Good luck finding Jonnie Davis, 20th Century Fox TV’s president of creative affairs, actually ever sitting in his office.
“I have ants in my pants,” admits Davis, who more often than not, can be found roaming the halls of the studio’s expansive suite on the Century City lot. “Like a doctor who goes into every room and looks at patients, I like to get up and walk through the drama and comedy departments and poke my head in. The thought of sitting in a chair answering emails is way too claustrophobic.”
But when he does settle down behind his desk, he admits it can look a bit like a hurricane. “It’s a reflection of energy and imagination,” he says. “No matter what this business does to you, you can’t lose your focus on having your imagination.”
Two photos hang on his wall, souvenirs from a trip to Wimbledon: Jimmy Connors diving for a shot; on the opposite wall, it’s John McEnroe. “What I came to love about these photos is how they relate to our business,” says Davis. “There’s no going back when you dive. But that’s when the big hits happen.”
Sitting innocently on his desk is a pair of brass knuckles, a long-ago present from a producer. Davis was a little worried when he got them: “#1: Are they illegal? And #2: My name’s engraved on them!” Now he says he laughs at them. “They remind me to push. When you believe in an idea, don’t let it go.” Plus he says, “I’m the least violent person in the world, but if people threaten to leave 20th, I can always use the brass knuckles.”
Yes, that’s his face on a pillow. There’s also a blanket with his mug on it, hidden in a cupboard. “I’m not a narcissist!” he swears. They’re all gifts from the exec team at ABC (home of Fox-produced “Modern Family”) for every promotion he’s gotten. “Even my mother would think it’s too much!” But he keeps them around as a reminder to laugh at himself. “Have a sense of humor, and don’t take yourself too seriously. It keeps it all real.”