Showrunners 2012: 'The Mentalist's' Bruno Heller

Bruno Heller Headshot - P 2012
Courtesy of CBS

Bruno Heller Headshot - P 2012

Heller talks about who has the industry's best ears for a pitch, the BBC show that inspires him and his love of "Storage Wars."

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. 

THR's Top 50 Showrunners 2012 -- the Complete List

BRUNO HELLER, 52, The Mentalist (CBS), creator/EP/showrunner (5 years)

The show that inspired me to write:
Heller: [The BBC series] Boys from the Blackstuff by Alan Bleasdale.

My TV mentor:
Heller: [Warner Bros. TV president] Peter Roth. He has the best ears for a pitch out of anyone in Los Angeles. If you can sell what you are selling to Peter you can sell it to anyone.

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The most absurd note I’ve ever gotten: 
Heller: Peter Roth told me, “You said it was a romantic comedy but it wasn't romantic and it wasn't comic."

The one aspect of my job as showrunner that I’d rather delegate:
Heller: Firing people.

My preferred method for breaking through writers’ block:
Heller: Network TV deadlines.

The show I’m embarrassed to admit I watch:
Heller: [A&E’s] Storage Wars. It is the nearest thing to the relaxing experience of fishing in an empty river that television can provide.