Ryan Murphy Taking Wait-and-See Approach to His Future With 20th TV Amid Disney Deal

"Am I going to have to put Mickey Mouse in 'American Horror Story'?" the showrunner asked Bob Iger.
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Ryan Murphy

Ryan Murphy is weighing in on the Disney-ABC merger and his future at 20th Century Fox Television.

The showrunner, the studio's most prolific creator, was shocked to learn of the deal in December. "Three months ago, I literally thought I'd be buried on the Fox lot. I had my mausoleum picked out, and I was ready to commit," he told the crowd at the Television Critics Association press tour, where he was on a panel promoting his new network drama, 9-1-1. "It’s a very emotional thing for me because I've grown up there. … I was very not prepared for what happened."

The day that the deal was announced, Murphy received a call from 21st Century Fox owners the Murdochs and Disney CEO Bob Iger. The writer-director expressed his concerns to the latter about being forced to "go Disney" and not being able to create the type of shows (which aren't exactly G-rated) on which he's built his business. "Am I going to have to put Mickey Mouse in 'American Horror Story'?" he wondered to laughs from the Langham Hotel ballroom.

But Murphy acknowledged that Iger was "very sweet and transparent and kind" on the call and helped to quell his fears. "He said, 'No, the reason Disney was interested in buying Fox was because they believed in assets. They believed in the executives and the creators,'" said Murphy, who added that he thinks Iger has done a "tremendous job" of taking over other companies (i.e. Pixar and Marvel) and keeping their communities intact. "So I'm interested to see what that company is going to look like before I make decisions about where I'm going to go."

"I've just decided to wait and sit back and talk to my friends who are my bosses and see what’s happening with them and then make a decision once we know what’s happening," he continued, earlier name-checking Dana Walden, John Landgraf, Peter Rice and Gary Newman as the key executives he's worked with who have believed in him. "I don't think anybody knows what that company is going to look like. I was surprised — but I'm hopeful. I think it's a great time to be a content creator."

Earlier on Thursday, Fox’s studio and network chiefs Walden and Newman offered their thoughts on the merger. They spent the majority of their time in the hot seat focused on what could become of Fox Broadcasting Company, or “New Fox” as they've dubbed it, insisting that it'll be a “robust and nimble company” that would continue to do entertainment programming. As for whether the pair will stay in their posts or look elsewhere, both say they're similarly taking the wait-and-see approach. "When I've made my decision [about the future], my strategy is to tell my children, my mother, my husband and then my father — who will then tell everyone he knows," joked Walden to the audience. "Maybe some of your parents know him."

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