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Top 50 Power Showrunners 2011

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    Michelle King & Robert King
    Michelle King and Robert King
    The Good Wife (CBS)

    When Julianna Margulies won the lead drama actress Emmy last month, the award didn't just acknowledge the veteran actress' nailing of the complicated wife-mother-lawyer-lover character Alicia Florrick. It also was a signal to the drama's creators, Robert and Michelle King, that their show had achieved the kind of prestige for CBS more recently relegated to cable actresses like Kyra Sedgwick and Glenn Close. Robert goes one further: "It feels now like we've cheated death," he says. "We were supposed to do 13 episodes and sink into oblivion. Now we're on the 55th." Good Wife marks the couple's (the California natives met while working at the same shoe store) first stint overseeing a staff after years of so-so success in features -- you can thank Robert for penning 1995's much-razzed flick Cutthroat Island -- and off-and-on TV collaborations including their first short-lived stab at a legal drama, ABC's In Justice, starring Kyle MacLachlan. With all the ups and downs, it makes sense that their work philosophy centers on one theme. "Treat every episode as if it were your last," says Michelle, 49. "It's the only way the viewer won't get bored." Fans of Good Wife clearly aren't: Season three is averaging 11 million viewers for the network. So it makes sense that Robert, 51, is still basking in the glow of Margulies' Emmy triumph. "It was an indescribable happiness," he says. "She's responsible for so much of the show's success. It was like seeing a family member win."

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