Showrunners 2012: 'Modern Family's' Chris Lloyd

Christopher Lloyd

BIGGEST MISSTEP: Not hosting an ABC comedy panel. It's never a bad idea to remind the media what you're good at. "Modern Family's" Steven Levitan and Christopher Lloyd attended, but were left to chat with reporters on their own.

What job would he rather delegate? "Extras casting and award shows," says the EP who traditionally skips the Emmys.

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. 

Chris Lloyd, Modern Family (ABC)

The show that inspired me to write:
Lloyd: Cheers. Deeply funny with warm, affecting characters  -- watching it I felt like a kid watching a magic trick for the first time and desperately wanting to know how it was done.

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

My big break:
Lloyd: The Golden Girls

My TV mentor:
Lloyd: My father, [David Lloyd], a veteran comedy writer who was smart and funny, in that order, and taught me that good shows can be those things too.

My proudest accomplishment this year:
Lloyd: Resisting the urge to write to the pajama-wearing, Mom's-basement-dwelling online critic who found it "bizarre, just bizarre" and "another sad sign of the show's decline" that Cam and Mitchell didn't appear in an episode until after the first commercial.

My toughest scene to write this year:
Lloyd: Writing a story about a child confronting the death of a friend (Luke loses his elderly neighbor Walt) in a way that wasn't preachy or special but funny, small, and real.

PHOTOS: At the Dinner Table With the Cast of 'Modern Family'

The most absurd note I’ve ever gotten:
Lloyd: Having worked for a year at the death-to-funny-things Fox network, space restrictions do not permit a full accounting here.

The part of my job as showrunner that I wish I could delegate:
Lloyd: Extras casting and award shows.

My preferred method for breaking through writer’s block:
Lloyd: Going for a run or getting angry, usually both.