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Top 50 Power Showrunners 2011

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    Drama
    Brenda Hampton
    Brenda Hampton
    The Secret Life of the American Teenager (ABC Family)

    What's tougher than crafting the perfect script? Writing annual reports. "Because you can't make those up," says Hampton, whose earlier life was in the corporate world. Before creating the family drama 7th Heaven, which ran for 11 seasons, the University of Georgia graduate hopped around as a writer, with stints churning out tech copy for the U.S. Navy, scripting jokes for comedians including Roseanne Barr and acting as a corporate communications manager for NBC in New York. Her first TV writing job came on the 1989 comedy Sister Kate. Now three seasons into ABC Family's flagship series, Hampton, 60, has become the unofficial voice for the teenage set, but knows all too the demo's perils. "Teens are fickle, so you have to go for a broader audience," she says. Even with ratings down a bit this year, Secret Life has two things going for it that many shows don't: loyalty and efficiency. Days rarely go beyond the 12-hour mark "because the same people have been working together for so long," says Hampton. "They're the fastest crew in Hollywood."

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