Hollywood's 50 Most Powerful TV Showrunners of 2019

6:00 AM 10/3/2019

by Michael O'Connell and Lesley Goldberg

The Hollywood Reporter's annual rundown reveals who'll be making the series (and the paydays) that define the industry's next era — as these MVPs disclose what they watch when they aren’t working ('Succession'), what they think of life without agents and the peer they're most envious of (Surprise! It's Phoebe Waller-Bridge).

Illustration By Sam Hadley

In a television economy where a producer can net a $400 million deal just to go steady with one studio and a sitcom writer stands to make a piece of $600 million for letting a streamer air repeats of one defunct series, it’s become clear who wields the creative power. Call them showrunners, call them writer-producers — just know that the top players in TV are the ones calling the shots in an escalating content war that's drafting more talent to the front lines each year.

The Hollywood Reporter's annual rundown of TV's top showrunners reveals who'll be making the series (and the paydays) that define the industry's next era, as these MVPs divulge what they watch when they aren't working (Succession), what they think of life without agents and the peer they're most envious of (Surprise! It's Phoebe Waller-Bridge).

  • J.J. Abrams

    Castle Rock (Hulu); Westworld (HBO)

    Bill Watters/WireImage

    Ink barely dry on his Bad Robot's incentive-laden $250 million deal at WarnerMedia, Abrams, 53, will focus on creating new TV and film franchises on top of producing an aggressive slate of current and upcoming programming — including HBO's Demimonde, the first show he's written and created since Alias (2001).

    The writer-producer I'd trade places with for a day "Donald Glover, because, well, Atlanta — or Charlie Brooker, because Black Mirror breaks my mind and heart. Also Issa Rae. Insecure is a revelation.

  • Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa

    Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (Netflix); Riverdale (The CW)

    Kevin Winter/Getty Images

    Few could have predicted, just five years ago, that Archie Comics would be the source of some of TV's most thriving IP — but here we are. A second Riverdale spinoff, Katy Keene, lands on The CW in midseason. Franchise shepherd Aguirre-Sacasa, 45, is TV's Gen Z whisperer — evidenced by a rich Warner Bros. deal, with the ability to sell beyond The CW.

    The writer-producer I'd trade places with for a day "Amy Sherman Palladino, because I want to live inside of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel."

    The recent show I couldn't stop watching "Euphoria."

    If I wasn't in TV, I'd be … "Hopefully writing comic books."

  • Jesse Armstrong

    Succession (HBO)

    Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

    Succession's caustic humor and attention to media industry detail has earned the HBO drama a cadre of showbiz devotees — and its creator his first writing Emmy. The 47-year-old British import snagged the key win over more venerable dramas, setting up his Murdoch-esque family satire, already renewed for season three, for a fruitful future at the evolving prestige outlet.

    The writer-producer I'd trade places with for a day "I'd be fascinated to spend some time in a really joke-dense tightly structured U.S. sitcom room, so maybe Tina Fey and Robert Carlock."

    The recent show I couldn't stop watching "Fleabag season two. The restaurant scene in the first episode was just so fluid and delicious."

    The series most discussed in our room "Our [Oct. 13] season finale is set on a yacht, so anything nautical — Triangle, Love Boat, Knightboat, Howards' Way."

  • Kenya Barris

    Black-ish, Mixed-ish (ABC); Grown-ish (Freeform)

    Brent N. Clarke/FilmMagic

    Moving from Disney to Netflix in 2018 with a rich $80 million deal did not stop the prolific comedy writer, 45, from selling one last project to ABC. The Tracee Ellis Ross-co-created Mixed-ish got one of the biggest marketing pushes of the fall and premiered to a solid live 4 million viewers and a 0.9 rating among adults 18-49. Up next, Barris' own starring vehicle alongside Rashida Jones in Netflix's Black Excellence.

    The writer-producer I'd trade places with for a day "Jesse Armstrong on Succession. God, that show is fun!"

    The one thing I don’t miss about having an agent … "Staffing calls."

    The best piece of writing advice I've ever received ... "Comes from Stephen King’s On Writing. He writes that our brains are Pavlovian, so if we write in the same place at the same time every day, even when we don’t feel like writing, our brains will kick in and push us through."

  • Alec Berg, Bill Hader and Mike Judge

    Barry, Silicon Valley (HBO)

    Getty Images

    Hader and Berg's assassin comedy baby, Barry, continued to wow critics in its second season — earning co-showrunner Hader, 41, a second Emmy for his lead role. Berg, 50, is now working with his other comedy pal, Judge, 56, on the final season of Silicon Valley — after which Judge turns his attention to his HBO development deal.

