Ryan Murphy

Ryan Murphy

Raised in Indianapolis, IN, Murphy had his first brush with writing through his parents, who had founded a small publishing company, Brzamo Publishing. He attended Warren Central High School, where he was active in numerous clubs, performed in musicals and plays, and edited the school's newspaper, The Warren Owl. After graduating in 1983, he attended Indiana University in nearby Bloomington, where he majored in journalism. During his freshman year, Murphy landed a summer internship at the The Knoxville News-Sentinel and began working the police beat - on his first day, he covered a car crash as well as a liquor store thief who accidentally blew his face off with a shotgun. Murphy was upset enough to ask for a transfer to another department. His wish was granted the next day when he moved over to the Living section, which allowed him to write fashion and current trends. After his sophomore year, Murphy got internships at The Washington Post and The Miami Herald, where his first assignment was an interview with Meryl Streep - a far cry from faceless corpses and mangled automobiles.Murphy left Miami to work as the Los Angeles Bureau Chief of the Herald - in reality, writing fluff stories out of his apartment living room - while he branched out and began writing freelance pop culture stories for The Los Angeles Times, Entertainment Weekly and The New York Daily News. In the late 1990s, Murphy sold his first script, "Why Can't I Be Audrey Hepburn," about a woman left at the altar who develops a relationship with the best man after discovering a mutual love of Audrey Hepburn movies. Steven Spielberg was initially attached to direct, but later relinquished his involvement. The script went through several more directors - and lead actresses - then found itself in turnaround at DreamWorks. Warner Bros. eventually snagged the script from obscurity and put it into development with Jennifer Love Hewitt in the lead and Murphy behind the helm as director.After abandoning journalism for the more lucrative world of entertainment, Murphy developed his first television show, "Popular," a biting satirical drama that focused on two high school girls (Carly Pope and Leslie Bibb) - one a bright outsider, the other a popular cheerleader - brought together both at school and at home by circumstances beyond their control. Though he was technically producing a drama, Murphy layered in a stylized, over-the-top comedic tone that allowed him to underscore how superficial people can be. "Popular" was a hit with the teeny-bopper set, allowing the show to survive two full seasons on the WB, but was unceremoniously canceled anyway. The show, however, did manage to find new life on the DVD shelves.When Murphy was a working journalist, he toyed with the idea of writing a hard-hitting feature on the perils of plastic surgery. He went undercover to a surgeon's office in Beverly Hills, posing as an intended patient in hopes of digging up some valuable information. The doctor instead advised Murphy to undergo five surgeries, leaving the writer badly shaken about his outward appearance. Years later when Murphy was climbing the television ladder, he decided to revisit America's obsession with changing their appearance as the subject of his next series creation, "Nip/Tuck," a show that became one of the more controversial and talked-about shows of the new millennium. Starring Julian McMahon as a dashing, but deviant plastic surgeon constantly at odds with his stuffed shirt partner, played by Dylan Walsh, "Nip/Tuck" leaped over the lines of good taste and questionable morality, resulting in several advocacy groups - the Parents Television Council in particular - denouncing the show as "garbage." But the critics and audiences loved it, making "Nip/Tuck" the highest-rated show on the FX network.While "Nip/Tuck" was in full swing during its fourth season, Murphy began to segue into the feature world, starting with his directorial debut, "Running with Scissors" (2006) - a quirky comedic drama based on Augusten Burrough's best-selling memoir. At first, Murphy had a tough time obtaining the rights to the book - Burrough had been steadfast in his refusal to allow Hollywood to adapt it - but a five-hour lunch in New York convinced the author otherwise, realizing that the two shared much in common, including being the product of a dynamic and somewhat tragic mother. The film followed a young Augusten (Joseph Cross) as he's sent to live with the psychiatrist (Brian Cox) of his mentally-ill mother (Annette Benning) who just went through a rough divorce with the boy's alcoholic father (Alec Baldwin). Augusten struggles to adapt to the zany household - which includes the doctor's strange daughters (Gwyneth Paltrow and Evan Rachel Wood) - while learning to cope and ultimately survive. Despite fine performances from a talented cast, "Running with Scissors" was panned by most critics for lacking the emotional depth of the book.While he continued to churn out episodes of the popular and highly-rated "Nip/Tuck," despite the show becoming more and more ludicrous the longer it stayed on air, Murphy inked a three- year, $15 million dollar development deal with 20th Century Fox. The result was "Glee," a musical comedy that centered on Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison), a high school Spanish teacher who becomes the director of a flailing glee club, hoping to restore it to its former glory. Renaming the group New Directors, Will gathers together a group of misfit students - an overly ambitious, fame-hungry sophomore (Lea Michele), a paraplegic guitar player (Kevin McHale), a stuttering Goth (Jenna Ushkowitz) and the school's star quarterback with irrepressible talent (Cory Monteith) - and manages to turn things around. Eschewing traditional casting methods for series television, Murphy instead drew talent from the theater, since each episode consisted of several song-and-dance numbers, including a rousing rendition of Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" in the pilot episode. "Glee" earned a sizeable audience when the first episode aired in May 2009 amidst heavy promotion. Fans had to wait until the fall season started for further episodes, which helped turn the rather daring show into a cult hit. When the new episodes hit the air, "Glee" became a breakout hit for the network, while earning serious awards recognition in 2010, including a Golden Globe for Best Television Series - Comedy or Musical, and later that year, an Emmy nomination for writing and a win for Outstanding Direction for Murphy.