Slinkies to Thighmasters: Hollywood's Most Powerful People Reveal the Most Surprising Object on Their Desk

Getty Images
From left: Diane Nelson, David Nevins and Kevin Hart

From Magic 8 Balls ("It's at least 50 percent right!") to Silly Putty ("the best stress/creativity tool ever created"), an unlikely variety of gadgets, toys and more can be found in the offices of entertainment's top execs, creators and stars.

You can discover a lot about a person just by looking at their desk. Are they messy or organized? A pragmatist or a visionary? Or are they really just a kid at heart?

As part of the Hollywood Reporter’s second annual ranking of the most powerful people in entertainment, THR asked those on the list what object on their desk people would be most surprised to see there.

Although there were the more practical responses — paperweights, staplers, phones — some of the top creatives and execs opened up about unique items, such as “a script that F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote three weeks before he died,” which sits on the desk of Sony Pictures Entertainment's Tom Rothman (No. 26 on the THR 100).

Walt Disney/Pixar Animation Studios' John Lasseter (No. 17) claims “no one can see my desk because of all the toys that are on it.” And he's not the only one who confessed to a playful set-up: Showtime's David Nevins (No. 36) cops to "multiple yo-yos," CBS' Thom Sherman (No. 71) says he has a Slinky, DC Entertainment's Diane Nelson and Geoff Johnson (No. 64) both consult Magic 8 Balls, and Zack Van Amburg (No. 69 — currently at Sony TV but soon moving on to Apple TV) keeps Silly Putty on his desk: "the best stress/creativity tool ever invented," he says.

Kevin Hart cops to having a Thighmaster that he was given as a gift, but "I never use it," he insists. "It just sits on my desk."

And some of the most powerful people in Hollywood keep their desk object-free. ESPN/Disney Media Networks' John Skipper and Fox TV Group's Dana Walden both say they have "nothing" on their desk. Says Walden, "I hate clutter."

Read on to find out what other surprising items decorate the desks of the industry's biggest names.

Leslie Moonves, president/CEO, CBS Corp (No. 4)
"A feng Sshui dragon."

James Murdoch, CEO, 21st Century Fox (No. 5)
"My Saad Mohseni bobblehead and a cricket ball."

Lachlan Murdoch, executive chariman, 21st Century Fox (No. 5)
"An issue of Rock and Ice magazine."

Bob Bakish, president/CEO, Viacom (No. 6)
"A white marble elephant, which is the Indian symbol of wisdom."

Alan Horn, chairman, Walt Disney Studios (No. 8)
"I have a Morgan Freeman clock where his hands are pointing to the hour and his feet are pointing to the minutes. Someone gave it to me a year ago. It's pretty funny."

Peter Rice, chairman/CEO, Fox Networks Group (No. 10)
"A picture of Malcolm Allison." [Allison, a legendary British football player and manager, died in 2010.]

Donna Langley, chairman, Universal Pictures (No. 11)
"Princess Catherine doll."

Emma Watts, vice chairman, 21st Century Fox Film (No. 12)
"A mug from Baltimore that says 'hon' on it."

Dana Walden, co-CEO/chairman, Fox TV Group (No. 16)
"Nothing. People are surprised at how little is on my desk. I hate clutter."

John Lasseter, chief creative officer, Walt Disney and Pixar (No. 17)
"No one can see my desk because of all the toys that are on it."

Bonnie Hammer, chairman, NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment (No. 21)
"An old-school week-at-a-glance calendar...with entries made in pencil so they can be erased! I think of it as an analog backup to my digital schedule."

Ben Sherwood, co-chairman, Disney Media Networks and president, Disney/ABC TV Group (No. 22)
"A silver necklace and medal depicting Saint Jude, the patron saint of hope in impossible situations, which was worn by Ray Liotta, who played a fireman in the film adaptation of one of my novels, Charlie St. Cloud."

Richard Plepler, CEO, HBO (No. 23)
"A pile and folder of weathered op-eds and essays, which I've saved over the years."

Tom Rothman, chairman, Motion Picture Group, Sony Pictures Entertainment (No. 26)
"A script that F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote three weeks before he died."

Robert Greenblatt, chairman, NBC Entertainment (No. 27)
"A jar of Maine blueberries from Lorne Michaels' blueberry farm."

Jennifer Salke, president, NBC Entertainment (No. 27)
"I like my little '60s VW Van from Aquarius." [Aquarius was a two-season NBC drama starring David Duchovny.]

Paul Telegdy, president, alternative & reality, NBC Entertainment (No. 27)
"A pacifier — I just dropped my daughter off at childcare."