    The recent show I couldn't stop watching 

    Hader: "Adventure Time with my daughters."

    The series most discussed in our room 

    Hader: "It's usually people having to listen to me talk about true-crime shows."

  • Greg Berlanti

    All American, Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow, Riverdale, Black Lightning (The CW); Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, You (Netflix); God Friended Me (CBS); Blindspot (NBC); Doom Patrol, Titans (DC Universe)

    Jesse Grant/Getty Images

    Setting new records for his series load every year, Berlanti, 47, now counts 19 shows across seven outlets (including four of the five broadcast networks) as part of his $400 million overall deal with Warner Bros. Highlights — and there are plenty — include quiet CBS breakout God Friended Me and Lifetime-to-Netflix sleeper You.

    The writer-producer I'd trade places with for a day "Any first-time showrunner — as hard as it is, there is truly nothing as exciting."

    The biggest challenge to staffing in 2019 "I was really proud that everyone at our company worked so hard to get fresh voices, and without agents."

    The best piece of writing advice I've ever received ... "Write something totally new every few years to remember your own voice."

  • Charlie Brooker and Annabel Jones

    Black Mirror (Netflix)

    Getty Images

    Both a TV series and an annual event, British anthology Black Mirror has grown from its humble beginnings as a modest Channel 4 player to a Netflix global phenomenon — with marquee episodes earning three consecutive Emmys for best TV movie. Brooker, 48, and Jones are adored by their peer group, and Netflix is said to be making a big pitch for their first overall deal.

    The recent show I couldn't stop watching

    Jones: "A comedy on BBC2 in the U.K. called Mum. The writing is small, beautiful, funny and painfully poignant."

    One industry trend I can't wait to see go away 

    Brooker: "It's not really part of our industry, but any TV manufacturer who doesn't disable "motion-smoothing" by default should have its factory burned to the ground and the embers spat and shat on."

    The one thing I don’t miss about having an agent …

    Jones: "What's an agent?"

    The best piece of writing advice I've ever received ...

    Brooker: "I interviewed Russell T Davies for a TV show I was doing about writers. He said something about how dialogue between characters should often actually consist of two monologues clashing, and I felt something click in my head."

    Jones: "Are you not quite sure what he said because you weren’t really listening? Just working on your own monologue?"

  • Carlton Cuse

    Jack Ryan (Amazon)

    Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

    The Lost co-creator, 60, has been relatively quiet since signing a four-year, $20 million deal to return to ABC Studios. Cuse, who continues to produce Amazon's Jack Ryan after stepping down as day-to-day showrunner, is deeply involved with Netflix comic book adaptation Locke & Key — while working on a slate of new series for Disney+.

    The writer-producer I'd trade places with for a day "Mike Schur — all his work is awesome."

    The best piece of writing advice I've ever received "Nora Ephron: 'Don't listen to a note from someone who doesn't like your script.'"

    If I wasn't in TV, I'd be … "President of the Red Sox. Calling Tom Werner … hello?"

  • Lee Daniels

    Empire (Fox)

    Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

    Weathering scandal (Jussie Smollett) and setbacks (Star's cancellation), Daniels is setting up his next act while producing the final season of Empire. Recommitted to 20th Century Fox amid merger confusion, he's in active development on multiple projects — including one with FX.

    The series most discussed in our room "Dynasty, the 1981 series on ABC."

    The recent show I couldn't stop watching "Both Schitt's Creek and Chernobyl."

    The one thing I don’t miss about having an agent … "Cutting that check. Really ... that's about it."

  • Matt and Ross Duffer

    Stranger Things (Netflix)

    Christopher Polk/Getty Images

    In July, Netflix boasted that 40.7 million accounts watched Stranger Things' third season over its holiday weekend opener. So it's no wonder the streamer is investing in its twin brother creators, 35, recently negotiating a fourth season — with an inevitable fifth and final expected. The Duffers are clearly thinking about a next act, signing their first overall (with Netflix) for both TV and film.

    The series most discussed in our room

    Matt: "I’ve recently been re-binging Friday Night Lights — so that’s now discussed a lot in the room. One of my all-time favorites."

    The recent show I couldn't stop watching

    Ross: "Succession. So addicting. So frustrating to wait every week."

    If I wasn't in TV, I'd be 

    Matt: "Working at an amusement park." 

    One industry trend I can't wait to see go away 

    Ross: "Trailers for the trailer that you're about to watch. Why?"

