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Showrunners 2012: 'Boardwalk Empire's' Terence Winter

"Nucky killing Jimmy Darmody was extremely difficult to write, because even though I knew it had to happen, I didn't really want it to," he says.

From their obsessive rituals (Peppermint Patties! Oatmeal! Bruce Springsteen!) to the parts of their jobs they hate most (killing characters off, dealing with agents), TV's most influential writer-producers featured on The Hollywood Reporter's annual list of the Top 50 Showrunners come clean about the people, things and quirky habits that keep them -- and their shows -- alive. 

PHOTOS: Broadcast TV's Returning Shows for 2012-13 Season

TERENCE WINTER, 52, Boardwalk Empire (HBO), creator/EP/showrunner  (3 years)

The TV show that inspired me to write:
Winter: The Honeymooners.

My big break:
Winter: The Great Defender, which ran briefly on Fox in 1995. 

 My TV mentor:
Winter: I have several. George Schenck, Frank Cardea on The Great Defender and The Cosby MysteriesFrank Renzulli on The Cosby Mysteries. And Renzulli and David Chase on The Sopranos.

My proudest accomplishment this year:
Winter:
 That Boardwalk Empire was once again nominated for Best Drama Series.    
 
My toughest scene to write this year:
Winter:
 Nucky killing Jimmy Darmody was extremely difficult to write, because even though I knew it had to happen, I didn't really want it to. 

PHOTOS: Broadcast TV's Returning Shows for 2012-13 Season

 The most absurd note I’ve ever gotten:
Winter:
 When he tells her "I'd like to visit Uranus," is that a joke, or does he really want to go there? It was on an un-produced pilot I worked on that shall remain nameless.
 
The one aspect of my job as showrunner that I’d rather delegate:
Winter:
 Telling actors that their characters are going to get killed off. 
 
My preferred method for breaking through writers’ block:
Winter:
 I lie to everyone about how much progress I'm making on a script, and then let the waves of guilt and panic spur me on.  

If I could add any one writer to my staff, it would be:
Winter:
 Paddy Chayefsky. Is he available? 
 
The show I’m embarrassed to admit I watch:
Winter: I'll watch anything without shame.   
 
The three things I need in order to write:
Winter:
 A good night's sleep, a big chunk of time and a really serious deadline.  
 
If you could scrub one credit from your resume, what would it be?
Winter:
 Get Rich or Die Tryin', a film that bears absolutely no resemblance to the script I wrote.