Forget Breakfast – Lunch is a TV Writer’s Most Important Meal of the Day

They say an army travels on its stomach. What does an army of writers travel on? (No, the answer isn’t ego, sorry.)

Food Fight: Hollywood Writers Pick Sides Over Ordering Lunch – by Josh Lurie

The average TV showrunner has a thousand decisions to make on any given day, from script and costumes to casting and music. Some handle it with grace, others with … well, less than grace. But one thing is certain: If you mess with their lunch, you will get stabbed in the neck with a Sharpie.

Spending 16 hermetic hours a day in a writers room easily qualifies as one of the most stressful jobs in Hollywood. So the arrival of lunch can be the alpha and the omega, the carrot and the stick, its own little holiday wedged in the middle of every day. “Food is very important to these people,” says Torrey Speer, a writers production assistant on NBC’s Parenthood. “When you mess it up, it kills your soul.”

The way it works is pretty simple: The writers production assistant is usually the Keeper of the Binder, a nigh-holy collection of menus from restaurants near and far. Every day, around late morning, the sacred text is brought into the writers room and negotiations begin, often coming down to the midday wire with vetoes, counter-offers and cataloging of special requests. “We would deliberate that as hard as any storyline or joke,” says Everybody Loves Raymond creator Phil Rosenthal, who kept two whiteboards on the writers-room wall, one for ideas and one for menu choices. He even named his production company Where’s Lunch.

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Hey, Torrey Speer, if you think not getting the right lunch “kills your soul,” you probably deserve that wrong lunch much more than you know. Just sayin’, ya know?