  • Ava DuVernay

    Queen Sugar (OWN); When They See Us (Netflix)

    Gilbert Carrasquillo/WireImage

    Set at Warner Horizon Scripted Television (a new eight-figure deal in 2018) with a first-look pact at pal Oprah Winfrey's Harpo Films, DuVernay sees her TV profile grow every year. She sold anthology Cherish the Day to OWN and netted 16 Emmy nominations (and, per Netflix, 23 million global viewers) for limited series When They See Us. And Queen Sugar, renewed for season five, now functions as the dramatic flagship of a post-Tyler Perry OWN.

    The recent show I couldn't stop watching Russian Doll.

    The best piece of writing advice I've ever received "It'll be bad before it's good. Keep writing through the bad."

    The biggest challenge to staffing in 2019 "Shattering myths that there aren’t superb people of color and women of all kinds who can fill these positions on every kind of show, at every level."

  • Sam Esmail

    Mr. Robot (USA); Homecoming (Amazon)

    Rich Fury/Getty Images

    When the Mr. Robot creator caught Amazon's eye with Julia Roberts starrer Homecoming, NBCUniversal ponied up an estimated $20 million to $25 million a year to have the increasingly prolific TV scribe mine existing IP (Battlestar Galactica) and new ideas for both streamer Peacock and competing outlets.

    Read more about Esmail here.

  • Mike Flanagan and Trevor Macy

    The Haunting (Netflix)

    Emma McIntyre/Getty Images

    Horror hit The Haunting of Hill House made things happen quickly for Flanagan. Within three months of its launch, the filmmaker signed a handsome overall at Netflix and boarded EP Trevor Macy's Intrepid Pictures as partner. The pair are working exclusively to develop new series for the streamer — including transitioning The Haunting into an anthology, the next installment of which will tackle Henry James' Gothic novella The Turn of the Screw.

    The writer-producer I'd trade places with for a day Flanagan: "Chris Chibnall — I’ve always wanted a shot at Doctor Who."

    The recent show I couldn't stop watching Flanagan: "I’m obsessed with Succession. It’s just fantastic. And before that, I hung on every moment of Chernobyl."

    The series most discussed in our room Flanagan: "We couldn't stop talking about Six Feet Under. Still the best series finale I've ever seen."

  • Dan Fogelman, Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger

    This Is Us (NBC)

    Getty Images

    May brought a massive windfall for Fogelman, who saw the NBC drama renewed for three more seasons and his deal with 20th Century Fox TV extended for five years at a nine-figure price tag. Sound like a lot of numbers? That's because the series, co-showrun by Aptaker and Berger, still dominates the Big Four among adults 18-49 in its fourth season.

    The writer-producer I'd trade places with for a day 

    Aptaker: "James L. Brooks when he was doing Mary Tyler Moore. Is time travel allowed?"

    The recent show I couldn't stop watching

    Aptaker: "The Other Two. I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time."

    The series most discussed in our room 

    Berger: "Married at First Sight. A few of us are obsessed. There may have been a screening party."

    The best writing advice I’ve ever received …

    Berger: "Write like you're on deadline, even if nobody is waiting for your work."

  • Scott M. Gimple

    Fear the Walking Dead, The Walking Dead (AMC)

    Araya Diaz/WireImage

    A year and a half after being given keys to the Walking Dead kingdom, Gimple, a showrunner turned franchise chief content officer, has a third series in the wings and a trilogy of feature films built around former leading man Andrew Lincoln. With Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman firmly established at Amazon, Gimple is tasked with steadying the flagship amid declining ratings.

    If I wasn't in TV, I'd be … "Watching so much more TV."

    The recent show I couldn't stop watching "Season six of 'coffee cup.'"

  • Adam F. Goldberg

    The Goldbergs, Schooled (ABC)

    Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

    Semi-autobiographical The Goldbergs became a franchise in 2019 with the launch of '90s-set spinoff Schooled. After a long career at Sony Pictures Television, the 43-year-old is looking to lean hard into Disney's deep bench of titles with his new four-year, eight-figure overall deal with the company.

    The writer-producer I'd trade places with for a day "Mike Schur. I’d immediately make a formal announcement that The Good Place wasn’t ending, which would then force him to continue it forever!"

    The recent show I couldn't stop watching "The Boys — truly a twisted, utterly brilliant satire on the superhero genre."

    If I wasn't in TV, I'd be "I'd be in film, desperately trying to find a way to pitch The Goonies 2."

  • Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould

    Better Call Saul (AMC)

    Jesse Grant/Getty Images

    Breaking Bad is the gift that keeps on giving — with spinoff Better Call Saul scoring nine Emmy nominations for its fourth season and movie tie-in El Camino sure to cause a stir on Netflix come Oct. 11. Meanwhile, Gould and Gilligan remain vital creative forces at Sony TV as competition takes more top writers away from the platform-agnostic studio.

