Carlton Cuse, Shawn Ryan and Fastfood Flashbacks
Lost executive producer Carlton Cuse had the kind of flashback we love at Mel’s Diner the other day during a phone interview. I called him to talk about Lie to Me showrunner and The Shield creator Shawn Ryan, who we featured in B&C’s Fifth Estater column Sept. 21 (Related: The Truth About Shawn Ryan)
Cuse gave Ryan his first staff writing job, on Cuse-created CBS drama Nash Bridges. Cuse told me how immediately impressed he was with Ryan and the Larry Sanders script he submitted for consideration on the staff of the comedic drama. “I read it and it wasn’t just good, it was great. I met him and on top of his kind of tremendous writing chops he was also really personable,” Cuse said of Ryan. “Hiring him was a very simple decision.”
Fans know Ryan’s voice more for the gritty drama of The Shield, but Cuse insists he’s also hilarious. “He always kept us all really entertained,” Cuse says, remembering one more thing about the days on Nash: “Also, Shawn has an amazing penchant for fast food. It was always kind of hard for Shawn not to find a fast food he does not love.”
It’s true, Ryan says. “There weren’t a lot of great restaurants growing up in Rockford, which is one thing Money magazine always docked us for,” Ryan says of the Illinois town where he was raised. When he was a kid, Money often listed Rockford as one of the worst places in the country to live. Ryan loved it.
He was active in sports and theater in Rockford and his dedicated parents drove the kids all around to their activities. “Lots of times all we had to choose was the McDonald’s drive-through,” Ryan said. “Certainly an army moves on its stomach and I think a writer staff does the same thing.”
Ryan says he’s trying to eat healthier these days but the night before our chat he made his family drive an extra 20 minutes to a quick stop in Burbank he favors, Market City Café. “I had a hankering for it,” he says. “Luckily my wife and kids put up with that!”