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THR's Top 50 Showrunners 2012

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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. 
 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

  1. Salim and Mara Brock Akil

    The Game (BET)read more

  2. Blake Anderson, Adam Devine, Anders Holm, Kyle Newachek and Kevin Etten

    Workaholics (Comedy Central)read more

  3. Carter Bays and Craig Thomas

    How I Met Your Mother (CBS)read more

  4. David Caspe, Jonathan Groff and Josh Bycel

    Happy Endings (ABC)read more

  5. Louis C.K.

    Louie (FX)read more

  6. David Crane and Jeffrey Klarik

    Episodes (Showtime)read more

  7. Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner

    Girls (HBO)read more

  8. Greg Garcia

    Raising Hope (Fox)read more

  9. Bruce Helford

    Anger Management (FX)read more

  10. Armando Ianucci

    Veep (HBO)read more

  11. Lauren Iungerich

    Awkward (MTV)read more

  12. Al Jean

    The Simpsons (Fox)read more

  13. Emily Kapnek

    Suburgatory (ABC)read more

  14. Michael Patrick King

    2 Broke Girls (CBS)read more

  15. Team Chuck Lorre

    Don Reo and Jim Patterson (Two and a Half Men, CBS); Bill Prady (The ...read more

  16. Steve Levitan and Christopher Lloyd

    Modern Family (ABC)read more

  17. Team Seth MacFarlane

    Steve Callahan and Mark Hentemann (Family Guy, Fox); Mike Barker and ...read more

  18. Liz Meriwether, Brett Baer and David Finkel

    New Girl (Fox)read more

  19. Mike Schur

    Parks and Recreation (NBC)read more

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