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This story first appeared in the May 24 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Twenty-five years after Murphy Brown premiered, eight members of the writing staff gathered for the first time in years.
Asked what their lead character, investigative reporter and FYI anchor Murphy Brown (played by Candice Bergen), would be doing if the workplace comedy was still airing, show creator Diane English is quick with a response.
“She’d be doing exactly the same thing. FYI would still be on the air, the way 60 Minutes is still on the air,” she says, noting that the cast simply would be “a little older” and “a little creakier.”
English’s staff nods in agreement, with Steven Peterman quipping, “And we’d write the episode where she slept with Jon Stewart.“
Of course, none could quite envision the topical series airing on broadcast television today. “It would offend too many people,” says Peterman of a program that embraced such topics as addiction, cancer and single motherhood.
The conversation shifts to Murphy‘s most controversial moment, when then-Vice President Dan Quayle blasted the series for featuring a career-minded woman having a child out of wedlock. “It was surreal,” recalls Korby Siamis, with Peterman adding, “We still felt like it was a sitcom — it doesn’t belong on the front page of The New York Times.”
With time, English has found irony and comedy in the hullabaloo. “My goal was to get people to believe that Murphy was a real person,” she says, then “the vice president blamed her for the fall of Western civilization.”
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