Tag: ryan murphy

The Politician (Netflix) pilot preview: Do you miss Glee? Ryan Murphy does apparently…

SERIES TITLE: The Politician
NETWORK: Netflix
GENRE: Political One-Hour Dramedy

LOGLINE:  The political aspirations of Payton, a wealthy Santa Barbarian who’s ultimate goal is to become the President of the United States, one step at a time. And for now, he needs to a/ become the student body president of his college b/ be accepted to Harvard. To achieve that, he’s ready for anything. Literally.

Pilot Cast: Ben Platt, Zoey Deutch, Lucy Boynton, Jessica Lange, Gwyneth Paltrow, January Jones, Dylan McDermott, Laura Dreyfuss, Rhane Jones…
Series Creators: Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuck & Ian Brennan (American Horror Story, Pose, 9-1-1, Glee).
Pilot Director: Ryan Murphy.
Producers: Gwyneth Paltrow, Ben Platt, Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuck & Ian Brennan.
Studios: Fox 21 Television Studios

Ever wonder how TV executives wade through the dozens of pilot scripts they’re pitched each year? They have staff script readers, who provide what’s called “Script Coverage,” an executive summary and a recommendation for each script. Now you too can preview some of the season’s most buzzed about pilots and find out whether we’d recommend them for pickup. Note that all opinions are our own, and all plot, casting and other creative details described here are subject to change.




WRITTEN BY: Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuck & Ian Brennan.

PAGECOUNT: 68 pages

BACKGROUND: A few months before mega TV producer Ryan Murphy left 20th Century FOX Television for Netflix in what is believed to be the biggest TV pact ever, the streaming giant granted him a rare two-season straight-to-series order for The Politician, one of the biggest TV package sales of 2018. Everything’s BIG when it comes to Murphy, it seems. At the time, Barbra Streisand was set to play one of the female leads but Murphy stalwart Jessica Lange has since stepped into her role for unknown reasons. Described as “a one-hour long comedy with social commentary”, The Politicanwill focus on a different political race each season. Word has it that straight-from-Broadway series star Ben Platt will have musical numbers in several episodes of the show, but other details have been kept tightly under wraps. With a copy of the pilot script in hand, let’s see if we can’t unwrap them a little…

SCRIPT SYNOPSIS: Two great looking 17-year-olds are making out in an upscale house in Santa Barbara, California. Meet River and his girlfriend Astrid. While on the surface, things may seem hot between them, something doesn’t seem quite right. Turns out Astrid is faking it. When River asks her why, she explains that she’s madly in love with him and doesn’t expect him to be perfect in bed because of his young age and lack of experience. After she leaves, a clearly upset River goes to his father’s office and opens a safe where there’s cash, jewelry and a gun. Then he goes back to his bedroom, looks around, and puts the gun in his mouth.

At that very moment he hears a car screech, followed by someone banging on his front door. In comes Payton, our leading man, filled with rage, tears streaking down his face. After calling River a traitor, he reveals the reason he’s there: he’s just learned that River is competing against him to become the student body president of their college. He warns him that this is HIS dream, that he is A WINNER and that he will win this at all costs. River is mortified, and so are we.

COMMENTS: So this is the project that Netfix won in a high stakes bidding war against Amazon and Hulu. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised — they all wanted a Ryan Murphy show. The problem is, while this is indeed a Ryan Murphy show, it isn’t American Horror StoryAmerican Crime Story, or Feud. Instead, alongside frequent collaborators Brad Falchuck & Ian Brennan, Murphy has returned to the mileu of one of his earlier series: Glee. To be fair, The Politician is bit more adult-oriented than Glee — after all, the characters are not in high-school. But what happens in their Santa Barbara college could just as well have happened at McKinley High. In fact, many of it did. Payton, the central character, is our new Rachel Berry: ambitious and opinionated, his goal isn’t to become the best singer in the world, but instead the President of the United States.

The Glee feeling doesn’t end there. It becomes even more pronounced when Payton starts looking for the perfect Vice-President from a shortlist of disabled and the minority classmates. Oh, and did I mention he sings, too? He performs a musical number at a funeral and it’s apparently the best thing ever. (In the script, he sings Joni Mitchell’s River. We’ll see if that one sticks.) Most of the other characters are caricatures: the witty best friend, the bitchy one, etc. Astrid, who’s Payton’s nemesis, is a bit more fleshed out, and should become even more important in later episodes since she’s not just River’s girlfriend (no spoilers here). Finally, there’s Infinity Rose — yep, that’s her name — a colorfurl girl who has cancer…. all different kinds of cancer, to be precise. Payton wants her as his VP, but she’s not interested, at least not for now. But she clearly has some tricks up her sleeve.

