Ryan Murphy, HBO Prepping 'Normal Heart' Sequel

Ryan Murphy
Steve Schofield

Ryan Murphy is no stranger to gore. His plastic surgery drama Nip/Tuck was groundbreaking in its gruesomeness. But with FX’s American Horror Story, he has upped the ante. Coven, the third season in the anthology series (set to bow Oct. 9), boasts a triumvirate of veteran actresses including star Jessica Lange, Angela Bassett (who plays Marie Laveau, the so-called voodoo queen of New Orleans) and Kathy Bates (who plays a serial killer).

HBO is eyeing a sequel to Larry Kramer and Ryan Murphy's adaptation of The Normal Heart.

A day after presenting the TV movie based on Kramer's Tony-winning play, the premium cable network is mulling a follow-up with Murphy directing and the all-star cast, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed.

Murphy would again direct the second movie, with stars including Julia Roberts, Mark Ruffalo and Jim Parsons expected to join executive producers Kramer, Jason Blum, Dede Gardner and Dante DiLoreto.

STORY: Ryan Murphy on HBO's 'Normal Heart': 'It's a Love Story'

The Normal Heart, which HBO will bow in May, runs from 1981-84 and explores the onset of the HIV/AIDS crisis in New York City. It touches on the nation's sexual politics as gay activists and their allies in the medical community fight to expose the truth about the epidemic to a city in denial. The potential follow-up would take place between 1987 and the 1990s as Ruffalo's Ned Weeks (the character based on activist Kramer) becoming an activist trying to help those who have been touched by the disease.

The news comes a day after HBO presented Normal Heart to critics at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour, where Murphy stressed that the themes represented in the movie still resonate today as the nation continues to legalize gay marriage.

"Larry wrote that play with the idea that silence does equal death," Murphy told reporters. "When people were writing about it, there were no solutions. It ends in '84, but what it's about feels modern to me with gay marriage in the news and people fighting to be loved and accepted for who they are. It's still very modern and very applicable to the way we're living today."

The showrunner behind American Horror Story and Glee also noted that The Normal Heart will address how Kramer -- a tireless activist -- was treated at the time as well as the continuing fight against HIV/AIDS, which has claimed more than 40 million people with 7,000 diagnosed as HIV positive every day.

Murphy worked with Kramer for three years on Normal Heart after securing the rights to the property in 2010. The duo worked closely with co-executive producer/star Ruffalo on the movie, adding a great deal of new material for the movie.

Should HBO move forward with the Normal Heart follow-up, it would mark Murphy's latest collaboration with the premium cabler, joining drama pilot Open, which is poised to start filming shortly.

E-mail: Lesley.Goldberg@THR.com
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