Showrunners 2012: 'Veep's' Armando Iannucci

"I hate being called executive producer. I much prefer 'Maker of Funny Stuff.'"

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. 

Armando Iannucci, Veep (HBO)

The show that inspired me to write:
Iannucci: Monty Python's Flying Circus. It was, and still is, the most conclusive proof that comic writing can take you anywhere.

My big break:
Iannucci: Writing with Chris Morris and Steve Coogan our own radio show, On The Hour, which then became a BBC TV show, The Day Today.

My TV mentor:
Iannucci: John Lloyd is a great British TV comedy producer, starting Spitting Image, Black Adder with Rowan Atkinson, and many, many other seminal shows.  I've always admired the care he takes to get every show absolutely right.

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

My proudest accomplishment this year:
Iannucci: Getting Veep made with HBO exactly the way I wanted it, and getting the first season recognized with the Emmy nominations.

My toughest scene to write this year:
Iannucci: It was actually three scenes. In the final episode of Veep, Selina [Julia Louis-Dreyfus] has to cry three times in three different ways, and they all have to be believable.  We spent a lot of time on those ones.

The most absurd note I’ve ever gotten:
Iannucci: I did a pilot for the BBC, and BBC2 said, “We love it, but maybe it's more BBC3.” I took it to BBC3, who said, “It's hysterical, but maybe it's more BBC4” and BBC4 then said, “This is great, but would be better for BBC2.” It never got picked up.

The one aspect of my job as showrunner that I’d rather delegate:
Iannucci: Typing. Especially on an iPad. I need someone with much thinner fingers to come and work for me. 

My preferred method for breaking through writer's block:
Iannucci: Get another writer in the room, or on the phone. Always, always works.

If I could add any one writer to our staff, it would be:
Iannucci: Woody Allen. I'd like to see his gossip pieces, and his opinions on Hollywood real estate.

The show I’m embarrassed to admit I watch:
Iannucci: Help, My Sister's A Pope!

The three things I need in order to write:
Iannucci: A deadline, an actual deadline, and then the real deadline.

If I could scrub one credit from my resume, it would be:
Iannucci: I hate being called executive producer. I much prefer "Maker of Funny Stuff."