Top 50 Power Showrunners 2011
How many actor-showrunners are willing to gain 50 pounds, "just to be funny"? Well, at least one, as Sunny creator McElhenney showed Sept. 15 in the seventh-season premiere of FX's flagship comedy. The stunt paid off: It was Sunny's highest-rated season premiere to date. Although as "out there" as the series has been (sample scene: sewing an oiled-up, nude Danny DeVito into a sofa), the actor-writer-producer trio have a rather serious approach to bringing to life the adventures of their depraved characters. "We always strive to air out any problems before things escalate," says Howerton, 35, who appeared on ER and in films like Must Love Dogs before landing Sunny. (His wife, Jill, gave birth to their first child in September.) Day, who recently appeared in the bawdy summer comedy feature Horrible Bosses, says wearing the actor hat actually helps. "Things don't translate off the page the way you want them to," says Day, 35, who's expecting his first child with wife Mary Elizabeth in December. "So it's nice to be able to change things as you go." Philly native McElhenney, 34, who's married to co-star Kaitlin Olson (they kick-started the Sunny baby boom in fall 2010 with the birth of son Axel), agrees that a showrunner should be willing to break the mold. "I would love to live in a country where showrunners took big risks and broadened viewers' horizons," he says. "And America had a balanced budget."