Television producer and director Ryan Murphy, who just signed a $300 million deal with Netflix, suffers from “restlessness and ambition and too much passion, I think.
“It’s the thing that tortures me, and yet it’s the thing that gave me my life,” he said at talk in Los Angeles hosted by the Hollywood Radio and Television Society and moderated by investigative journalist Ronan Farrow, who won a Pulitzer for his work on the Harvey Weinstein accusations sexual assault accusations.
Murphy has been the prolific force behind such series as Glee, The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story, American Horror Story and currently FX’s Pose —featuring a LGBTQ cast and a show that he called, “the highlight of my career.”
Now a seasoned Hollywood producer, Murphy said he’s no longer interested in the “shock value” around sexualtiy and violence, or seeing how far he can push the envelope.
Instead, his focus for the next 15 or so years is on “showrunner advocacy.”
“The new thing I’m doing is working with younger collaborators; people outside the system and trying to get them inside the system,” he said.
Pose is a great example of this,
“Many of the actors had never been on a soundstage, never been in front of a camera, didn’t know what a mark was,” he said. “It was very overwhelming for them to be seen for the first time in their lives.”
For Murphy, a gay man growing up in the ‘70s and ‘80s, he wants to give kids what he didn’t have: the ability to watch a show and see a part of their own experience reflected back at them in a way that will hopefully help them navigate their place in the world.
“It’s a very powerful thing,” he said.
In that same vein, Murphy spoke about his Half Foundation, an initiative to increase the number of women and minorities in Hollywood. His company has surpassed the 50 percent mark, and is now around 65 percent, while continuing that same effort among members of the crew.
“For me, it’s the best thing I ever did, and i’m very appalled it took so long for me to figure it out,” he said.
The past year has seen a lot of changes, Murphy said, especially around movements such as #MeToo, and referred to our time now as an “age of enlightenment.”
“There’s a lot of conversation about what is the new normal, and acceptability,” he said. “Before, no one ever talked about these things.”
From a television perceptive, he also believes that over the past five years, ‘the middle part of the business is eroding.”
There are “big, hulking brands and people who can push things through the system,” as well as quiet, smaller, personal stories which are being told now.” But “the middle part of the business seems to be falling away.”
So while go big, or find a niche seems to be the lesson, In terms of what’s next—in terms of the stories that aren’t being told, Murphy says he doesn’t really know.
But he looks to those younger than him, such as Pose co-creator Steven Canals, for inspiration.
“What’s his next show that he wants to write?” Murphy asked. “Someone who thought he would never be at the table. That’s the generation we’re going to see that from. Not my generation.”
[Photo: Getty Images]