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  • Why Ryan Murphy Must Be Stopped

    July 18th, 2011

    By Danny Manus

    I’m a Gleek. There, I said it. I was in my high school’s choir (which got redubbed choir cult our senior year) and I worked at the local community theater.  I was a NY kid, so I was raised seeing (and loving) Broadway shows. And I’m a child of the 80s. So, I get Glee. But there’s an evil force surrounding Glee that must be stopped immediately…and his name is Ryan Murphy.

    When Ryan Murphy creates something, he’s a visionary. He has this twisted yet relatable commercial sensibility to him that connects to pop culture beautifully – most likely because he’s such a fan of pop culture himself. He has this ability to create a WORLD that most of us are aware of already, but take it to this whole other wonderful place…

    But then he seems to lose sight of his vision and get wrapped up in his own self-importance and self-aggrandizing bullshit (or maybe just the gobs of money rolling in), and like the Godzilla of Showrunners attacking his own Japanese City, he ruins the world he creates for the rest of us.

    I’m not saying Ryan Murphy is a bad guy per se…he’s just a really bad multi-tasker and it seems he doesn’t have the heart to truly care about whom he hurts as long as it promotes his own agenda. As soon as Ryan Murphy finds success with one of his projects, he immediately looks for the next big thing to put his name on – and that’s fine – that’s how Hollywood works. But unlike many, when Murphy multi-tasks, he falls incredibly short.

    Case in point. I was a HUGE Nip/Tuck fan. And right before the last season of the show, I got to work as an executive on a movie with Nip/Tuck star Dylan Walsh. We all went out to dinner one night after shooting and I nonchalantly asked him about the show. As any fan will tell you, the first 2 seasons of that show were pure fucking brilliance. The third season was GOOD but started going off the rails, and by season 5 it was almost painfully unwatchable.

    Julian McMahon, the Aussie star of the show, had completely forgotten he was supposed to be affecting an American accent. Joely Richardson had started banging the kid playing her son and likewise forgot that she was supposed to do an American accent and so she disappeared for a whole season (her pronunciation of Chris-chee-ann instead of Christian still haunts my thoughts), and poor Dylan Walsh looked so pissed that he had to read the inane melodramatic drivel given to him that it was pretty hard to watch.

    So, I asked Dylan what happened to Season 5 (the penultimate season) and he basically said that everyone was unhappy and wanted off the show and hated the material, but they couldn’t leave, and that came across on screen.  Even Ryan Murphy himself has said that the last two seasons of Nip/Tuck were awful because he hated the actors and the actors hated him and the writers fucked it up.

    And why? Because once Nip/Tuck took off, and Murphy got some acclaim, he used his stardom to write and direct the feature “Running with Scissors” in 2006 (which he began prepping for in 2004 – after the second season of Nip/Tuck). He took his eye off the ball.

    Jump to 2009 as Glee becomes a ridiculous smash hit and despite a bit of unnecessary soapyness in the writing of the first season, it was FUN and original and smart. And the money, press, fame and accolades came rollin’ in. And once again Murphy used this to transition to a big film with a big star – “Eat Pray Love” with Julia Roberts.

    And what happened? The second season of Glee jumped the shark, got silly and melodramatic and had more disjointed over-the-top storylines (like what happened on Nip/Tuck) and unnecessary tribute episodes that became more Murphy Masturbation than cohesive brilliant storytelling.  

    And now this Glee Machine – which could have run for 7 seasons, will now be cancelled after 4 or 5 (mark my words). Why? Because instead of doing the smart thing and stretching the timeline of high school to keep the show and its stars intact (having each season being HALF a school year instead of a full year for instance or switching it up and fudging the timelines), he’s decided to get rid of most of the main characters of the show after season 3. Chord Overstreet was let go and Lea Michele, Chris Colfer and Cory Monteith (so far) have already been given their walking papers a full season before their departure – which should make shooting this 3rd season NOT awkward at all. Dead Actors Walking…

    But he’s not done. I promise, many other actors are going to get cut from the show and they just don’t know it yet. There’s no way to keep the rest of them and NOT these 3 as they are ALL pretty much the same age. And his idea to keep Matthew Morrison (the weak link of the show) and make him the focal point instead of the kids is a big mistake. And then – just to show his polished and performed actors currently on the show that ANYONE can do their jobs so shut the fuck up and stop complaining – he launches the Glee Project Reality Show to find the show’s new star.

    If I was a star on Glee, this would make me furious. And by the way, if you’ve been watching, half the contestants on the reality show are pretty bad or at least annoying, and it’s pretty clear that they aren’t casting new stars to ADD to the cast – they are casting stars to REPLACE the cast – because they fill the same roles. I get that Glee is about acceptance and becoming who you are – but do we really need a “little person” or ANOTHER bad boy or gay diva or moderately talented big fat chick on the show?

    The reality show has just become a vanity project that lets Murphy get on camera and pronounce in his best gay baritone voice that “kids need to be themselves.” Unless, of course, they disagree with Murphy – then they better get in line and change.

    And now, after the second season of Glee, Eat Pray Love and the Glee Project, Murphy has taken on another show – a new series for FX titled “An American Haunting,” starring Connie Britton, Dermot Mulroney and Jessica Lange.  Now, it sounds like a cool project and yes, I will watch. But someone needs to mind the store. And someone needs to stop Murphy from doing promotions because every time he opens his mouth, he RUINS something we love and makes his actors feel 6 inches tall – which is what he did on Nip/Tuck and it backfired horribly.

