Showrunners 2012: 'The Newsroom's' Aaron Sorkin

Aaron Sorkin

"Other than it being the 11th consecutive year of keeping my child alive, 'The Newsroom,'" the showrunner behind the HBO drama says of his proudest accomplishment this year.

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. 

Aaron Sorkin, Newsroom

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.

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

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.""]