Ryan Murphy (writer)

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Ryan Murphy
Ryan Murphy at PaleyFest 2013.jpg
Murphy at the PaleyFest 2013 panel for The New Normal
Born Ryan Patrick Murphy
(1965-11-09) November 9, 1965 (age 51)
Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S.
Occupation Screenwriter, director, producer
Alma mater IU Bloomington
Spouse David Miller (m. 2012)
Children 2

Ryan Patrick Murphy (born November 9, 1965)[1] is an American screenwriter, director and producer. Murphy is best known for creating/co-creating/producing a number of television series including Popular (1999–2001), Nip/Tuck (2003–10), Glee (2009–15), American Horror Story (2011–present), The New Normal (2012–13), Scream Queens (2015–present), American Crime Story (2016–present), and the upcoming Feud (premiering 2017).

Early life[edit]

Murphy was born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana,[1] in an Irish Catholic family.[2][3] He attended Catholic school from first through eighth grade,[2] and graduated from Warren Central High School in Indianapolis. He has described his mother J. Andy Murphy as a "beauty queen who left it all to stay at home and take care of her two sons." She wrote five books and worked in communications for over 20 years before retiring. His father worked in the newspaper industry as a circulation director before he retired after 30 years.[4]

After coming out as gay, Murphy saw his first therapist, who found nothing wrong with him other than being "too precocious for his own good."[2][4] During a 2012 interview on Inside the Actors Studio, Murphy claimed that he secretly dated "a lot of football players" in high school.[5] He performed with a choir as a child, which would later inform his work on Glee.[2] Murphy attended Indiana University, Bloomington. While at college, he was a staff member of the school newspaper, the Indiana Daily Student, and he was a member of the school's Singing Hoosiers show choir.



Murphy started as a journalist working for The Miami Herald, Los Angeles Times, New York Daily News, Knoxville News Sentinel and Entertainment Weekly. He began scriptwriting in the late 1990s, when Steven Spielberg purchased his script Why Can't I Be Audrey Paudry?.[4]


Popular and Nip/Tuck[edit]

Murphy started his career in television with the teen comedy series Popular, which he co-created with Gina Matthews. The series premiered on The WB on September 29, 1999[6] and ran for two seasons, ending in 2001. He then created the FX drama series Nip/Tuck, which premiered on July 18, 2003. In 2004, Murphy earned his first Primetime Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series.[4] Murphy took the show's signature line, "Tell me what you don't like about yourself," from a plastic surgeon he met when he was a journalist researching an undercover story on plastic surgery in Beverly Hills. The series ended after six seasons in 2010.


On May 19, 2009, Murphy's musical comedy-drama series, Glee, premiered on Fox. He co-created the series with Brad Falchuk and Ian Brennan. In its early seasons, the show was critically lauded.[7] Murphy won his first Primetime Emmy Award for directing the pilot episode.[8] The series concluded in 2015 following its sixth season.[9] Murphy was one of four executive producers on the reality television series The Glee Project, which premiered on Oxygen on June 12, 2011.[10] The show featured a group of contestants vying for the prize of a seven-episode arc on Glee, with someone being eliminated each week, until the winner is chosen in the final episode. The show was renewed for a second season, which ended up being its last.[11]

The New Normal[edit]

Murphy and Glee co-executive producer Ali Adler created the half-hour comedy The New Normal, which premiered on NBC on September 10, 2012. The series was based on Murphy's own experiences of having a child via surrogate, with the main characters, Bryan and David, named for Ryan and his husband.[12] The series was ultimately cancelled after one season.[13]

Anthology series[edit]

Murphy and Falchuk created the anthology series American Horror Story, which premiered on FX on October 5, 2011. Some of the same cast has played different characters in a different setting each subsequent season.[14][15] In October 2014, FX greenlit a companion anthology series, American Crime Story, which Murphy and Falchuk executive produce. The series premiered on February 2, 2016.[16]

Murphy, Falchuk and Brennan next co-created the comedy-horror semi-anthology series Scream Queens, which premiered on Fox on September 22, 2015.[17] Murphy's next project, the drama anthology series Feud, will premiere on FX in 2017. The first season focuses on the rivalry between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford on the set of their 1962 film What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?.[18]

