10 Power Showrunners: A Day in the Life, From Carlton Cuse to Jenji Kohan
A voyeur's look through the bleary eyes of TV's busiest movers and shakers -- Ann Biderman, Jason Katims, Hart Hanson and Stephen Nathan, Scott M. Gimple, Armando Iannucci, Greg Berlanti, Kerry Ehrin, Jeff and Jackie Schaffer and Terence Winter.
Katims is running a bit behind. It's already 10:15 a.m. as he weaves his way through a series of hallways lined with reminders of his work, be it a Welcome to Dillon placard from Friday Night Lights or a shot of Parenthood's Sarah (Lauren Graham) and Amber (Mae Whitman), joining the About a Boy writers meeting in progress. The new midseason dramedy's room opened a week earlier, and Katims takes a seat among his nine writers and two writers assistants. First up: determining the direction that the Minnie Driver-David Walton vehicle should go.
"What I really want to do at this stage is to create an environment where everyone feels free to bring themselves to it," he says, noting the value of being able to infuse his series with relatable stories that often come from the real-life experiences of those in his writers room. Katims, 52, excuses himself at 11:30 a.m. to tend to his other show, Parenthood, which recently launched its fifth season. He scurries across the West L.A. complex to check in on the latter's edits, a process he jokes he rarely gets through without a few tears -- a trademark reaction to his shows. Fortunately, the married father of two has had experience with the dizzying -- or "daunting," as he describes it -- act of running two shows (the final two seasons of FNL overlapped with the first season of Parenthood).
"When I was young, I wanted to be a short-order cook," he says, seated now in his office where a sign with the FNL rallying cry, "Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can't Lose," hangs above. "I remember growing up in Brooklyn, and as a teenager I'd watch them at the grill with 10 things going at once, and somehow they all magically came out at the same time. After I became a showrunner, my wife looked at me and said, 'You got your dream.' " -- LACEY ROSE