    Murphy seems to have the showrunner version of A.D.D. He gets bored with his shows, he gets bored with his actors and he thinks HE is the center of the world and everyone must amuse him at all times. Here’s the thing – I get not caring if you’re known as a dick. Hell, I’ve based a business around it. But you don’t want to be known as The Guy Who Killed a Phenomenon and Ruined Children’s Lives Just Because He’s A Dick. There’s a difference.

    So, in the name of all those Gleeks out there, for all the Nip/Tuck fans out there, and for all the fans of good TV out there – please, someone stop Ryan Murphy before he strikes again.

  • TV Review: AMERICAN IDOL Premiere

    January 20th, 2011

    That’s right, I’ll admit it. I watch American Idol. I have since season one and at one time, I was a total fanatic. To this day, I have a total Kelly Clarkson fetish. And Carrie Underwood too. But besides those two and perhaps Daughtry and Adam Lambert (both of whom didn’t win), what has American Idol done for music lately?  It took me a minute to remember who won last year, and we haven’t heard from Lee Dwyze since (which I’m okay with). So can they go back to finding true superstar talent now that Simon’s not there?

    I based my business model after Simon Cowell – naturally, I was a fan. And while on occasion he was too cruel, sometimes people need to hear it. And for me, along with some good singing, Simon was the reason to watch. I also really liked Kara (I think I was the only one though) – I thought she was blunt and cool and just a bit high strung and pretty hot and that’s how I like my judging. But with both of them gone (and thankfully Ellen too), the new panel of judges of Steven Tyler, J-Lo and the “Dawg” Randy Jackson are missing something – and I hope they find it before it’s too late.

    I realize it was only the first episode, so I’m not going to judge the whole season yet and I’m going to give them some time to adjust to their new jobs, but the judges were just SOOO nice. It was like watching Paula Abdul times 3, but with less medication.  And perhaps it is the cynical asshole in me, but while I don’t like watching 2 hours of the WORST singers ever, I do like watching people get told the truth. And last night, the judges sent 51 (!!) people thru to Hollywood in the first 2 days of audition. This is about DOUBLE the amount they usually send from each location. At this rate, they will have 500 people go to Hollywood instead of the 200ish they usually bring.

    I know part of this is due to editing, but it really seemed like EVERYONE got a golden ticket and that’s mostly because they were solely going on voice and didn’t know how to say NO. And American Idol isn’t just about voice – it’s about having IT, it’s about having the ability to be the “American Idol.”

    And that trashy Jersey Shore reject with stars on her tits and her Snooki-gut hanging out – wasn’t Idol material. But because she could put a few notes together, she got through. Same for a couple others like the off-the-wall chick that sang show-tunes and wants to be the next Liza. I liked her – I thought she was a friggin’ hoot and for some reason, I think the ‘white-trash sexy’ look is hot – but come on – she’s not the next American Idol so why put her through?

    Same with a bunch of other contestants who were OK singers but certainly don’t deserve to be on AI. For me, there were only a couple of standouts include Robbie Rosen from Long Island, who was wheelchair bound and now isn’t. He was probably the best of the bunch.

    The other thing that stood out this year is the number of 15 and 16 year olds was WAY higher than any year before. This is the first year 15 year olds have been allowed to compete, and there were a few good ones, but it makes me feel like a dirty old man because some of them were…well…really hot (like that girl whose dad had throat cancer).  Luckily Steven Tyler is there to hit on them for me.

    Unfortunately, I think MOST of the 15 year olds will flame out at Hollywood week. Yes, they can sing, but I’m guessing many don’t know how to arrange music and sing with a group and sing music that they haven’t been rehearsing for years.

    I’m still waiting to see what Jimmy Iovine brings to the show in the mentor capacity, but I’m happy that they have done away with bringing in a different star to mentor them every week – that was pointless and they often gave conflicted notes to the contestants. And thank God the theme weeks are gone too – no more disco! I respect exec producer Nigel Lythgoe a lot – he’s talented, he’s got personality, and I think he does an awesome job on So You Think You Can Dance. And he did a great job on the first 5 seasons or so of Idol, so I think he’s going to shake up the show well. But for now, he just needs to get his judges to have a stronger backbone.

    I think J-Lo brings a personality to the show and I don’t hate her, she just needs to toughen up. Everyone knows (or thinks) she’s a bitch, so I understand her wanting to go the total other way to improve her image and become profitable again (let’s face it, the girls’ movie and music career is pretty much over), but she has to lay the smack down every once in a while. Randy’s doing a better job as the heavy, but he still needs to stop reaching his neck out like a damn peacock and he needs to say more than 5 words if he’s going to be the Simon of the bunch.

    And Steven Tyler…what can I say? I love the guy. Aerosmith is in my top 5 favorite bands of all-time. But he reminds me a little bit of what would happen if Gary Busey was also a musical genius and could hit on 16 year olds girls without seeming like a total rapist.  But, I’ve got hope. And the chance to hear him sing on Idol is worth the wait.

    So, I’m going to give this season a shot. The first episode was…NICE. Not bad, not great…just NICE. Hopefully, the talent gets better than the first two days. And hopefully the judges get a bit tougher. And despite ratings being down another 10% from last year, that’s pretty good considering its shining Simon star is gone. I think people will stick around as long as Idol keeps hitting the right notes.

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