Past series
Series Original run Description Role
Popular 1999–2001 (The WB) Brooke McQueen (Leslie Bibb) and Samantha McPherson (Carly Pope), students at Jacqueline Kennedy High School, are polar opposites. Brooke is a popular cheerleader and Sam is an unpopular journalist. Their respective groups are forced to socialize when Brooke's father and Sam's mother get engaged and the two girls have to share a house. The series concluded after its second season without a proper finale. Co-creator
Nip/Tuck 2003–10 (FX) Sean McNamara (Dylan Walsh) and Christian Troy (Julian McMahon) are best friends and two prestigious plastic surgeons working in the luxurious and glamorous Miami. The work, envy, personal problems, and love intersect in their relationship making dramatic storylines. Each episode features a different operation and is titled with the name of the patient. The series ran for 100 episodes, concluding with the series finale on March 3, 2010 after six seasons. Creator
Glee 2009–15 (Fox) The series follows the William McKinley High School's glee club named New Directions located in Lima, Ohio; most of the members are on the fringes of the school's society, though a few are popular jocks and cheerleaders. The glee club is directed by teacher Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison), who falls in love with guidance counselor Emma Pillsbury (Jayma Mays). The club's lead singer, Rachel Berry (Lea Michele), starts as an egocentric sophomore who aspires to be a Broadway star, and the show follows her through show choir championships to Broadway. The series was renewed for a sixth and final season, which aired from January 9, 2015 to March 20, 2015. Co-creator
The New Normal 2012–13 (NBC) David Bartholomew Sawyer (Justin Bartha), an obstetrician, and Bryan Collins (Andrew Rannells), a television producer, are a happy gay couple in California who have everything they want, except a baby. They find Goldie (Georgia King), a mother who has left a failed marriage in Ohio, who agrees to become Bryan and David's gestational surrogate. Over the course of the pregnancy, their families become intertwined. Goldie gives birth and David and Bryan formally marry in the season one finale. The show was not renewed for a second season. Co-creator
Current series
Series Original run Description Role
American Horror Story 2011–present (FX) Murder House: The Harmon family moves from Boston to Los Angeles after the mother Vivian (Connie Britton) has a miscarriage and the father Ben (Dylan McDermott) has an affair. They are unaware that their new house is haunted by ghosts of residents who died there, which becomes further complicated when their daughter Violet Harmon (Taissa Farmiga) falls in love with the murderous Tate (Evan Peters). Their neighbor Constance Langdon (Jessica Lange) and her daughter Adelaide (Jamie Brewer) become frequent and unwelcome guests, and a former resident Larry Harvey (Denis O'Hare) who has suffered from horrible burns, begins inserting himself into the Harmons' lives.

Asylum: Kit Walker (Evan Peters) is sent to Briarcliff, a place that was bought by the Catholic Church and became an asylum for the criminally insane. He is accused of being the notorious serial killer, Bloody Face, after his wife Alma Walker (Britne Oldford) is found dead and missing her skin. Parallel to Kit's journey is that of Lana Winters (Sarah Paulson), an ambitious lesbian reporter who gets more than she bargained for when she enters Briarcliff looking for a story. Inside the asylum, they encounter the terrifying Dr. Arthur Arden (James Cromwell) and Sister Jude (Jessica Lange).

Coven: Zoe Benson (Taissa Farmiga) discovers that she is a witch after losing her virginity, and is whisked away to a mysterious school in New Orleans devoted to safeguarding her kind. There, she meets Fiona Goode (Jessica Lange), the long-absent Supreme who has a hidden agenda for the students. Zoe also meets Cordelia (Sarah Paulson), Fiona's daughter and teacher at the school, and slowly unearths the centuries-old war between voodoo priestess Marie Laveau (Angela Bassett) and the resurrected Madame Delphine LaLaurie (Kathy Bates).

Freak Show: Elsa Mars (Jessica Lange), a German woman in Jupiter, Florida, tries to revamp the public's interest in freak shows in the 1950s with a new group of freaks and oddities, primarily with the help of newfound conjoined twins Bette and Dot Tattler (Sarah Paulson). Obstacles and opposition stand in her way, chiefly in the form of the deranged Dandy Mott (Finn Wittrock).

Hotel: Detective John Lowe (Wes Bentley), an LAPD officer investigating a serial murder in Los Angeles, checks into the Hotel Cortez, which in turn is home to supernatural beings such as the elusive James Patrick March (Evan Peters) and the ghoulish addict Hypodermic Sally (Sarah Paulson). Owned by The Countess (Lady Gaga), a beautiful vampiress consumed and plagued by her various lovers, including junkie Donovan (Matt Bomer) and actress Ramona Royale (Angela Bassett), the Hotel Cortez holds the power to plunge John into insanity.

Roanoke: Set out as a reenacted-drama documentary, Shelby and Matt Miller (Sarah Paulson and Cuba Gooding Jr. in reenactment, Lily Rabe and André Holland in testimonials) move from LA to the North Carolina countryside into a large farmhouse. A colony of spirits, led by their brutal Governor, The Butcher (Kathy Bates), begin to haunt and threaten the couple. Along with Matt's recovering-alcoholic sister, Lee (Angela Bassett in reenactment, Adina Porter in testimonials), the couple uncover the murderous past of the farmhouse and meet the past owners of the house, including its wealthy, art-obsessed builder, Edward Philippe Mott (Evan Peters) and the traumatized academic, Dr. Elias Cunningham (Denis O'Hare) in a great battle against the ruthless and territorial Roanoke colony.

