Netflix just locked down another major writer-producer known for creating acclaimed hits for other networks.
The streaming service has snatched up Ryan Murphy — the Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning mind behind shows including Glee, American Horror Story, American Crime Story, and 9-1-1 — with an exclusive five-year overall deal.
Murphy previously had an overall deal with 20th Century Fox to create content for Fox and FX.
The move comes on the heels of Netflix coaxing showrunner Shonda Rhimes, of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal fame, away from her longtime home at ABC last August.
“Ryan Murphy’s series have influenced the global cultural zeitgeist, reinvented genres, and changed the course of television history,” said Ted Sarandos, chief content officer at Netflix. “His unfaltering dedication to excellence and to give voice to the underrepresented, to showcase a unique perspective or just to shock the hell out of us, permeates his genre-shattering work. From Nip/Tuck — our first licensed series — to American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson and American Horror Story, we’ve seen how his brand of storytelling captivates consumers and critics across the globe. His celebrated body of work and his contributions to our industry speak for themselves, and we look forward to supporting Ryan in bringing his broad and diverse stories to the world.”
“The history of this moment is not lost on me,” Murphy said in a statement. “I am a gay kid from Indiana who moved to Hollywood in 1989 with $55 dollars in savings in my pocket, so the fact that my dreams have crystallized and come true in such a major way is emotional and overwhelming to me. I am awash in genuine appreciation for Ted Sarandos, Reed Hastings, and Cindy Holland at Netflix for believing in me and the future of my company which will continue to champion women, minorities, and LGBTQ heroes and heroines, and I am honored and grateful to continue my partnership with my friends and peers at Fox on our existing shows.”
Murphy’s deal starts July 1, after his current contract expires.
Previously Murphy expressed misgivings about staying with 20th, given that the company was being purchased by the Walt Disney Company. “When this deal first went down, I got a call from the Murdochs and I got a call from Mr. Iger,” Murphy told reporters in January. “And I said point-blank, you know, the stuff that I do is not specifically Disney. I’m interested in that and I’m concerned about that. Am I going to have to put Mickey Mouse in American Horror Story? … [Iger] said, no, the reason that Disney was interested in buying Fox is because they believed in [its] assets and they believed in the executives and the creators. And I think that Mr. Iger has done a tremendous job taking over communities and keeping those communities intact — like Pixar, like Marvel. So I’m sort of interested to see what that company is going to look like before I make any decisions about where I’m going to go.”
Murphy also added, in what now sounds a bit like foreshadowing, that he always thought he would stay at Fox: “I started with Fox in 2003 and I was somebody who was told I was not employable,” he recalled. “I was told I was somebody who was too specific and niche … [Yet] I was allowed to create a career.” Murphy ran down some of his projects, and continued: “On paper, all of those things had one thing in common, which was they weren’t supposed to work. And the one thing that they did have in common was I had been surrounded since 2003 at Fox with an incredible group of executives who have always allowed me to follow my interest and passions, and they believed in me … So three months ago, I thought I would literally be buried on the Fox lot. I mean I really did … I’ve grown up there. I started working there in my 30s. Many of us have had young children that played together, and so I was very not prepared for what happened [with the sale to Disney].”