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Cookie-cutter work spaces? Not for these five behind-the-scenes show creators, whose private spaces reveal peeks into their psyches (Kurt Sutter’s real angry bird) and kooky passions (Elizabeth Meriwether loves “Law & Order: SVU”?!).
The CW’s Gossip Girl, Hart of Dixie
Savage’s office on the Warner Bros. lot is a tribute to what she and longtime producing partner Josh Schwartz have built. Historically, the duo, who met on The O.C. and maintain separate work spaces, has been somewhat superstitious about laying down roots. “If you were on the set of our movie Fun Size this summer, you would have seen my office had a binder, a calculator and a Diet Coke in it, and that was it,” jokes the single Canada native, 42. “But it was something with starting [their production company] Fake Empire [in 2010] and wanting to feel like it was going to be around for a while that we decided to invest in this space and make it feel like home.” In addition to furniture from Savage and Schwartz’s past, the office, which she has had for about two years, features a framed call sheet from Gossip Girl‘s Paris episode, a proclamation from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg declaring Jan. 26, 2012, as Gossip Girl Day and a rejected “borderline pornography” Gossip Girl ad. Laughs Savage, “This was the one poster the network decided was too edgy.”
- The Wall of Ink: Behind Savage’s desk is a wall lined with magazine covers featuring Gossip Girl, a reminder of the series’ “popular cultural significance.” She has an O.C. wall and is working on a Hart of Dixie montage.
Gossip Girl, Hart of Dixie
Schwartz recalls being in his Warners office when it was occupied by The West Wing producer Thomas Schlamme. “The bookcase was lined with Emmys then,” he sighs, adding, “I haven’t brought any Emmys here, but I do have a Stormtrooper helmet and a gumball machine.” What Schwartz’s shows — The O.C., Chuck, Gossip Girl — have lacked in Emmy acclaim, they have more than made up for in pop-culture status, as evidenced by the magazine covers and Teen Choice Awards on display. They’re joined by The Breakfast Club art (a gift from Savage), a Goonies action figure (from O.C. and Hart of Dixie star Rachel Bilson) and a picture of Schwartz with his idol, Steven Spielberg. Schwartz, 35, got his first recognition for writing at age 7, when he won a camp contest for his review of Gremlins: “Most kids wrote, ‘I love sailing,’ or, ‘Soccer is neat.’ The opening line of my essay was, ‘Spielberg has done it again.’ ”
The Force Is With Him: The official Stormtrooper helmet was a present from Lucasfilm after George Lucas appeared as himself in an episode of The O.C. Jokes Schwartz, “I wear it to intimidate people in budget meetings.”
- A Sweet Past: The gumball machine was a gift to Schwartz from Warner Bros. the first year The O.C. was on the air. “The gumballs remain from that era,” he says, “so I would not recommend anyone try them.”
AMC’s Mad Men
“It feels like a professor’s office,” says Weiner, 46, of his tchotchke-filled office in downtown Los Angeles. Behind the Mad Men creator’s desk, at which a writer’s assistant sits when Weiner is penning scripts (he prefers the couch), is a collection of mementos. Among them: artwork from his four boys, a Sterling Cooper floor plan and particularly meaningful pages from Mad Men scripts. Nearby is a framed congratulatory letter from Norman Lear, which the producer sent following Weiner’s fourth best drama Emmy win for AMC’s hit show. “When he sent me that, I don’t think he expected me to frame it, but I love looking at it every day,” says Weiner, who also keeps a gavel he received after he and his cast rang the bell at the New York Stock Exchange ahead of the show’s fifth-season premiere; his college poetry thesis; and a fully stocked bar. “I’m an enabler,” he jokes. “Anyone who comes in here can have a drink.”
Fox’s New Girl
“It’s sad, but I live here,” says Meriwether of her office on the 20th Century Fox lot. The single, 30-year-old creator of the Fox breakout freshman comedy New Girl keeps a sleeping bag by her desk, which the still-green writer-producer admits she uses more than is healthy. For Christmas, the showrunners on her Zooey Deschanel star vehicle, Dave Finkel and Brett Baer, presented Meriwether with a supply of pajamas and extra clothes, so at least she’s prepared for a sleepover. The rest of the space is filled with gifts (a framed copy of her company’s Post-it note logo), goofy odds and ends (a Justin Bieber toothbrush) and several boxes of Girl Scout cookies. Deadpans the Yale graduate in a self-deprecating tone reminiscent of New Girl‘s central character, “I started out acting, but then I decided to eat.”
Woman at Work: The traffic sign, which Meriwether had removed from the set of New Girl‘s pilot, was another 30th birthday present from her line producer. The entire cast and crew signed it.
- “The Best Ever”: A gift from a friend before she started shooting the New Girl pilot. Engraved are the words “The best ever.” Meriwether acknowledges she has found a use for it: “I fill it with food, obviously.”
FX’s Sons of Anarchy
Most people would bury deep in a drawer any history of a written reprimand from HR. Not Sutter, who proudly displays a “hostile work environment” claim from Fox — in response to an angry e-mail he fired off — framed on his wall. Indeed, the Sons of Anarchy creator has a North Hollywood work space as deliciously twisted as his Twitter feed: A collection of skulls and “anarchy” dolls adorn the room, death- and evil-themed books line the shelves, and there is often a chirping bird seated on the producer’s desk. “I had canaries that didn’t do very well, so I upgraded to a cockatiel,” jokes Sutter, 48, who recently inked a lucrative overall deal with 20th Century Fox TV, of his workday pet. “This bird is like one of my f–in’ kids. It’s hard for me to talk to people because he doesn’t like me focusing on anybody but him.”
Pop Art Habit: Sutter doesn’t consider himself a major collector, but he acknowledges he has “hundreds” of artist Frank Kozik’s Smorkin’ Labbit pieces, including this stool.
- The Big Book of Breasts: Sitting on his vintage chest are a couple of coffee table books, including one from his wife, Katey Sagal, titled The Big Book of Breasts. Quips Sutter, “She knows me well.”
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