Scream Queens 2015–present (Fox) Season One: A college campus, run by the strong-willed Dean Cathy Munsch (Jamie Lee Curtis), is rocked by a series of murders, and follows a sorority led by the devilish Chanel Oberlin (Emma Roberts), who seem to be the primary targets of the serial killer, as they attempt to stay alive and uncover the masked killer.

Season Two: Dean Munsch, suffering from an unknown disease, purchases a hospital designed to find cures for supposedly incurable diseases, and staffs it with Chanel and the other surviving members of Kappa Kappa Tau. However, soon after reopening, a new masked serial killer appears, targeting the patients of the hospital.

American Crime Story 2016–present (FX) The People v. O. J. Simpson: Former football star O. J. Simpson (Cuba Gooding Jr.) faces trial for the murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown, and her friend, Ronald Goldman. Simpson's team of defense attorneys, including Robert Shapiro (John Travolta) and Johnnie Cochran (Courtney B. Vance), fight to exonerate him, while prosecutors Marcia Clark (Sarah Paulson) and Christopher Darden (Sterling K. Brown) attempt to prove his guilt. Executive producer

Unsold pilots[edit]

Murphy has also created/produced a couple of failed pilots. The WB sitcom pilot St. Sass, starring Delta Burke and Heather Matarazzo, was not picked up. In 2008, Murphy wrote and directed the FX pilot Pretty/Handsome, which also was not picked up.[19] In April 2013, it was announced that HBO had given a pilot order for Murphy's sexuality drama Open, which began filming in late 2013.[20] In September 2014, it was reported that HBO had opted not to pick up the pilot to series.[21]


In 2006, Murphy wrote the screenplay for and directed the feature film Running with Scissors. Based on the memoir by Augusten Burroughs, the movie version starred Annette Bening, Alec Baldwin and Brian Cox and, as the young Burroughs, Joseph Cross. In 2010, Murphy directed Julia Roberts in an adaptation of Elizabeth Gilbert's memoir Eat, Pray, Love. The film was a box office success but a critical failure, receiving harsh reviews criticizing its pacing and lack of credibility. To date, the film has grossed $204,482,125 worldwide.[22]

Murphy next directed the 2014 television film adaptation of Larry Kramer's Broadway play The Normal Heart, starring Mark Ruffalo, Roberts, Baldwin, Matt Bomer and Jim Parsons.[23] Murphy then collaborated with The Normal Heart executive producer Jason Blum to produce the remake of the cult-classic horror film The Town That Dreaded Sundown.[24] The film was the directorial debut of Alfonso Gomez-Rejon and was also released in 2014.

Murphy has several films in development: Dirty Tricks, a political comedy, One Hit Wonders, a musical comedy, and a sequel to The Normal Heart. In 2014, Murphy was developing a feature film of the life of reclusive heiress Huguette Clark, based on the bestselling book Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune.[25]

Personal life[edit]

(l-r) Governor appointee Don Norte, Glee co-creator Ryan Murphy, and Norte's husband, gay activist Kevin Norte, at Spring Time G.L.A.A.D. 2010's Charitable Event in Century City, Los Angeles, California.

Murphy grew up in a Catholic household and continues to go to church.[2][26] He serves on the National Advisory Board of the Young Storytellers Foundation. He once owned a house designed by renowned mid-century modern architect Carl Maston.[27]

Murphy has been married to photographer David Miller since July 2012.[28] On December 24, 2012, Murphy and Miller welcomed their first child, a son named Logan Phineas, via a surrogate. In October 2014, they welcomed their second son, Ford.[29]

In October 2015, Murphy received the Award of Inspiration from the Foundation for AIDS Research for his contributions to TV and film as well as his work in the fight against AIDS.[30]


Ryan Murphy has had some public arguments with famous bands and their members, including Slash from Guns N' Roses, Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters, and Kings of Leon lead singer, Caleb Followill, and drummer, Nathan Followill.[31] These arguments have stemmed from the musicians declining Murphy when asked to have their music covered on Glee.