    The writer-producer I'd trade places with for a day

    Gould: "Norman Lear."

    The series most discussed in our room

    Gould: "Escape at Dannemora."

    The best writing advice I’ve ever received …

    Gould: "Ask yourself what an actual human being would do."

  • Noah Hawley

    Fargo (FX)

    VALERIE MACON/AFP/Getty Images

    Closing the door on three seasons of Legion, Hawley remains a favorite son at FX — where his 26 Keys Productions is prepping the fourth installment of its Fargo anthology with star Chris Rock and likely will start production on an adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle in 2020.

    The recent show I couldn't stop watching "Mindhunter. The casting is profoundly good and the sense of dread is palpable."

    The best writing advice I’ve ever received … "Don’t take it personally. Whatever anyone thinks of your scripts or your show is about the work, not a referendum on you."

  • Leslye Headland and Natasha Lyonne

    Russian Doll (Netflix)

    Charley Gallay/Getty Images; Dan MacMedan/WireImage

    Russian Doll proved to be the first true TV breakout of 2019, earning 89 out of 100 on Metacritic and inspiring Netflix to conspire with the creative team — Headland, 38, Lyonne, 40, and Amy Poehler, 48 — on how to keep the apparent one-off going. A renewal came June 11, shortly before 13 Emmy nominations and three wins.

    One industry trend I can't wait to see go away

    Headland: "Pulling shows and films before they premiere based on public reactions to trailers, reviews or loglines."

    Lyonne: "'Women' in film! How about just calling it film without the endless, minimizing qualifiers?"

    The series most discussed in our room

    Headland: "The Singing Detective"

    If I wasn't in TV, I'd be … 

    Lyonne: "A dispatcher for Delancey Car Service."

    The best writing advice I’ve ever received … 

    Lyonne: "It's supposed to feel this bad."

  • Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan

    Westworld (HBO)

    John Lamparski/WireImage

    The married duo behind HBO's Westworld left their individual overall deals with Warner Bros. TV and cashed in on a $150 million arrangement with Amazon. After being heavily pursued by streamers and traditional studios alike, Joy and Nolan will focus on creating new projects — and three more seasons of Westworld.

    The recent show I couldn't stop watching 

    Joy: "We're married, so after we're done arguing over the show we're writing, we argue over what show to watch. Right now we agree on Fleabag and Succession."

    If I wasn't in TV, I'd be … 

    Nolan: "Well-adjusted and bored."

    The biggest challenge to staffing in 2019

    Joy: "Everyone already has their own show. On their own network."

    The best writing advice I’ve ever received …

    Nolan: "Allergy meds make you dumber while you're taking them. Sorry. Get a box of Kleenex and keep writing."

  • Mindy Kaling

    Four Weddings (Hulu)

    Lars Niki/Getty Images

    After taking a small break from TV, the comedic scribe returned with force in 2019 — launching miniseries Four Weddings and a Funeral on Hulu and selling an autobiographical sitcom to Netflix. She also departed NBCUniversal for an overall deal at Warner Bros., where she's guaranteed at least $50 million over six years.

    The writer-producer I'd trade places with for a day "Ryan Murphy. He writes for legends, and his clothes are on point."

    The recent show I couldn't stop watching "Mindhunter basically takes place in a basement, with four people talking, and it's the scariest thing I've ever seen."

    One industry trend I can't wait to see go away "When journalists only ask minority showrunners about the racial makeup of their staffs and casts — that's everyone's responsibility, not just ours."

  • Gloria Calderon Kellett and Mike Royce

    One Day at a Time (POP)

    Rich Polk/Getty Images

    When Netflix was panned for putting the kibosh on a fourth season of One Day at a Time, protracted negotiations with multiple outlets ensued until Pop (of all places) wrestled the rights to Sony TV's Norman Lear remake. It illustrated that, even with a small audience, showrunners who've courted the right following can find a way to stay on air.

    One industry trend I can't wait to see go away 

    Calderón Kellett: "Series regulars having to be model attractive."

    The one thing I don’t miss about having an agent …

    Calderón Kellett: "I can't lie, I liked my agents. I miss them."

  • David E. Kelley

    Big Little Lies (HBO); Mr. Mercedes (Audience)

    Gabriel Olsen/FilmMagic

    The legendary writer-producer, who claims he enjoys not being tied down to a big overall deal, segues from season two of Big Little Lies to new Nicole Kidman HBO vehicle The Undoing. That's on top of Audience Network's cult hit Mr. Mercedes and an upcoming broadcast return with CBS' The Lincoln Lawyer.

