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TV's scripted surge, which puts the number of original U.S. series well over 400 by 2016's end, finally has created another, quieter phenomenon: L.A. may have more showrunners than taco trucks.
A role once so rarefied and coveted that you'd have been hard-pressed to name 50 people who held it now has proliferated in the era of "Peak TV" to the point where it seems almost disrespectful to highlight such a small number as the 69 featured in this piece. But to stand out as a showrunner, one can't simply write and produce. Those at the top of the game have upward of six series on the air (calm down, Greg Berlanti!), pull exceptional ratings (Game of Thrones' 25 million-strong audience), keep viewers and awards voters talking (The Americans finally got its Emmy nominations) or have a vision so specific (Darren Star's hip, un-TV Land Younger) that a network or streamer is willing to build a brand around their vision.
THR's annual canvassing of TV's biggest players reveals them unanimously bemoaning a lack of resources on every level: "Transparent stole my sound mixer last year midseason," says You're the Worst creator Stephen Falk. "Yeah, Jill Soloway, I'll call you out." Adds Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt co-creator Tina Fey, "Every living actor has their own show." And don't even get them started on the fight for studio space in Vancouver. The 2016 Power Showrunners class, with 13 new entries, offers an inside look at the perks and pitfalls of the evolving role.
Entries by Lesley Goldberg, Michael O'Connell, Bryn Elise Sandberg and Kate Stanhope
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