10 Power Showrunners: A Day in the Life, From Carlton Cuse to Jenji Kohan
HART HANSON and STEPHEN NATHAN
Over late-morning coffee and biscuits (with pancakes and scrambled eggs on the way), Hanson (left) and Nathan are going over the latest Bones script at John O'Groats on Pico Boulevard, a few blocks west of the Fox lot where they've made the procedural for nearly a decade. Their giggling (or whatever you call the infectious laughter of two bubbly middle-aged men) likely would concern fellow diners if they saw what was on the pages before them: a gory description of a dead body, the latest of Bones' notoriously comical and gruesome opening sequences.
"We have 70 years of doing this between us," says Hanson, who admits that scheduling usually requires that their morning meetings take place at the studio. "There's an old-man shorthand for us. If we talk through things with the other writers around, it would take forever." Adds Nathan, "And when we meet in the office, 25 people will come in and interrupt us." Such is their friendship and the creative process that has kept the series on the air for 171 episodes. The two never sit down to write an episode together -- Nathan says his patience for that ended when he moved out of comedy -- but their collaborative process takes on a good cop/bad cop approach while they dissect the script, a process that exudes a true yin-and-yang approach.
Hanson's script is bound in leather and filled with detailed and pristine notes; Nathan's is bent and covered with indiscernible scrawling. "It's like an anger relay race -- we pass the baton," jokes Hanson of his partner, as Nathan heads out for a meeting with postproduction. "When one is being really negative, the other is always really optimistic and excited." -- MICHAEL O'CONNELL