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Dec 10, 2014 9:22 PM

6 show-runners who've made their mark in TV

The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) Six TV show-runners who've developed a following.

Just the mention of the mantra "Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose" makes a "Friday Night Lights" fan gush. Thank Jason Katims for that. He was the head writer and executive producer of the TV series that aired for five seasons until 2011. The show famously struggled in ratings but its fan base remains strong, loyal and devoted. Katims went on to helm another drama (and tearjerker), NBC's "Parenthood," which will air its series finale next year.

Amy Sherman-Palladino created the mother-daughter dramedy "Gilmore Girls" starring Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel in 2000. She's known for snappy writing, lots of dialogue and pop culture references. Sherman-Palladino and her husband Daniel (who also served as a producer, director and writer) left the series after six seasons because of a botched contract renegotiation. The show remained on the air for one more season and fans still want proper closure (or a movie).

Steve Levitan's award show acceptance speeches have become legendary. When he won an Emmy in 2011 for outstanding comedy series writing, the camera showed his wife in the audience each time he mentioned her in his speech. When he won a directing Emmy in 2012, he began his speech, "First of all, I want to thank me for hiring me as a director when no one else would. I wouldn't be standing here without my faith in me." When Sofia Vergara spoke Spanish while accepting the "Modern Family" Golden Globe for best TV series comedy, Levitan translated her speech "Thank you to the 'Modern Family' writers who are so funny and so sexy. ... They may look pasty and nervous and out of shape but they're the greatest lovers I've ever had."

Joss Whedon created TV shows like "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," ''Firefly" and "Dollhouse." He's one of those show-runners whose name alone guarantees a following.

Rob Thomas made history when he helped launch a successful 2013 Kickstarter campaign to fund a "Veronica Mars" movie, taking place nine years after the events of the series finale. Next up: His TV series "iZombie" premieres next year on The CW.

Jenji Kohan created "Orange is the New Black," based on a memoir of the same name, for Netflix. It follows a women's federal prison with a diverse cast of actresses. Its third season premieres next year.


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