Top 50 Power Showrunners 2011
"I loved watching Dick Van Dyke play a TV writer who was so funny and charming -- and he got to go home to Mary Tyler Moore," Zuckerman recalls of his fictional inspiration for his real-life comedy-writer aspirations. The showrunner was brought in to help "nurture and develop" Seth MacFarlane's ideas, characters and voice for Family Guy. Years later, he was asked to repeat the magic with Jason Gann's short film-turned-Australian TV series for its stateside remake about an uneven fellow (Elijah Wood) who sees his neighbor's canine as a foul-mouthed, pot-smoking guy in a furry dog costume. "Both have really unique comedic voices," says Zuckerman of MacFarlane and Gann. With credits including The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and American Dad!, the onetime Lorimar and NBC exec still credits The Dick Van Dyke Show creator Carl Reiner for teaching him that comedy could be funny and entertaining while still being "about something." The same could be said for Wilfred, which was renewed after it became the network's highest-rated rookie comedy series.