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From their obsessive rituals (Peppermint Patties! Oatmeal! Bruce Springsteen!) to the parts of their jobs they hate most (killing characters off, dealing with agents), TV’s most influential writer-producers featured on The Hollywood Reporter‘s annual list of the Top 50 Showrunners come clean about the people, things and quirky habits that keep them — and their shows — alive.
The show that inspired me to write:
King: The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
My big break:
King: Joining the staff of Murphy Brown.
My TV mentor:
King: Diane English is still the most shining example of a showrunner I’ve yet to experience.
My proudest accomplishment in this year:
King: Putting a show on the air in a traditional sitcom format that has a contemporary edge.
My toughest scene to write this year:
King: The second episode of any new show can be tough. You have about a week to top the well-crafted and polished pilot episode that was written over six months.
The most absurd network I’ve ever gotten:
King: “Fourteen uses of the word vagina are too many in one script.” To which I replied: “How many is acceptable?” The response: “Six.”
The aspect of my job as showrunner that I’d rather delegate:
King: Looking at the ratings the morning after.
My preferred method for working through writer’s block:
If I could add any one writer to my staff, it would be:
King: Jesus Christ, because in some late night rewrites – you need a miracle.
What is the show I’m embarrassed to admit I watch:
King: Anything that has a housewife on it that writes her own dialogue.
The three things I need to write:
King: Time, tea and tuna sandwiches.
If I could scrub one credit from my resume, it would be:
King: None. The bad shows make you better. Not necessarily your writing – but you.
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