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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 TV show that inspired me to write:
Wells: Hill Street Blues. The multiple-layered story, as well as the human element and drama, were all a revelation. It was the first time I realized episodic television could tackle the same complex themes that the films of the late ’70s and early ’80s wereattempting.
My big break:
Wells: Shell Game for Warner Bros. with Marg Helgenberger and Margot Kidder. It was an unsuccessful attempt to knock off Moonlighting and my first script upheld the unsuccessful nature of that attempted mimicry. Although, with that experience, I met several other wonderful writers that have been important to me, including my great friend and one of my mentors, John Wirth.
The most absurd note I’ve ever gotten:
Wells: “Can’t the president be an ex-pro wrestler? Like that guy in Minnesota. Everybody loves that guy.” You can’t make this stuff up.
My preferred method for breaking through writers’ block:
Wells: Just start writing.
The three things I need in order to write:
Wells: Time, inspiration and a power cord.
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