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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:
Salim: The Honeymooners.
Mara: A Different World.
My big break:
Salim: Writing for Showtime’s Soul Food.
Mara: Writer’s trainee on the Fox series South Central.
My proudest accomplishment this year:
Salim: Our overall deal with BET.
Mara: My first writing credit for a film, Sparkle, which was directed by Salim and produced by Akil Productions.
I’d rather delegate:
Salim: Making the coffee.
Mara: Firing, until I realized that people fire themselves.
How I break through writer’s block:
Salim: I drive back to Oakland.
Mara: Sex with Salim.
If I could add any writer to our staff, it would be:
Salim: NYU professor Donald Bogle.
Mara: Ebony magazine editor in chief Amy Barnett.
The show I’m embarrassed to admit I watch:
Salim: Flipping Out on Bravo.
Mara: SpongeBob SquarePants.
The three things I need in order to write:
Salim: San Pellegrino, a full tank of gas and Miles Davis.
Mara: A Paper Mate Sharpwriter mechanical pencil, an empty e-mail inbox and Fat Uncle Farms coconut almonds.
If I could scrub one job from my résumé, it would be:
Salim: Mortuary attendant.
Mara: Temp worker.
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