    The writer-producer I'd trade places with for a day "Norman Lear."

    If I wasn't in TV, I'd be … "Fishing."

  • Courtney A. Kemp

    Power (Starz)

    Dominik Bindl/FilmMagic

    The 42-year-old scribe recommitted to Power producer Lionsgate Television with a new three-year deal in 2018. There, she's already sold the "first of several" spinoffs to the exiting Starz flagship — a prequel starring Oscar nominee Mary J. Blige.

    The writer-producer I'd trade places with for a day "David E. Kelley. Multiple series on the air, tons of hardware, and he runs his business so he can focus on writing. That's the dream."

    The recent show I couldn't stop watching "I loved the 90210 reboot. I guess the nostalgia got to me."

    One industry trend I can't wait to see go away "Showrunners calling me, asking for recommendations of writers of color — while simultaneously complaining about the burden of finding and hiring said writers of color."

  • Michelle and Robert King

    The Good Fight (CBS All Access); Evil (CBS)

    Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images

    Oft referred to as the most cerebral drama writers still dabbling in broadcast (CBS fall premiere Evil), the married pair of Michelle, 57, and Robert, 60, continue to expand their output under their CBS Studios deal. Their primary focus, The Good Fight, is heading into its fourth season at CBS All Access, while Bryan Cranston's TV return (Your Honor) is expected to hit Showtime in 2020.

    The writer-producer I'd trade places with for a day

    Michelle: "I'd trade places with Tina Fey for a day. Only worry is I'd be so busy enjoying my own jokes that I wouldn't get anything done."

    The series most discussed in our room 

    Robert: "High Maintenance."

    If I wasn't in TV, I'd be

    Michelle: "A hostage negotiator."

    Robert: "A failed bicycle messenger in San Francisco."

  • Jenji Kohan, Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch

    Orange Is the New Black, Glow (Netflix)

    Getty Images

    Orange Is the New Black wrapped its influential seven-season run over the summer, leaving Kohan, 50, time to focus on new Netflix series Slutty Teenage Bounty Hunters — while scribe pals Flahive and Mensch ride their rising profiles as they shop a new project and prep the fourth and final season of wrestling dramedy GLOW.

    The writer-producer I'd trade places with for a day 

    Kohan: "David Chang, because who wouldn't want to travel and eat?"

    The series most discussed in our room

    Flahive: "Anything from the '80s, but it always comes back to The Golden Girls."

    One industry trend I can't wait to see go away

    Mensch: "What are industry trends? Diminishing backends?"

    The best writing advice I’ve ever received …

    Flahive: "Don't read your draft directly after finishing. Even if you are on a tight deadline, walk away. Then come back with fresh eyes and read."

    If I wasn't in TV, I'd be..

    Kohan: "In real estate. I love poking through other people's places."

  • Alex Kurtzman

    Star Trek Discovery (CBS All Access)

    Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images

    Handed the keys to CBS' Star Trek universe, the mega-producer has revived the valuable franchise with DiscoveryPicard, animated entry Lower Decks and Michelle Yeoh's upcoming Section 31. The 46-year-old also is adapting The Man Who Fell to Earth for CBS All Access as part of his $25 million overall deal, which now seems like a bargain.

    The writer-producer I'd trade places with for a day "Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij — they’ve created a new kind of spiritual storytelling that rewrites rules in multiple genres at once. I can’t stay ahead of their thinking episode to episode [of The O.A.], and I’d like to be inside their heads to watch their process."

    The series most discussed in our room "Star Trek, the original series, obviously!"

    One industry trend I can't wait to see go away "Streaming services hiding ratings. When the data's controlled, creatives are left guessing. We need that feedback."

  • Sam Levinson

    Euphoria (HBO)

    Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic for HBO

    Euphoria made headlines for an episode featuring "30 penises," but shock value subsided and the drama emerged as the freshman hit of the summer. HBO responded with a quick renewal. Bolstering the profile of Levinson, 34, is the fact that Zendaya picked him to help write the next act of her skyrocketing career.

    The recent show I couldn't stop watching "Love Island, the U.K. version. It ended up being not a wholly unproductive experience."

    The series most discussed in our room  "RuPaul's Drag Race." 

    One industry trend I can't wait to see go away "Studios and networks being overly reliant on IP to make decisions."

