 4 to July 6, 2006, was the first show they created and ran entirely. This series paved the way for their future success as creative masterminds and experienced television executive producers and writers.
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Before Pepper Dennis
Berg and Harberts first met during their enrollment at Northwestern University, where both were students learning and developing their future film and television careers. Gretchen Berg, who hailed from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was in her junior year and closer to finishing her education, while Aaron Harberts was just starting out as a freshman. The duo met during a course called Creative Writing for the Media, which helped in amplifying their writing talent for television.
In 1992, Gretchen Berg was directing a student film, with Aaron Harberts was working as a production assistant. Berg and Harberts worked with each other well enough and shared mutual friends, but their friendship did not develop at this time. Berg moved to Los Angeles in 1993 to continue her career, with Harberts joining her after his graduation two years later. Berg was struggling to come up with comedy for one of her spec scripts, and Harberts offered to help her out. Even though the project didn’t work out, Berg and Harberts worked hard on other scripts and projects until an agent signed them on.
Berg and Harberts worked on a variety of hit shows, such as Beverly Hills, 90210, Roswell, and Wonderfalls, they did not create their first show until Pepper Dennis.
Berg and Harberts First Television Series
After their roles as writers and co-executive producers on several other shows, the chance arose for them to create and run their show. Pepper Dennis was their creation, a comedy-drama produced by 20th Century Fox and first aired by The WB on April 4th, 2006. The series starred Rebecca Romijn of X-Men fame, Josh Hopkins, Brooke Burns, and Lindsay Price.
Pepper Dennis tells the story of the titular character (Romijn), a Chicago news reporter who aims to become a famous, respectable journalist. She must deal with comic misfortunes, as well as her bratty, spoiled sister, Kathy (Burns), who has recently moved in with her. Pepper’s ambitious plans become complicated when a man she had a one-night stand with reemerges in her life as new anchor and boss, Charlie Babcock (Hopkins). She tries to get ahead with her career with the support of her makeup artist, Kimmy Kim (Price), all while dealing with her sister and her conflicting feelings for Charlie.
Airtime on The WB
Berg and Harberts first show is notable for numerous reasons. After its premiere, critics praised several aspects of it, such as Romijn’s performance and her character’s natural quick wit, much of the snappy humor, and Burns’s perkiness as Kathy. They particularly admired Pepper’s strong stand against her pig-headed, egocentric boss, Charlie.
The show went on to air for 13 episodes, from April until its final episode on July 4th, 2006. On May 17th, The WB, which was shutting down soon, announced that the series would not make the move to the new network known as The CW. Berg and Harberts show would not join other successful series such as Smallville.
The Creative Team Now
After the show’s ending, Berg and Harberts stayed active in other projects, including Women’s Murder Club, Revenge, Reign, and most recently, Star Trek: Discovery. The team continues to succeed with other projects and is always looking for new opportunities to tell their stories.