Easily one of the most highly anticipated events of Saturday’s inaugural EW Fest, the Ryan Murphy & Friends panel was packed beyond capacity — and with good reason. Accompanying Murphy were Scream Queens stars Lea Michele, Keke Palmer, and Emma Roberts, as well as American Horror Story: Hotel stars Kathy Bates and Matt Bomer. Moderated by EW’s own Tim Stack, the panel discussion revealed the less-than-glamorous pre-acting jobs of some of the stars, what Lady Gaga is really like (delightful), whether Ryan Murphy would consider a Nip/Tuck revival, and more. See below for the highlights.
1. Lea Michele used to work in a bat mizvah dress shop
Prior to making it big on Broadway, Michele worked in a bat mitvah dress shop when she was 17 years old. Were there a lot of sequins? “A lot of a lot,” she answered. “It was New Jersey.” For her part, Bates revealed that she used to work in the payroll department at the Museum of Modern Art, but that she bailed soon after being asked whether she’d consider studying to become a full-fledged accountant.
Of course, we already knew that Ryan Murphy used to walk the hallowed halls of Entertainment Weekly, but he also shared that he wrote the 1993 cover story for Benny & Joon — and was “100 percent rewritten,” he added. “Which was great, because it obviously needed to be.” Bomer used to work in the gas pipeline with his brother (“very blue collar”), and he also interned at an ad agency before making it as an actor.
2. Keke Palmer will never let go of Murder House
Were you hoping that Murphy might one day revisit Murder House, the very first installment of the American Horror Story anthology? So does Keke Palmer — but don’t hold your breath. When she asked Murphy about it, he shot her down, telling the Scream Queens star that the fun thing about each season of AHS is “you get to build it up and then you get to burn it down.” Palmer was not soothed: “That’s so hurtful.”
Murphy, however, gets just as attached to each season — in particular, he didn’t want Coven to end, which is why he came up with Scream Queens as a way to bridge the gap between the anthology format and traditional serialized television. In Scream Queens, said Murphy, four characters survive each installment and move into a brand-new setting.
Earlier in the discussion, Palmer shared that she had fallen “in love” with season 1 of AHS, not having realized that the creator was behind Nip/Tuck, another one of her faves. Once she figured it out, she said to herself, “This dude’s off the charts! Where have I been?”
Speaking of Nip/Tuck … Murphy has an uncanny ability to garner cult audiences for his shows — the kind that bring series like Full House, Twin Peaks, The X-Files, and more back to life. When asked whether he’d consider reviving Popular or Nip/Tuck, he didn’t quite answer to Popular (though he did admit that the show was considered a “big flop” despite its cult following and that he “had a lot of trouble for two years after that show”), but he did say he’d consider continuing Nip/Tuck. However, it would be in a “grandfather” role instead of writing or running the show himself. (Oh, and he’d have two women star. Head here for more details!)
4. Emma Roberts apologizes to her costars when Chanel Oberlin gets particularly vicious
Whenever Chanel Oberlin unleashes her special brand of mean-girl fury onto the sisters of Kappa Kappa Tau on Scream Queens, Emma Roberts doles out hugs and apologies afterward. In her role as Chanel No. 5, Abigail Breslin tends to receive the full brunt of Chanel’s wrath, sometimes succumbing to tears. When Roberts and Breslin hug it out, “She’s like, ‘You don’t mean it, do you?'” Roberts imitated. “That breaks my heart,” said Bomer, prompting Roberts to pleadingly ask her costars, “There are times when she’s apologizing to me, right?!”
“No,” Palmer flatly replied, leading the panel to burst into laughter.
5. Kathy Bates is Hotel‘s No. 1 Lady Gaga stan
While Murphy and Bomer were certainly effusive in their praise of Lady Gaga’s professionalism and positive attitude, Hotel‘s biggest Little Monster is Kathy Bates — no question. The actress shared that Gaga’s Countess “scared the bejesus” out of her with “just a look,” and that if she could describe Gaga in one word it would be “playful.”
Bates also said that she was the first to arrive at Gaga’s infamous blood-red pool party, describing a glamorous foyer and curved staircase down which Gaga descended while “looking through [Bates’] soul,” wearing fishnet stockings, a thong, and a Cleopatra-style diamond collar with her hair in the style of Veronica Lake. “Okay, that’s The Countess,” Bates decided at the time. She went on to describe Gaga as the perfect host, even walking Bates to her car, something which Bates insisted she need not do given the driveway was covered in gravel. But that was no obstacle for Gaga: “I can walk on gravel with my platforms,” she told Bates. Of course she can.
6. The Real Housewives of New York City might have ‘seeped’ into Ryan Murphy’s ‘dark dreams’
As it was pointed out to him, there have been three characters from Murphy’s universe named after ladies from the world of RHONY — LuAnn de Lesseps (otherwise known as The Countess, played by Gaga), Sonja Morgan (spelled “Sonya” in Scream Queens and played by Ariana Grande), and Ramona Singer (Ramona Royale, played by Angela Bassett in Hotel). Murphy admitted that he is a Housewives fan and that the franchise is like “Baby Einstein” to him (“I just watch Housewives and chill out”), but said that the choices were not consciously made — “but I could see how it could seep into my dark dreams.”
Adding to the Housewives conversation, Palmer said that she often says that Roberts is NeNe Leakes at heart, and that Roberts insists Palmer is Yolanda Foster from The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Michele wanted to get in on the action, too, and was dubbed Carole Radziwill. (All fodder for your Real Housewives AU fan fiction, surely.)