  • Steve Levitan and Christopher Lloyd

    Modern Family (ABC)

    Gabriel Olsen/FilmMagic; Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

    With their landmark ABC sitcom (still a top 10 scripted show) set to end with its 11th season, Levitan, 57, and Lloyd, 59, are two veteran wild cards on the verge of a next act. Levitan's future is the most clear, as he's signed a five-year, $125 million overall at 20th TV.

    One industry trend I can't wait to see go away

    Lloyd: "People thinking I'm the guy from Back to the Future."

    The biggest challenge to staffing in 2019

    Levitan: "Competing with the Obamas for writers."

    The one thing I don’t miss about having an agent …

    Levitan: "Hearing 'I got Jeffrey Katzenberg calling.' Click."

    Lloyd: "Wondering if some intern is listening in on every phone call, a practice almost as noxious as packaging."

  • Chuck Lorre

    Mom, Young Sheldon, Bob Hearts Abishola (CBS); The Kominsky Method (Netflix)

    Emma McIntyre/Getty Images

    In September, Lorre again cashed in on the late Big Bang Theory with a record-setting streaming and syndication WarnerMedia deal said to be worth $600 million. Meanwhile, Young Sheldon is CBS' de facto comedy flagship as the 66-year-old tries to keep his broadcast legacy alive with rookie Bob Hearts Abishola amid streaming victories like Netflix Golden Globe winner The Kominsky Method. Expect an eye-popping price tag attached to Lorre in the near future as Warner Bros. TV looks to renew his current deal before it expires in June.

    The writer-producer I'd trade places with for a day "I wouldn't want to trade places with her, but if I could find a way to worship Phoebe Waller-Bridge without it being creepy, that would be nice."

  • Liz Meriwether

    Single Parents, Bless This Mess (ABC)

    Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival

    When New Girl ended in 2018, its creator quickly sold two comedies to ABC — both renewed after solid freshman performances. She continues to manage both Bless This Mess and Single Parents, also overseeing Hulu's miniseries The Dropout. Starring Kate McKinnon as Elizabeth Holmes, it's one of several Theranos projects in the works but expected to be the first to get a release.

    The recent show I couldn't stop watching "Succession — I'm a big Roman/Gerri shipper."

    One industry trend I can't wait to see go away "I would love to be able to call my agent again. Is that a 'trend'?"

    If I wasn't in TV, I'd be … "Volunteering for whoever is going to run against Trump in 2020."

    The biggest challenge to staffing in 2019 "It was eye-opening. I was reminded of how many writers are overlooked and how it's good to shake up the process and re-examine how we get submissions. I relied so much on showrunners and writers I know for suggestions, and I was struck and moved by how strong our community is. That being said, at the end of my life, I think I will look back at the hours I spent trying to navigate the WGA staffing database and think, 'Shit, I really should have been doing something else.'"

  • Bruce Miller

    The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)

    Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

    Still under a multiyear overall deal with MGM Television and Hulu, Miller's primary concern is The Handmaid's Tale — prepping a sequel while seeing that the upcoming fourth season finds itself back in pop culture's good graces after a whirlwind debut and two more-divisive follow-ups.

    The writer-producer I'd trade places with for a day "Greg Berlanti, because it would be fun to be that good-looking for a day."

    Most recent show I couldn't stop watching  "The Society." 

    The best piece of writing advice I've ever received "R. Scott Gemmill had a Post-It over his computer that said 'Keep It Simple.' That is the advice I return to more than any other."

  • Ronald D. Moore

    Outlander (Starz)

    Michael Kovac/Getty Images

    Outlander remains a top original on Starz, but Moore's real industry sway at the moment is likely on Apple. Space-race drama For All Mankind is part of the streamer's opening slate, serving as the focal point of the Cupertino launch presentation over buzzy Morning Show.

    The series most discussed in our room "The Sopranos."

    The recent show I couldn't stop watching "Russian Doll."

  • Peter Morgan

    The Crown (Netflix)

    John Phillips/Getty Images

    The 56-year-old Brit may consider adding "casting psychic" to his CV. A year before Olivia Colman's Oscar-winning portrayal of Queen Anne in The Favourite had even screened at festivals, Morgan tapped her to take the royal reins of Queen Elizabeth II from Claire Foy in the time-jumping third installment of The Crown. Its Nov. 17 return couldn't possibly come with higher expectations.

  • Chris Mundy

    Ozark (Netflix)

    Emma McIntyre/Getty Images

    Under the radar no more, Ozark (said to be among Netflix's most watched by Nielsen) scored two key Emmys for its second season — supporting actress for Julia Garner and directing for Jason Bateman. And Mundy is expected to unveil a third outing of the family crime drama in 2020.