Ryan Murphy, writer/executive producer (No. 28)
"I have a lamp that was given to me that was one of Jack Warner's lamps. It's one of the ugliest lamps I've ever seen and I love it."

Chris Meledandri, CEO, Illumination Entertainment (No. 29)
"A family photo with my ex-wife in it."

David Nevins, CEO, Showtime Networks (No. 32)
"Multiple yo-yo's."

Jeremy Zimmer, CEO, United Talent Agency (No. 34)
"A turntable."

David Kramer, managing director, United Talent Agency (No. 34)
"I have a coffee mug on my desk (a gift from a fellow agent) that says, 'Your enthusiasm is scaring everyone.' I don't get it, but everyone else seems to."

Jay Sures, managing director, United Talent Agency (No. 34)
"A paper printout with all my clients' direct dials."

Josh Sapan, president/CEO, AMC Networks (No. 42)
"An Amazon Echo and a Google Home."

Dick Wolf, executive producer (No. 47)
"A plaque (which I gave to network heads) that says, 'It's the Writing, Stupid'"

John Skipper, president, ESPN, and co-chairman, Disney Media Networks (No. 49)
"People are always surprised to see I have nothing on my desk."

David Zaslav, president/CEO, Discovery Communications (No. 50)
"It's under my desk...a treadmill."

Gary Barber, chairman/CEO, MGM (No. 55) "Invictus paperweight: 'I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul.'"

Channing Dungey, president, ABC Entertainment (No. 56)
"A little clay turtle that I use as a paperweight for buck slips and notes. It is a souvenir from my honeymoon at Las Ventanas in Los Cabos."

Mike Hopkins, CEO, Hulu (No. 57)
"A rainbow-colored hacky sack."

Simon Kinberg, writer/producer (No. 59)
"A phone. [Surprising because] I almost never use it."

Mark Pedowitz, president, The CW (No. 60)
"[A surprising quantity of] pictures I have of my wife Carolyn and my casset hounds and bloodhounds."

Diane Nelson, president, DC Entertainment (No. 64)
"A Batman head Magic 8 Ball, given to me by a friend."

Jon Berg, co-president, production and development, Warner Bros. Pictures (No. 64)
"Lots. Pellet guns, football, throwing star, pocket knife, leather sap, lots of paperwork."

Geoff Johns, president/chief creative officer, DC Entertainment (No. 64)
"A Magic 8 Ball. It's at least 50 percent right!"

Adam Fogelson, chairman, STX Motion Picture Group (No. 66)
"An invitation to the Furious 7 Premiere."

Tyler Perry, actor/producer and CEO, Tyler Perry Studios (No. 67)
"Children's books. I read to my son on lunch break."

Zack Van Amburg, president, U.S. Programming and Production, Sony Pictures TV (No. 69)
"Silly Putty. The best stress/creativity tool ever invented."

Kelly Kahl, entertainment president, CBS (No. 71)
"Little replica chairs from the University of Wisconsin union terrace. Actually that wouldn't surprise anyone."

Thom Sherman, senior executive vp programming, CBS (No. 71)
"A Slinky ('For stress it's a wonderful toy!')"

Frank Marshall, producer (No. 79)
"A goTenna."

Kevin Hart, actor/comedian (No. 80)
"A Thighmaster. it was a gift — I never use it. It just sits on my desk."

Jeff Skoll, founder/chairman, Participant Media (No. 83)
"No computer. I work entirely from mobile devices."

David Linde, CEO, Participant Media (No. 83)
"University of Oregon Ducks Nerf football."

Dan Fogelman, writer/producer (No. 88)
"I have a photo of my wife's vicious poodle named Wesley who bites men and draws blood and we have to put him in a Hannibal Lecter mask when we have guests over. I make quite a show of hating that dog, so I guess it would surprise people."

Patty Jenkins, director (No. 94)
"An Avid. I don't edit my films myself, but I need access to all takes, music and ways of doing things at all times. It's the writer in me who wants access to fiddle and learn.

Brian Grazer, partner, Imagine Entertainment (No. 95)
"A framed photograph of astronaut Jim Lovell from Apollo 13."

Neal Moritz, producer (No. 96)
"The Highlander sword signed by Christopher Lambert."

Barry Jenkins, writer/director (No. 97)
"Stapler. I have an iPad Pro but I print most things. Staples are key."

David Ellison, founder/CEO, Skydance (No. 99)
"People are surprised that my desk is actually the wing of a plane." 

comments powered by Disqus