The Politician does have some things to say about politics, ambition and young people, but it doesn’t say them in a way that’s innovative or smart, and it’s hard to take it very seriously when so much of what happens is ripped from earlier Murphy shows. (There are some parallels with Murphy’s Scream Queens here, too.) What’s the point of going to Netflix if it’s to do exactly the same thing he did on FOX? I mean.. The Politician is occasionally irreverent and raunchy (there’s a threesome, you guys!) but there’s nothing here that Murphy and team couldn’t have achieved on network television.

FINAL RECOMMENDATION: It’s not the most imaginative or well-crafted of pilot scripts, and if it aired on FOX or FX I’m guessing The Politician would be dead on arrival. But with a two-season commitment from Netflix, with all of its algorithms and a binge-ready audience, it might just work. In fact, despite all of my own misgivings with the project, I can still see myself tuning in to see how it all plays out.



[   ] PASS

SCOOP: Ryan Murphy working on a “X-Files-esque” Bermuda Triangle drama for NBC

HOLLYWOOD, CA - OCTOBER 05: Ryan Murphy arrives at the Los Angeles Premiere "American Horror Story: Freak Show" at TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX on October 5, 2014 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)


UPDATE: Turns out it’s not THE Ryan Murphy, but another one who just wrote an episode of Stan Against Evil, and that’s pretty much all. Less exciting suddenly. Sorry for the mix-up.

In a surprising and unusual move, Ryan Murphy is developing a show outside of his 20th Century FOX rich overall deal about the Bermuda Triangle mystery for NBCUniversal…

Some may remember the 2005 three-part miniseries The Triangle starring Sam Neil & Eric Stoltz, a coproduction between SyFy & the BBC, or the excellent The X-Files episode (season 6, episode 3). NBC is now taking their stab at the cult mystery with overarchiever Ryan Murphy, already behind American Horror Story, American Crime Story (two editions are coming in 2017) & upcoming Feud (while Scream Queens should be cancelled). He’s developing his own version with Guy Busick (Desire), which he will produce alongside Brooke Kennedy (The Good Wife, Fringe, Braindead) & Andrew Stearn (Gypsy, Shameless US, Animal Kingdom, SouthLAnd). The project is partly based in the UK with Working Title Television, Ryan Murphy Productions & NBCUniversal International Studios working side by side.

Triangle is centered around ex-lovers Wes Fallon and Marti Estevez, who are under the authority of the US government, investigating the bizarre phenomena associated with the Bermuda Triangle while searching for clues to the fate of Wes’s brother and Marti’s new husband, Tom Fallon, who mysteriously disappeared there… There’s definitely a X-Files vibe in there!

SCOOP: Ryan Murphy’s working on yet another show called “Feud”

Ryan Murphy of “The Normal Heart” accept the award for outstanding television movie at the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on Monday, Aug. 25, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Vince Bucci/Invision for the Television Academy/AP Images)


On top of American Horror Story, American Crime Story, Scream Queens -all three of them renewed for another round- always buzzy Ryan Murphy is expected to add another series to his plate named Feud, which totally sounds like a Murphy show indeed…

Possibly envisioned as an anthology series with a new “feud” at the center of every season, the period drama is the result of a new collaboration between Ryan Murphy Productions (based at 20th Century FOX Television where Murphy is under an overall deal) and Bratt Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment, after HBO Emmy winning movie The Normal Heart in 2014. The first season revolves around the true story of the infamous career-long battle between screen legends Joan Crawford and Bette Davis, focusing on the on-set experience of the only film they ever made together : Whatever happened to Baby Jane.

Plan B’s Dede Gardner is producing alongside Murphy and Murphy’s frequent collaborator Alexis Martin Woodall, with a pilot script written by playwright Michael Zam & comedian Jaffe Cohen, who are also penning together the movie Kate, about Katherine Hepburn as a young actress trying to make her way in Hollywood. No cable/streaming platform is attached to the shopped-around project at this point but pre-production has already started for a July start. And something tells me it wouldn’t be far-fetched to imagine Jessica Lange in one of the roles…

American Crime Story: The People Vs. O.J. Simpson (FX) preview: Ryan Murphy’s safest work yet?


Pilot “From the Ashes of Tragedy” & Episode two “The Run of His Life” written & produced by Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszweski (Problem Child, Ed Wood, The People Vs. Larry Flint, Big Eyes). Co-produced by Ryan Murphy (American Horror Story, Glee, Nip/Tuck), Dante DiLoreto, Brad Falchuck, Nina Jacobson, Brad Simpson & John Travolta. Based on novel “The Run of His Life” by Jeffrey Toobin. Directed by Ryan Murphy. For FX, 20th Century FOX Television, Ryan Murphy Productions & Brad Falchuck Teleyvision. 61 pages & 54 pages.