    The writer-producer I'd trade places with for a day "Donald Glover. He's doing whatever he wants with the storytelling on Atlanta. He's not driven by anything but what he thinks is the best creative choice, he does it on his own time table, and the people around him clearly trust that it will be great — which it is."

    One industry trend I can't wait to see go away "The total decimation of the residual system."

    If I wasn't in TV, I'd be … "Still in journalism."

  • Ryan Murphy, Tim Minear and Brad Falchuk

    Pose, American Horror Story (FX); 9-1-1 (Fox); The Politician (Netflix)

    Getty Images

    Specifics around Murphy, 53, and Falchuk, 48 (both at Netflix), and longtime collaborator Minear, 55, and still at 20th Century Fox TV, and their roles can get confusing. Put simply, Minear is focused on broadcast (9-1-1 and its coming spinoff) and cable (American Horror Story) while Murphy and Falchuk pursue new projects via their lucrative deal with the streamer — like The Politician, which is technically a 20th show … Regardless, they're all terribly busy.

    The best piece of writing advice I've ever received

    Falchuk: "Write for yourself."

    If I wasn't in TV, I'd be

    Minear: "Stocking the salad bar at the Sizzler."

  • Jordan Peele

    Twilight Zone (CBS All Access); The Last O.G. (TBS)

    Dia Dipasupil/WireImage

    His update of The Twilight Zone did not land in the zeitgeist the way many anticipated, but the in-demand producer-scribe, 40, still earned a renewal for the anthology as he preps big projects at both Amazon (The Hunt) and HBO (Lovecraft Country) and eyes even more output at Amazon under his year-old overall deal.

  • Prentice Penny and Issa Rae

    Insecure (HBO)

    FilmMagic/FilmMagic

    As the duo's work on Insecure picks up on the delayed fourth season, Rae, 34, has been focused on a thriving film career and her producing work with Robin Thede on A Black Lady Sketch Show.

    The writer-producer I'd trade places with for a day

    Penny: "J.J. Abrams, because his talent is amazing and his checks run long."

    The biggest challenge to staffing in 2019

    Rae: "Finding black showrunners who are available."

    The best writing advice I’ve ever received …

    Rae: "The first draft is always trash."

  • Tyler Perry

    The Haves and the Have Nots (OWN)

    Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images

    Perry's value to new home Viacom is so big that the multihyphenate is credited as a co-owner of streaming service BET+, which now serves as the home for his stage, theatrical and TV library. Perry is committed to producing 90 episodes annually of original drama and comedy series for Viacom platforms, in addition to existing OWN series, with BET's White House soap The Oval next on deck.

  • Julie Plec

    Legacies; Roswell (The CW)

    Tasia Wells/Getty Images

    The onetime queen of The CW is expanding her horizons, selling campaign trail drama Girls on the Bus to Netflix as sources say multiple parties look to lock Plec, 47, into an exclusive deal.

    The writer-producer I'd trade places with for a day "Damon Lindelof. Even though he would be the first to say no one would want to be inside his brain."

    If I wasn't in TV, I'd be … "Writing a young adult novel on the veranda of someone's borrowed beach house."

  • Michael Schur

    Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The Good Place (NBC)

    John Lamparski /Wireimage

    Inking the Good Place creator to a new $125 million overall deal was among Universal TV's top 2019 priorities as Schur, like Tina Fey, is expected to be a key ingredient in streaming service Peacock. The platform's first announcement explains why: Schur-created Parks and Recreation will stream there exclusively, joined by his first-ever streaming original, Rutherford Falls.

  • Taylor Sheridan

    Yellowstone (Paramount)

    Steve Granitz/WireImage

    Topping 6 million viewers per episode, Sheridan's Kevin Costner drama is eclipsed on basic cable only by The Walking Dead — and the margins are narrowing. Not only has the hit reinvigorated the 49-year-old filmmaker's career, but it also put Paramount Network on the map.

    The writer-producer I'd trade places with for a day "Tyler Perry, because he's a beast and a friend who would forgive me for how much I can screw things up in just one day."

    The best writing advice I’ve ever received … "Kill your darlings. Every one of them."

  • Amy Sherman Palladino and Dan Palladino

    The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon)

    Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

    The Amazon-set married multihyphenates, whose Mrs. Maisel topped all other 2019 comedies in earning another eight Emmys in September, have a third season of their critical favorite coming up in the fall and another feminist period piece (based on Mary Gabriel's nonfiction book Ninth Street Women) in the works.

    The series most discussed in our room

    Sherman-Palladino: "What are these writers rooms who have all this time to talk about anything other than their own show?"

