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Conversations with the players who made the best TV of the decade

Shaun Harrison
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1 of 9 Jim Spellman/WireImage.com; Todd Williamson/WireImage.com; Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage.com

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The 2000s will go down as the second Golden Age of Televison. Cable brought us rule-breaking series that challenged everything, from what we expect from our heroes to how their stories are told. Networks produced some of the most addictive series in years. And TV personalities merged information and entertainment as never before.
2 of 9 George Pimentel/WireImage.com

The Polymath: J.J. Abrams

Abrams is in the mind-blowing business, and he did it again and again this decade. He manipulated spy convention with Alias, then spawned the most intricate show on the air from the simplest of concepts with Lost. He ended the decade with Fringe, and oh yeah, Star Trek — maybe the best TV reboot ever. Read our Q&A with Abrams here.
3 of 9 Joe Kohen/WireImage.com

The Brand Manager: Dick Wolf

Law and Order's compulsive watchability springs from the most efficient formula on television: it's a legal show and cop show in one. Its beauty is in its simple structure — which couldn't be more solid. Read our Q&A with Wolf here.
4 of 9 Jeff Vespa/WireImage.com

The Perfectionist: Matthew Weiner

In Mad Men, the former Sopranos scribe has created a show about capitalism, consumption, and careerism at their highest and lowest. It's an incisive look at American history, but that's just a bonus. It's main selling point would be obvious to any ad man: Sex. Read our Q&A with Weiner here.
5 of 9 Bill McClelland/FilmMagic.com

The Bookworms: Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse

With Lost, Lindelof and Cuse have helmed a series that could be equally classified as sci-fi, fantasy, drama, romance, or comedy — but at its heart, it's a mystery. These are the guys who know all the secrets, and have to keep them straight. Read our Q&A with Lindelof and Cuse here.
6 of 9 M. Phillips/WireImage.com

The Humanist: Shonda Rhimes

She's one of very few African American female showrunners, but Rhimes insists that her shows — Grey's Anatomy and Private Practice — are about universality. Whether you're black or white, male or female, gay or straight, her writerly eye sees the human — flaws and all.Read our Q&A with Rhimes here.
7 of 9 Jemal Countess/WireImage.com

The Reporter: David Simon

Simon doesn't have a lot of time for exposition, toning things down, or any of the other storytelling sacrifices we always hear TV shows have to make to survive. The Wire was like Simon's characters: It expected you to hang on its terms. We did. Read our Q&A with Simon here.
8 of 9 Mike Coppola/FilmMagic.com

The Dramatist: Aaron Sorkin

With the The West Wing, Aaron Sorkin walk-and-talks us through all the major political issues of our time with verve. No one mixes politics and entertainment so fluidly. Read our Q&A with Sorkin here.
9 of 9 Chris Polk/FilmMagic.com

The Groundbreaker: Shawn Ryan

Ryan and The Shield set the bar for basic cable dramas, and proved they could be as good — or better — than anything else on TV. Read our Q&A with Ryan here.