Description: On June 12, 1994, Nicole Brown and Ronald Goldman are found stabbed to death outside in Los Angeles. American football player O.J. Simpson is quickly considered as a person of interest in their murders. On June 17, after failing to turn himself in, he becomes the object of a low-speed car pursuit. The pursuit, arrest, and trial were among the most widely publicized events in American history…

With Cuba Gooding Jr. as O.J. Simpson, Sarah Paulson as Marcia Clark, John Travolta as Robert Shapiro, David Schwimmer as Robert Kardashian, Courtney B. Vance as Johnnie Cochran, Jordana Brewster as Denise Brown, Billy Magnussen as Kato Kaelin, Selma Blair as Kris Jenner, Connie Britton as Faye Resnick, Steven Pasquale as Mark Furhman, and Cheryl Ladd, Bruce Greenwood, Malcolm Jamal-Warner, Evan Handler, Sterling K. Brown, Kenneth Choi


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Whether you like him or not, every season is Ryan Murphy’s season for the past decade and next season may be his biggest one ever! Of course, American Horror Story will be back, minus Jessica Lange but with Lady Gaga for her very first starring role; meanwhile, he’s gonna launch Scream Queens aka American Horror Story meets Glee, minus the songs, which is expected to get a lot of buzz and hopefully substantial ratings for dying FOX; and in early 2016 he’ll bring American Crime Story, that could become HUGE for FX! The anthology series promises to explore a new real-life crime every year and Murphy decided to start big with the infamous O.J. Simpson trial that kept America breathless for months right in the middle of the 90s. It was tragic, fascinating and it is considered as the beginning of the modern tabloid age, at least in America. It also brought the Kardashian family to the world. And that’s… well… a curse for humanity we never recovered from.

Based on a book that was first published a few years later, in 1997, The People Vs. OJ Simpson doesn’t take any risks. The story as it is doesn’t need to be altered in any way (and I’m pretty sure they couldn’t do it even if they wanted to). It’s gold and it shows very quickly in the pilot script. It starts with real archive footage from the L.A. riots of 1992 when furious african-americans tore the city apart after another one of their own was beaten to death by LAPD cops, apparently for no reason. Then, cut to two years later, we’re by OJ’s side for the first time, a very nervous OJ sweating in his limousine, while a dogwalker is discovering the dead bodies of his ex-wife and fiancé in front of their house in another neighborhood. We’ve got everything we need to know in three minutes or so: OJ’s obvious guiltiness for a crime he must have committed (83% of Americans think he did it) and social context of the time, which sadly still resonates in 2015 with the Ferguson scandal, the riots in Baltimore… 20 years later, things haven’t change that much. The whole season, as the first two episodes make it clear, won’t only tell the story of the investigation, that was full of twists and turns and can only transform into great TV, it will also explain how OJ’s lawyers used the race factor to exonerate their client: he was surprisingly found not guilty (sorry to spoil those who didn’t know). And that’s ambitious, especially for only 10 episodes (with the second one being a crazy car chase “The Superbowl of car case” when OJ disappeared instead of showing up to the police).

We’ve got multiple perspectives. From the cops first, with the leading investigator being a woman -played by Sarah Paulson- who has a lot on her plate: she’s in the middle of a nasty divorce, she needs to prove to the men around her that she’s as capable as they are, if not more, and she needs to show to the people of Los Angeles that even a rich person cannot get away with murder, in order to restore faith in LAPD. Then from OJ’s defense team, with Robert Shapiro (John Travolta), a lawyer specialized in criminal defense AND celebrities, who doesn’t play by the rules and who is very good at manipulating everybody, so good he’s fascinating; Robert Kardashian (David Schwimmer) who is a defense attorney but OJ Simpson’ best friend first. He was used as a volunteer assistant in the case. He’s married to Kris Jenner and he’s the father of a certain Kim… (who doesn’t show up in the first two episodes and probably won’t appear later if you’re wondering). He seems very incompetent and ridiculous at times, like this moment when he has to read a suicidal note from OJ in front of the whole press. I guess HE was really ridiculous. Or the writers want to make him look bad, and that’s disturbing. OJ looks ridiculous too, but he probably was. He acts like a scared child. My only fear is that his scenes turn out to be funny. I mean… this man did so many stupid things and mistakes… Good luck to Cuba Gooding Jr.! Last but not least: Johnnie Cochran, an African-American lawyer who’s the one who used the “race card” during the trial. We’re also introduced to reporters and OJ’s family members. There are a lot of characters but the script is written so sharply with everything happening so fast that we’re never lost and completely hooked from beginning to end.

American Crime Story: The People Vs. OJ Simpson is Ryan Murphy’s safest work since forever (but he didn’t write a thing, he’s just directing and producing). You can’t do anything with a true story, but it’s sober where they could have been more scandalous and polemic. It’s documented, precise, smartly told and it will probably be very well acted with such a terrific cast. As the OJ Simpson’s case was at the time, this show is already fascinating. How come this was never adapted into TV series before?!