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This story first appeared in the Oct. 17 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
With nearly 200 U.S. scripted series airing on cable alone — and dozens more on the traditional broadcast networks — the medium is as saturated as ever. That’s one of the many reasons why editors at The Hollywood Reporter chose to slightly rethink the blueprint for what exactly defines the most powerful showrunners of 2014.
Still crucial to the selection process? Ratings, critical acclaim and an individual or creative team’s overall value to their respective network and studio. What’s changed? Doh! This year, THR omitted animators, who work in a significantly different way (with much larger teams) than live-action showrunners. Also, a series has to have been on the air for its creator to be feted (so press “pause” on the Vince Gilligan lovefest until 2015, when his Breaking Bad spinoff, Better Call Saul, can be fairly evaluated).
The result: a rundown of the writer-producers driving TV’s biggest series — with an asterisk (*) denoting seven superproducers who oversee numerous shows but don’t necessarily run the day-to-day creative. Plus: the memorable career lows (execs dozing off in pitches), the spec scripts they’d rather forget and the stranger-than-fiction fan interactions (one Glee viewer had to be removed from Ryan Murphy‘s porch by a SWAT team) that are increasingly common in the golden age of the celebrity showrunner.
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