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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:
Sorkin: M*A*S*H. Larry Gelbart didn’t segregate drama and comedy. There would be jokes, terror and heartbreak in the same episode.
My proudest accomplishment this year:
Sorkin: Other than it being the 11th consecutive year of keeping my child alive, The Newsroom.
My toughest scene to write this year:
Sorkin: The first scene of The Newsroom. Starting is always the hardest for me.
The most absurd note I’ve ever gotten:Sorkin: At the end of the second episode of The West Wing, a U.S. Air Force jet is shot down when it accidentally wanders into Syrian airspace. NBC got an angry letter from the Arab-American Anti-Defamation League and a few episodes later I had Toby (Richard Schiff) make a reference to Hebrew slaves in Egypt 5000 years ago I got a note from the legal department, now sensitive to the issue, asking me to show my research. So I sent them Exodus.
My preferred method for breaking through writer’s block:
Sorkin: Talking it out with the writing staff. Sometimes beating up an intern.
If I could add any one writer to my staff, it would be:
Sorkin: Rod Serling.
The show I’m embarrassed to admit I watch:
Sorkin: There’s no way to get out of this question alive.
The three I need in order to write:
Sorkin: Dr. Pepper and long stretches of solitude.
,” Sorkin says. “I don’t want to have an adversarial relationship with the press.””]
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