Diane Haithman is contributing to Deadline’s coverage of TCA.
During a panel for his new thriller drama series for FX, American Horror Story, Murphy confessed a dark family secret that may have led to his fascination with horror: “My grandmother would force me, even when I was sobbing and screaming, to watch Dark Shadows,” he said. “And then when I was bad, I had to watch The Waltons.”
Murphy and fellow American Horror Story co-creator Brad Falchuck said that the present cast and characters would not necessarily only be around for the first 13 episodes as has been speculated. And they assured their audience that many of the questions raised in the pilot episode would be answered fairly quickly in the second and third episodes. “(We have) a pilot that I believe has like eight cliffhangers,” Murphy said. “We had an obligation to the audience in the next two scripts to explain a lot of those things that are set up.” One of those things, he said, will be why the characters stay in the very scary 1920s California house — a phenomenon that has been spoofed a lot, why people in haunted houses in horror films and TV shows just don’t get the heck out of there. Murphy said that very important question would be answered in the third episode. As for questions about the recent controversy over the fate of some of the stars from his other series — Fox’s Glee — Murphy declined to answer those. “I’m not talking about Glee,” he said after the panel. “I’ve said everything I wanted to say about that” (See Emmy Q&A: Ryan Murphy About ‘Glee’ and ‘Glee’s Ryan Murphy Talks For First Time About Spinoff & Firings Missteps.)
Falchuk said he and Murphy “are obsessed with the (horror) genre,” mentioning Rosemary’s Baby and Don’t Look Now among their influences. But despite the strong horror elements, the show at its core it’s “a drama about marriage and infidelity,” Murphy said.
Cast member Jessica Lange was asked about making a foray into TV after her movie career. “I think it had to do with the quality of the writing, the character that I could play,” she said, adding that it has become easier for actors to go back and forth among movies, TV and theater. “Maybe we’re getting more like the English … you can do anything,” she said. She said she had a couple of conversations with Murphy prior to accepting the role and jokes: “I’d never had a man promise me so much.”
Also in the cast is Connie Britton from NBC/DirecTV’s canceled series Friday Night Lights, which has received its first Emmy nomination this year for Outstanding Drama Series. She also joked that she’d never had a man promise so much to her as Murphy, but said that the seduction happened not over the phone but at Murphy’s favorite haunt, the 101 Coffee Shop in Hollywood. Britton added that she was never a fan of horror movies — nor had she ever cared much about football, the subject of Friday Night Lights — but felt that the “beautiful story” of both transcends the subject for her. After the session, Britton, a 2010 Emmy nominee for FNL, called this year’s nomination for series “so thrilling … the sweetest thing of all. It’s such a beautiful poetic way to end a poetic show.” She added she is looking forward to an FNL movie (confirmed by Peter Berg earlier during the TCA) and said, “I’ll believe it when I see it … it would be so fun to do it.”