TV's most influential writer-producers come clean about the credits they'd like scrubbed from their résumés, their most absurd notes from execs, their television mentors and the ways they cure writer's block.
Murphy Brown's Diane English. M*A*S*H's Larry Gelbart. The Dick Van Dyke Show's Carl Reiner. Cheers' Glen and Les Charles. All in the Family's Normal Lear. Had THR's annual celebration of television's most powerful creative minds been around during their heyday, these classic giants of the business no doubt would have topped the list. Like the 50 groups featured on the following 10 pages, their mentors and icons challenged the norms and mores of their time while perpetuating the unwavering belief that TV is more than an American pasttime -- it's the lens through which we interpret our culture and ourselves.
Writing and producing comedies and dramas also happens to be one of the nuttiest professions in showbiz, as evidenced by the very honest and often hilarious responses THR's editors and reporters gathered from the men and women who most impacted the medium this year.
From their obsessive rituals (Peppermint Patties! Oatmeal! Bruce Springsteen!) to the parts of their jobs they hate most (picking where to eat lunch, answering e-mail) to the industry figures they most idolize (see the list above, and then some), these showrunners share and embody the quirky candor and humility necessary to churn out the most entertaining, groundbreaking and so-good-we-actually-watch-it-live television.
METHODOLOGY: Selections for The Hollywood Reporter's fifth annual list of the top showrunners are based on the following criteria:
1. Direct responsibility for the day-to-day creative output of a scripted TV show that has aired for at least one full season (unless he or she also had another show on the air).
2. How prolific the showrunner is: Those with more shows on the air were more likely to be included.
3. Nielsen ratings, especially relative to other shows on the same network.
4. Emmy attention and critical praise.
5. Professionalism and reputation among studio and network executives.
Edited by Stacey Wilson; Profiles written by Tim Appelo, Lesley Goldberg, Marisa Guthrie, Philiana Ng, Michael O'Connell and Lacey Rose