I Knew I Wanted to Do Something Hopeful - a Celebration of 40s Hollywood; THE NEW DRAMA FROM GLEE CREATOR RYAN MURPHY FOLLOWS A GROUP OF WANNABES AS THEY DO WHATEVER IT TAKES TO MAKE IT IN TINSELTOWN. WE TOOK A PEEP BEHIND THE SCENES WITH ITS PRODUCERS

Coventry Evening Telegraph (England), May 8, 2020 | Go to article overview

I Knew I Wanted to Do Something Hopeful - a Celebration of 40s Hollywood; THE NEW DRAMA FROM GLEE CREATOR RYAN MURPHY FOLLOWS A GROUP OF WANNABES AS THEY DO WHATEVER IT TAKES TO MAKE IT IN TINSELTOWN. WE TOOK A PEEP BEHIND THE SCENES WITH ITS PRODUCERS


NETFLIX is taking us back to the Golden Age of movies when the studio system ruled and stars like Rock Hudson, Vivien Leigh and Lana Turner graced the silver screen, with its glossy new series, Hollywood.

The brainchild of superproducer and screenwriter Ryan Murphy, the man behind hits like Nip/Tuck, Glee, American Horror Story, Pose and Feud, its glittering cast includes acting legends like Patti LuPone and Holland Taylor as well as Oscar winner Mira Sorvino and Glee's Darren Criss, and is a story of ambition and the desperation to succeed in an industry riven by power struggles and race and gender prejudice.

Here Hollywood's executive producers Ryan, Janet Mock and Ian Brennan reveal why their 'outsiders' story feels more timely than ever.

How did the idea for Hollywood get started? Ryan Murphy: I'd been playing around with the idea of doing something about buried history for a while, and I knew that I wanted to do something hopeful and optimistic - a celebration of 1940s Hollywood.

After working together on The Assassination of Gianni Versace, Darren Criss and I were having dinner and we started talking about a very famous gas station in Hollywood where sex workers mingled with celebrities.

I merged both of those ideas, and we began a lovingly constructed look at how I wished Hollywood would have operated back then; a world where women and gay people and people of colour could flourish. I think the world would be very different than it is today if that had happened.

Janet Mock: Ryan pitched the show to me over dinner as a show about these outsiders in Hollywood who are going to try to make it no matter what. It intrigued me. He told me it was set during the Golden Age of Hollywood in the studio system, and I love that time period. But oftentimes, as a woman of colour, I rarely, if ever, saw myself represented during that time.

This show is set in the 1940s, but it tackles some extremely timely themes... Ian Brennan: Even back then, way before the #MeToo Movement, we were dealing with the same issues in entertainment - and everywhere, really.

Now there's finally an awareness about abusive power dynamics. But what if these conversations had happened in 1947 instead of 1997 or 2007 or 2017? We wanted to explore that.

Many of the leading characters are fictional, but you've also included some real-life figures - Rock Hudson, Henry Willson, Anna May Wong, Hattie McDaniel, Eleanor Roosevelt, to name a few. Why did you choose those people? Ryan: I was very interested in Anna May Wong, Hattie McDaniel and Rock Hudson because they were all people who should have been able to be themselves and be celebrated, but were not. They were victims of the Hollywood system and they were under-appreciated.

All three of those people had tragic endings. I was interested in this idea of giving them happy endings. What would that look like? How would you do it? Janet: It was important to us that we tell an aspirational story, and that we show a different kind of portrait of what the winners and dreamers look like.

Because today, we're still grappling with an industry where there are far too few people of colour on screen, far too few LGBTQ people and women in power.

Ryan: I have a very strong connection to this time period because my grandmother was a big movie buff, and I was raised with her telling me all about Rock Hudson.

We lived in Indiana, but from a very young age she would tell me that Rock Hudson was gay and I remember thinking, 'Oh, there's somebody else like me'. …

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