  • Darren Star

    Younger (TV Land)

    LISA O'CONNOR/AFP/Getty Images

    For a 58-year-old man, Star seems to really get women. Younger continues to defy ratings expectations as cable's top sitcom among female viewers for three years running, and its upcoming seventh season will see its veteran EP pulling double duty. New drama Emily in Paris, starring Lily Collins, is next up at Paramount.

    The writer-producer I'd trade places with for a day "Phil Rosenthal, so I can have what Phil's having."

    The recent show I couldn't stop watching "My Brilliant Friend."

  • Krista Vernoff

    Grey’s Anatomy, Station 19 (ABC)

    Phillip Faraone/FilmMagic

    After Shonda Rhimes left for Netflix, Vernoff was handed the reins of Grey's Anatomy and reestablished the Ellen Pompeo starrer as ABC's most watched drama. The network hopes Vernoff can work the same magic on middling spinoff Station 19, putting it in her charge after signing her to a sizable overall deal that will also see her create new projects for the studio.

    The recent show I couldn't stop watching "Barry — it's a love letter to the power of art disguised as a show about a hitman."

    The best writing advice I’ve ever received … "'Move a muscle, change a thought.' This applies to moods and downward thought spirals, but it also applies to writing. Even if you’re on deadline, take a walk. Even if you’re drowning in work, take a walk. A 10-minute walk can change everything."

  • Lena Waithe

    The Chi (Showtime)

    Michael Kovac/Getty Images

    Everyone in Hollywood seems to want to work with Waithe. Unfortunately for them, the 35-year-old recently boarded Amazon with a two-year, eight-figure deal. That followed the streamer giving a two-season commitment to horror anthology THEM, a project that will join Showtime's The Chi and passion project Twenties (BET) on a growing current slate.

    The recent show I couldn't stop watching "Couples Therapy on Showtime."

    One industry trend I can't wait to see go away "The idea that you need a name for something to work. We need to break new talent."

    If I wasn't in TV, I'd be … "In Chicago, working at Best Buy."

  • Phoebe Waller-Bridge

    Fleabag (Amazon); Killing Eve (BBC America)

    David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images

    Two days before sweeping the Emmys for the final season of Fleabag, Waller-Bridge signed a $60 million deal to make more TV for Amazon. That's on top of the 34-year-old's EP commitments to BBC America's Killing Eve and upcoming HBO comedy Run from best friend and collaborator Vicky Jones. Beyond that, Waller-Bridge has carte blanche to do whatever she likes.

  • John Wells

    Shameless (Showtime); Animal Kingdom (TNT)

    Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for for Motion Picture & Television Fund

    After considering ditching the studio system and going independent, Wells renewed his overall deal with Shameless and Animal Kingdom producer Warner Bros. TV with a five-year, nine-figure deal. There, he's steering the Showtime and TNT dramas and is prepping an aggressive slate of new originals with Berlanti-esque aspirations.

    The recent show I couldn't stop watching "Chernobyl — beautifully shot, wonderful writing, action and direction. And terrifying."

    One industry trend I can't wait to see go away "Writer mini rooms. Many writers are not being paid appropriately for their services."

  • Dick Wolf

    Law & Order: SVU, Chicago Fire, PD and Med (NBC); FBI (CBS)

    Arnold Jerocki/WireImage

    His Law & Order: SVU is now TV's longest-running primetime live-action series, with 21 seasons — sorry, Gunsmoke! — and is set to launch a new spinoff (Hate Crimes, for NBC or possibly Peacock). Additionally, Wolf still has three Chicago series as CBS rookie FBI heads into franchise territory with spinoff Most Wanted bowing later in the season. New York Undercover seems poised for a reboot on Peacock, which is also bidding on a potentially multibillion-dollar library of nearly 2,000 Wolf-produced hours of television.

    The writer-producer I'd trade places with for a day "Chuck Lorre."

    One industry trend I can't wait to see go away "Eight-episode orders."

  • Alan Yang

    Forever (Amazon); Little America (Apple)

    Jim Spellman/Getty Images

    After unleashing quirky Forever on Amazon in 2018, Yang is following up with a comic anthology at Apple about the immigrant experience — one the 36-year-old is producing with Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon.

    The writer-producer I'd trade places with for a day "Norman Lear. Need to know what he's eating to keep making good shows at 97 years old. Gimme that stuff, Norman!"

    The recent show I couldn't stop watching "Friday Night Lights, which I am 13 years behind on."

    Methodology: Qualifying producers must have had at least one series air between September 2018 and August 2019 and were selected based on criteria including viewership, awards, deal size, volume and value to respective platforms.

    A version of this story first appeared in the Oct. 1 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.