There was virtually no way Fox’s innovative musical comedy Glee wouldn’t be nominated for an Emmy this year (although Season Two lost some momentum) after conventional wisdom declared it a toss-up for Outstanding Series with Modern Family in 2010. This time around, Glee received 12 nominations and co-creator Ryan Murphy isn’t hiding from industry insiders how much he wants the show to get gold. Even though last month’s firing controversy put him on the defensive with the media and even the show’s actors. (See EXCLUSIVE: Glee’s Ryan Murphy Talks For First Time About Firings Missteps.) Here is the rest of his exclusive interview with Deadline special correspondent Allison Hope Weiner:
DEADLINE: How do you feel about Glee being nominated for 12 Emmys and you not getting nominated for writing or directing?
MURPHY: I was really happy with the ones I got. I was a little disappointed with the ones I didn’t get. I just loved so many of the episodes and I think our show is so hard to direct. It’s an hour. It’s musical numbers. That said, I think people are assholes when they say they should have been nominated. Sometimes it’s your year and sometimes it’s not. For a thing like an awards show, you just should be quiet and happy and gracious and say thank you for what you get.
DEADLINE: When Nip/Tuck wasn’t nominated for outstanding series did it bug you?
MURPHY: FX hadn’t really broken through. The first drama that they got nominated was Damages. The thing I was thrilled about for Glee was that we were still nominated for comedy so that we were still in the game, but also a lot of the cast and crew got nominated. Somebody like Gwyneth Paltrow whose father was nominated 9 times and never won. She was nominated. When I called her, she was very emotional because it meant something to her because of her father. I was really happy about that. Would I have liked to see (directors) Alfonso Gomez-Rejon or Brad (Falchuk) or Eric (Stoltz) get in there? Yeah. But when you look at all those nominees, I think those were all great episodes. I think the hard thing about our show is that articles are written asking whether we are a dramedy. I hate that word. They talk about starting separate categories. To which I’m like, ‘Do we really need more categories? Do we really need another half an hour on that Emmy awards show?’ No. I think our first season was spectacular. I think our second season was good. I understand people’s criticisms of it, but I still love it.
DEADLINE: What about last year’s conventional wisdom that it was an Emmy face-off between Glee and Modern Family?
MURPHY: When we first started off with Modern Family, I felt very competitive with them. We were both the babies of (20th Century Fox TV chairman) Dana Walden. We would win the Golden Globe and they would win the Emmy. Now it’s different. I’m really proud of Steven and (Levitan) I’m really proud of Chris (Lloyd) and I’m really proud that they got so many nominations. I salute them. I think that they will win. I would love to win. I would love for our show to be recognized. But I think they’re a classic. I think good for them.
DEADLINE: Do you really think that?
MURPHY: Look, the morning of this year’s Emmy nominations, I was really excited. The year before, we had 19. I got up at 5:30 AM. I saw we got 12, and I was like, ‘Oh, I wish we had a couple more for our cast and crew.’ I would have liked to have been nominated. But I looked at the list of nominees and you can’t argue with that. I was disappointed Matt (Morrison) wasn’t nominated and Lea (Michele) wasn’t nominated. With those things, you have to see the glass as half full. And you call up Lea and say, ‘Next year, we’re writing great stuff for you.” I was really thrilled for Dot Marie Jones. The reason Dot got that part was she was a stunt woman and she hadn’t really acted and she came in and blew our socks off, Brad and I, for a pilot we did called Pretty Handsome. The pilot wasn’t picked up. But I never forgot her performance. We wrote that role for her. We said, ‘You’re a really cool unusual lady and it’s probably hard for you to be cast. We’re going to show the world what we see.’ The fact that she did the part and she got nominated, I was like, that’s amazing. I was so proud of Chris Colfer. And I was so proud of Gwyneth Paltrow. Gwyneth Paltrow is the coolest chick that you’re ever going to meet. She’s talented and the thing about Gwyneth is if you have a friend with cancer or an ailment, she’s the person that everyone in her life turns to. She’s so kind. She knows how to be a good friend. When she first found out about the Emmy nominations, she didn’t talk about herself. She talked about how her dad would be so proud. We love her. That’s how I feel about the Emmys.
DEADLINE: After doing an edgy show like Nip/Tuck, was it hard to do a show like Glee?
MURPHY: What happened was because of the success of Nip/Tuck I was lucky enough to get an overall deal at Fox. And at that point, the two guys who’d greenlit Nip/Tuck at FX, Peter Ligiori and Kevin Riley, were now at Fox. So I was very close with them, and very close with Dana Walden. That first general meeting was, ‘What do you want to do?’ And I think they thought I want to do something dark and upsetting. But I wanted to go from something nihilistic to something optimistic. I said one of my favorite movies is Cabaret and I’d love to do a musical. They said, ‘We’ve always been looking for something to pair with American Idol. It’s never worked.” But I just threw it out there. Two weeks after that meeting, I was approached by Michael Novick who had his friend Ian Brennan’s movie script which was about a glee club. It was much darker, like an independent movie. I read it and I called them in and said, ‘I love this, but I think this could be a cool TV show. I think this is the way to do it.’ Ian was like, ‘I love that idea.’ So with my writing partner at the time, Brad Falchuk, who worked with me on Nip/Tuck, we went to Kevin and Peter and Dana and Gary (Newman) and said, ‘Here’s the idea. It’s youthful.’ And I said, ‘I promise it won’t have transsexuals.’ Peter Liguori used to say, ‘Oh God, another transsexual.’ And to their credit they never said no. They were like, ‘If you believe in it, let’s try it.’ So they read it and they greenlit it within like 12 hours or something crazy. We turned it in and it tested OK. It was one of those things where some of the people in the test didn’t even realize it was a musical because it was sort of its own animal. All of those people, no matter what has been said, always believed in it. (more…)