Bill Lawrence & Christa Miller (pictured)
Co-creator and actress, Cougar Town
"At work, Bill is this really dynamic, talented guy. Whatever he says, he has my rapt attention," Cougar Town star and music supervisor Miller says of her husband and longtime producer, Lawrence. "But at home," she continues about the father of their three children, "I've never met anyone as dumb as Bill. I'll come in, and it'll be really hot, and I'm like, 'Bill, why don't you have the air conditioner on?' Then I realize he doesn't know how to work the air conditioner." Lawrence, 44, seated beside her at their Brentwood home, cracks a guilty smile before throwing it right back at her. "I'm literally the only husband who, for a couple hours a week, gets to tell their wife what to say, what to wear and where to stand," he laughs, pulling Miller, 48, closer. "And I say that wholeheartedly admitting that I'm not in charge of my family or my home life. Not only am I not currently wearing an item of clothing that I picked out myself, but I don't have any clothes that I picked out myself."
It's no surprise that the type of playful banter honed over 13 years of marriage finds its way into many of Lawrence's scripts -- be it on Scrubs, Cougar Town or perhaps one of the two pilots he has in contention this season -- to say nothing of his colorful Twitter feed. The East Coast-bred pair, who met at a network party in 1998 and began collaborating on MTV's animated Clone High a few years later, like to joke that there is little that happens in the Lawrence-Miller household that is off-limits. "I steal everything," admits Lawrence, with his wife nodding beside him.
Warren Zavala & Sarah Self
Partner and motion picture agent, WME
Zavala and Self were colleagues well before they were a couple. "She didn't like me," says Zavala of their early days at Gersh, with his now-wife confirming, "He was aloof and abrupt," she says, laughing. "But it turned out that's what I was looking for in a soulmate." They didn't begin dating for another three years, when they reconnected at a 2008 party. By that time, Zavala, 38, had left Gersh for CAA, where he remained until joining WME in 2012. The decision for Zavala to join his wife's agency had friends cautioning them of the "nightmare" that could result; but the couple -- who count Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tobey Maguire, Diablo Cody and Rebel Wilson as clients -- is thrilled. "It's nice to have her here because everybody loves her," he says, noting that while he and Self are competitive, there's "nobody I'd rather lose to than her." Asked if she feels the same way, Self, 37, flashes a smile his way: "I don't want to lose to him!"
Bert & Jennifer Salke
President, Fox 21 Studio, and entertainment president, NBC
"We're truly yin and yang," Fox 21 Studio president Bert Salke says of his wife of 15 years. "I'm bombastic, dramatic and excitable, and Jennifer is as peaceful a person as anyone I have ever met." The pair were introduced 23 years ago at a dinner party thrown by her then-boyfriend. "I was with another woman, but I was so taken by Jennifer," recalls Bert. Days or months later -- depending on whose version of the story you believe -- their dates were no longer in the picture, and Bert (then a Fox exec) and Jennifer (at Aaron Spelling Productions) ran into each other at a restaurant. "We were both with friends, and he sent me a note across the restaurant, which I still have," she says of the man she calls her "best friend." (Bert, 51, semi-embarrassed, insists she not reveal what the note said.)
The Salkes -- now parents of three -- went on their first date the following night and have been together ever since. And while they're both particularly passionate about their jobs, they are unwilling to bring that work home with them. (Weekends largely are work-free, too, as the family of five often heads to their second home in Utah.) Doing so proved problematic years earlier, when Jennifer, 48, was a 20th TV exec who was tasked with managing Bert's overall deal as a writer-producer at the studio. "It was one of the most stressful times in our marriage," she says of the era that often had her in between her bosses, 20th TV chairmen Dana Walden and Gary Newman, and her husband. Finally, Walden had to intervene. "I'll never forget," says Bert, "Dana called me into her office and said: 'I've seen what this has done. It's not OK for my top executive to have this stress. So from now on, you report to me.' "
Douglas Wick & Lucy Fisher
Co-heads, Red Wagon Entertainment, producers, The Great Gatsby
Although Wick first set eyes on a then-attached Fisher in a studio commissary years earlier, the duo didn't begin dating until 1981. "I finally heard that she had broken up with her boyfriend, so I had a friend set us up," recalls Wick of the studio executive he had been pining after from a distance. For much of their marriage, the pair -- who wed in 1986 -- were nervous about mixing business with pleasure, with Fisher leaving the room any time Wick's productions were discussed. But when she became vice chairman at Sony, his films (Stuart Little, Gladiator) were coming up too frequently to detach herself. By 2001, she left the studio world to join her husband full time.
More than a decade later, the producing partners -- whose joint credits include Lawless and Memoirs of a Geisha -- couldn't be happier. "It's fun to have your best friend be your partner," says Fisher, whose three grown daughters with Wick have been involved in their careers, too. (Two of them were extras in the upcoming adaptation of The Great Gatsby, but Fisher sheepishly reveals their scene was cut.) She adds that her husband is insistent that they employ a "no work talk" policy from 11 p.m. to 9 a.m. to ensure their professional lives don't consume their personal ones. "Wait a minute," he interrupts. "My rule is 10:30 p.m. She's trying to, in this conversation, move it to 11."
Matt Rice & Marissa Devins
Head of TV department and TV agent, UTA
It's both hard and a privilege," says Devins of working alongside her husband of seven years, acknowledging that she and Rice, 41, are "very competitive people who try not to be with one another." The lit agents, who collectively count Mike Schur, Mindy Kaling, Happy Endings' Jonathan Groff and the upcoming Michael J. Fox comedy's writer-producer Sam Laybourne among their clients, strive to maintain separate lives at the office. (Given Rice's role as head of UTA's television department, there is a fair amount of professional crossover.)
"I would think if you asked anyone in this department if they remember that we are married, most of the time they would not," notes Devins, 36. That's not to say their work lives don't follow them home, where the duo -- who met when Rice joined the agency from Broder Webb Chervin Silbermann in late 2002 -- are raising two boys, 1 and 3. "We don't bring our sons to work too often. They think being in the office is 'boring,' " says Rice, who is as wryly funny as many of his clients. Of UTA's managing director, he quips: "And [the boys] scream in terror whenever they see Jay Sures."