  1. ^ a b "Ryan Murphy Biography: Screenwriter, Director, Television Producer (1965–)". Biography.com (FYI / A&E Networks). Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved February 14, 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "From Nip/Tuck to High School Glee", Fresh Air, NPR, May 19, 2009, retrieved November 25, 2009 
  3. ^ Martin, Denise (April 26, 2009). "'Glee' team rewrites the school musical". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 16, 2010. 
  4. ^ a b c d Roberts, Sheila, Ryan Murphy, Director of Running with Scissors Interview, Movies Online, retrieved November 25, 2009 
  5. ^ Ziegler, Cyd. "'Glee' creator Ryan Murphy claims he dated 'a lot of football players' in high school." Outsports.com. 2012-04-10. Retrieved 2016-04-13.
  6. ^ Bialis, Michael. "Ryan Murphy Makes His Lighthearted Plea With Glee". blogcritics.org. Retrieved October 28, 2010. 
  7. ^ Seidman, Robert (September 21, 2009). "FOX sings praises of Glee with full-season pickup". TVbytheNumbers.com. Retrieved November 26, 2009. 
  8. ^ "Glee". Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Retrieved August 10, 2011. 
  9. ^ Brown, Laurel (April 19, 2013). "'Glee' renewed for two seasons: FOX orders Season 5 and Season 6 early". Zap2it. Retrieved April 21, 2013. 
  10. ^ "Emmy® Award Winners Ryan Murphy and Dante Di Loreto Sign On To Executive Produce Oxygen's "The Glee Project"". Facebook. Retrieved January 23, 2011. 
  11. ^ "Oxygen Picks Up Second Season of Critically Acclaimed "The Glee Project," Returning Summer 2012". The Futon Critic. Oxygen. January 17, 2012. Retrieved January 21, 2012. 
  12. ^ Goldberg, Lesley (January 27, 2012). "Ryan Murphy's NBC Comedy Lands Pilot Order". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 2, 2012. 
  13. ^ Goldberg, Lesley (May 7, 2012). "NBC Gives Series Orders to Ryan Murphy Comedy, J.J. Abrams Drama". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 19, 2012. 
  14. ^ Frankel, Daniel. "'American Horror Story' gets season 2 order from FX". Reuters.com. Retrieved October 30, 2011. 
  15. ^ Mullins, Jenna (December 22, 2011). "American Horror Story Season Two Scoop: New House and (Mostly) New Faces". E! Online. Retrieved February 26, 2012. 
  16. ^ "'American Horror Story' Companion Series 'American Crime Story' From Ryan Murphy Set At FX – O.J. First Topic". Deadline.com. October 7, 2014. 
  17. ^ "Ryan Murphy & His 'Glee' Co-Creators Get Fox Series Order For Comedy-Horror Anthology 'Scream Queens'". Deadline.com. October 20, 2014. 
  18. ^ "FX Orders Ryan Murphy Anthology Series Feud, Jessica Lange & Susan Sarandon To Star In First Installment: Crawford v Davis". Deadline.com. May 5, 2016. 
  19. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (February 17, 2011). "FX Orders Pilot From Ryan Murphy & Brad Falchuk, Duo Remains Committed To 'Glee'". Deadline.com. Retrieved September 8, 2011. 
  20. ^ Andreeva, Nellie. "Ryan Murphy's Provocative Relationship Drama 'Open' Lands At HBO With Pilot Order". Retrieved April 14, 2013. 
  21. ^ "HBO Not Moving Forward With Ryan Murphy Sexuality Drama 'Open'". The Hollywood Reporter. September 11, 2014. 
  22. ^ "Eat Pray Love". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved February 26, 2011. 
  23. ^ Kit, Borys (January 20, 2012). "Julia Roberts, Alec Baldwin, Matt Bomer and Jim Parsons to Star in Ryan Murphy's Next Film". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 2, 2012. 
  24. ^ Kit, Borys; Goldberg, Lesley (January 17, 2013). "Ryan Murphy and Jason Blum Teaming Up for MGM's Remake of 'The Town That Dreaded Sundown'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 5, 2014. 
  25. ^ "Ryan Murphy Options Movie Rights To Bestseller 'Empty Mansions'". Deadline.com. March 14, 2014. Retrieved October 11, 2014. 
  26. ^ Poniewozik, James (March 7, 2005). "Queer Eye for Straight TV". Time Magazine. Retrieved August 20, 2008. 
  27. ^ "Carl Maston". La Curbedm. Retrieved October 11, 2014. 
  28. ^ Van Meter, Jonathan (September 18, 2012), "Ryan Murphy's Hope: Is American Ready for The New Normal?", Vogue Magazine, retrieved September 18, 2012 
  29. ^ "Ryan Murphy Second Child: Glee Creator Welcomes Baby Via Surrogate With Husband David Miller". Us Magazine. October 6, 2014. Retrieved October 11, 2014. 
  30. ^ "Lady Gaga to Perform at amFAR Event Honoring Ryan Murphy". 
  31. ^ "'Glee' creator Ryan Murphy to Kings of Leon: 'F-- You'". EW.com. Retrieved October 11, 2014. 

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