Only the best writing and production teams have worked on as many hit television shows, cult classics, and well-loved programs as the esteemed duo of Berg and Harberts. Composed of college friends and colleagues Gretchen Berg and Aaron Harberts, these television minds have penned episodes of Beverly Hills, 90210 and Roswell, and served as executive producers for Mercy, Reign, and Off the Map.
From a chance meeting at Northwestern University to producing award-winning television shows such as Revenge and Pushing Daisies, this dynamic duo’s tenacity, talent, and wit has propelled them to the top of network television minds – and they aren’t going away anytime soon.
The Story of Gretchen Berg
Half of the Berg & Harberts duo, Gretchen J. Berg was born on February 8th, 1971 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. From an early age, Berg developed an interest in telling stories and creating new worlds. She reminisces on her childhood in Pittsburgh during a 2010 interview with hometown publication Pittsburgh Magazine, remembering the days where she would disappear into the woods with her friends for hours at a time. During these play sessions, they would wander into dreamy play sessions that would last until the sun went down – encouraging and inspiring her daydreams and storytelling to this day.
During high school, Berg was a loner. Her alma mater, North Allegheny High, placed a major emphasis on sports. However, despite a lack of school spirit, Berg found her calling in acting and drama classes. School required a lot of writing, allowing Berg to stretch her writing talent and develop key skills in writing structure, plot, and narrative. North Allegheny also had a TV studio – a privilege that Berg took full advantage of to create new ideas and see them come to life.
Wanting to pursue television and film, Berg searched for the perfect undergraduate program to fulfill her dreams. She decided against attending major media programs at New York University and the University of California at Los Angeles, where the film and TV programs focus solely on themselves and leave little room for a well-rounded education. Berg craved hands-on experience in film and television production, but also an opportunity to pursue a liberal arts education. This led her to Northwestern University, where Gretchen Berg would meet Aaron Harberts, her future writing and production partner.
Gretchen Berg lives in Los Angeles, California. She is season ticket holder for the Pittsburgh Steelers and her early influences include Remington Steele and The Monkees.
The Story of Aaron Harberts
Aaron Harberts was born on January 20th, 1973 to religious parents in rural Waterloo, Iowa. He grew up in Indiana and South Florida, spending much of his life navigating between the three states to spend time with his spread-out family. Aaron Harberts is an openly gay man and one of the first of such to work on many shows in the various leadership roles he has held. He is married and lives in Los Angeles, California.
Harbert’s father is a Presbyterian minister, so he spent much of his young life in church, listening to his father’s sermons. Harberts credits this time with inspiring his writing career. According to a 2000 interview in Crackdown, Harberts stated that during church, he would sit in the pews and daydream of fantastical stories to write. He wrote a few books during his early elementary years, with titles like “The Time Car,” about a detective who hunts down criminals in a flying car.
When Aaron Harberts graduated from high school in 1991, he attended Northwestern University to study film and television. Entering his freshman year while Berg was beginning her junior year, the dynamic duo met during a two-year program called Creative Writing for the Media.
Northwestern University and Happenstance
In 1992, Harberts was nearing the end of his first year at Northwestern University while Berg was gearing up for her last year. Berg was directing a student film at the time, which Harberts began working on as a P.A. They worked in a close capacity on these projects and through the Creative Writing for the Media course, which introduces students to the mechanics of creative writing for stage, film, and television. Although they worked together, they didn’t develop a close relationship until Harberts moved to Los Angeles in 1995.
Having graduated from Northwestern in 1993, Gretchen Berg had already moved from Chicago to California, trying to make her living in Los Angeles. When Harberts was trying to make the same cross-country move in 1995, his housing situation fell through. He moved into Berg’s place while she was trying to write a sitcom spec and struggling with revising her screenplays before presentation to studio executives. Berg recalled appreciating Harberts’ sense of humor during their Northwestern days, and asked him if he’d like to write a script with her as a team. He accepted, and Berg and Harberts was born.
Six months later, Berg recalls that they finished their first script, which she described as similar to the hit sitcom Friends, albeit a terrible version. They burned all the remaining copies of this script and from the ashes, Berg and Harberts have emerged as a multi-talented writing and production team for dozens of popular television programs.
