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Ryan Murphy’s New Series “Hollywood” Rewrites History


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Ryan Murphy, creator of “Glee,” “American Horror Story” and countless other successful series’, is back again with his most ambitious project yet, “Hollywood.” The Netflix series is loosely based on 1940s show business, however Murphy rewrites history in order to give happy endings to otherwise tragic Hollywood stories.

Murphy has been an advocate for marginalized groups throughout his career, deliberately featuring women, members of the LGBTQ community and people of color at the forefront of his stories. In his earlier projects such as “Glee” to the more recent, “Pose,” Murphy has made representation one of the most important story telling elements, staying true to a mission statement of his, “If you see it, you can be it.”

The series takes us back to “the golden age of Hollywood” in which many gay actors were forced to live their entire lives in the closet, and white actors were constantly chosen over people of color, even when casting ethnic roles. Murphy intends to tell a story in which these characters who had to negotiate their identities in order to be accepted by their industry get the justice they deserve.

Murphy’s collaborator, Ian Brennan, who also worked on “Glee,” “Scream Queens” and “The Politician,” explained to The Hollywood Reporter that while the show is sexy, “it was also about the #MeToo underbelly of 1940s Hollywood, which felt very, very contemporary.”

Darren Criss, longtime collaborator of Murphy’s, most notable for his starring role in “The Assassination of Gianni Versace,” will be returning with a central role in “Hollywood,” however Criss was also heavily involved behind the scenes on the project, working with Murphy to develop the show’s concept. Criss told The Hollywood Reporter, “it’s sexy, it’s fun, it’s glamorous, it’s dangerous, and it has resonance now.”

Murphy is known to work with a consistent cast of actors across projects, so, along with Criss, “Hollywood” stars familiar faces, Jim Parsons, Holland Taylor and Joe Mantello, but the show also introduces Jeremy Pope, Picking, Laura Harrier, Maude Apatow and Mira Sorvino who had never worked with Murphy before.

“Hollywood” will be released as a Netflix original, allowing for Murphy to develop the story without the constraints of network television. The show is expected to be racy, however not gratuitous. “When you’re finally free, you have this tendency to go full-tilt boogie, but ultimately I became much more interested in the emotion of the characters, and, frankly, I became protective of them,” Murphy explained to The Hollywood Reporter.

“Fifty percent of it is based on reality,” Murphy told The New York Post. “The show is a blending of real-life people I’ve been obsessed with since I was kid: Anna May Wong, Hattie McDaniel, Rock Hudson, Vivien Leigh, George Cukor. All of their stories and almost all of the things that they’re involved with are pretty accurate and heavily researched. And then the fictionalized people around them, many of them are based on real-life characters.”

Characters which Murphy tweaked include, housewife of a studio head, played by Patti LuPone’s. Murhpy decided to explore what would happen if she gained control of her husband’s studio. The show also introduces the character, Rock Hudson, a gay man forced to hide his sexuality. In “Hollywood,” he refuses to do so. “Once we began asking ‘What if?,’ it became a different show,” says Brennan,. 

“I’ve always been interested in this kind of buried history, and I wanted to create a universe where these icons got the endings that they deserved,” Murphy told The Hollywood Reporter.

“Hollywood” is set to be released on Netflix on May 1. Check out the trailer below.

Photo Source: Wonderland Magazine

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