From the Writer’s Room
In their early days roaming Los Angeles, Berg and Harberts attempted to break into the business by taking assistant jobs throughout Hollywood. They were young, broke, and determined; living off of taco trucks and other cheap meals to stretch their limited funds. They spent hours studying, criticizing, and analyzing films and television shows to determine best practices for plot construction, pacing, comedic timing, and other narrative aspects. Berg recalls that the team wrote almost constantly – everything from television dramas to sitcoms to made-for-TV movies.
All this hard work paid off. This practice helped Berg and Harberts sharpen their writing skills to a fine point and broadcast their names out into the world. By some sort of happenstance, an agent found a copy of one of their screenplays and passed it on to a television agent, who signed the duo in just a matter of weeks. This was the beginning of the big Hollywood break Berg and Harberts had been waiting for.
Berg and Harberts’ big break came when the hit television show Beverly Hills, 90210 hired them as staff writers. They penned their first episode in 1998. They are responsible for an iconic episode that re-introduced Luke Perry’s character, Dylan McKay, back into the world of elite Los Angeles teens on the show’s ninth season. Throughout the ninth and tenth seasons of 90210, Berg and Harberts worked on 32 episodes as writers and executive story editors. Following the conclusion of 90210, the cult TV show, Roswell, offered Berg and Harberts producer positions.
From the Production Floor
While on the staff of Roswell, Berg and Harberts served as producers for the show’s duration from 2000 to 2002. They served as producers and co-producers for 39 episodes and writers for 9 episodes. The show developed a cult following among science fiction fans despite its short run, and helped cement the team’s position in Hollywood’s writing and producing elite.
Following the end of Roswell, Berg and Harberts began work on the television show Wonderfalls as writers and producers. While working on this series, they met writer and producer Bryan Fuller, who would eventually hire the duo to work on his hit television program Pushing Daisies. Between Wonderfalls and Pushing Daisies, Berg and Harberts served as producers and writers for multiple series. They even wrote and created their own television show – 2006’s Pepper Dennis, which only ran for one season.
From 2008 to 2009, Berg and Harberts worked as writers and co-executive producers for the award-winning television show Pushing Daisies. From 2009 to 2010, the duo became showrunners and executive producers for the short-lived television show, Mercy. From 2013 to 2015, Berg and Harberts worked as executive producers for the hit show, Revenge, creating a masterful tale of conspiracies and family secrets that captivated the heart of millions of viewers around the globe. The team were the showrunners for Star Trek Discovery and it became a huge hit on CBS under their watch.
Berg and Harberts Today
As of 2018, Berg and Harberts have served on the writing team for 16 television shows, including titles such as Reign, GCB, Off the Map, and Women’s Murder Club. In addition, they have 14 producer credits to their names. They have served as showrunners for three television shows, signing deals with networks such as ABC and NBC. They have worked on medical dramas, comedies, science fiction series, and Los Angeles teen tales. Their wide range of credits highlights their ability to create compelling stories in multiple genres. Both Gretchen Berg and Aaron Harberts have IMDb profiles that feature all of their successes in Hollywood.
Suffice it to say, Berg and Harberts have come a long way from their Creative Writing in the Media course at Northwestern University. From Chicago to Los Angeles and their origins in Pennsylvania, Iowa, South Florida, and Indiana, Berg and Harberts are only just beginning their reign among the television elite. This multi-talented duo is fresh off their latest showrunner gig, and big projects are likely in the works.
We’re excited to see what Berg and Harberts’ futures hold. Based on this team’s history, long breaks aren’t part of their writing and production style. From 90210 to Roswell to Revenge and beyond, we will be seeing a lot of Berg and Harberts in the next few years. Keep an eye on their Twitter feeds – there’s no telling where these talented best friends will take their captivated audiences next.
Together their awards include: Peabody Award Nomination, Saturn Award, Logo’s NewNowNext Award, and a GLAAD Award Nomination.
Their most recent project is Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist. Read more about the show Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist and the writers Berg and Harberts here.