The producer behind hits including Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, 911 and American Horror Story is expecting to reunite with Dana Walden, who worked closely with Murphy when she headed what was then 20th Century Fox TV and he had a deal there. Walden, who is also one Murphy’s closest friends and confidants, is now co-chairman of Disney Entertainment. The new, not yet completed pact — Murphy’s Netflix deal doesn’t expire until the end of the month, after all — will bring Murphy back in-house with FX’s John Landgraf, with whom he has long had a close creative relationship, as well. Sources say the move has been in the works since well before the Writers Guild of America went on strike in May.
Disney declined to comment.
Murphy famously left 20th in 2018 for a $300 million deal at Netflix, becoming — along with Shonda Rhimes — one of the biggest producers to sign with the streamer. Snagging a producer who had once declared he’d be buried on the Fox lot was seen as a major coup for Netflix and Ted Sarandos at the time. But Murphy’s early years at the streaming service proved rocky, with efforts like Hollywood, Halston and feature film The Prom failing to cut through. The past year has been the most fruitful of the deal, with Dahmer and The Watcher, both of which he co-created with longtime collaborator Ian Brennan, becoming breakout hits for the streamer.
During his tenure at Netflix — which also included The Politician, Ratched and The Boys in the Band — Murphy also continued to produce popular franchises for 20th that predated his departure. In addition to American Horror Story and 911, his output for 20th TV included FX’s ongoing American Crime Story anthology, Pose and Feud, which has a second season is in the works. The arrangement had long baffled many in town, particularly in the early days, when his Netflix projects weren’t hitting and the 20th fare were. According to multiple insiders, the summer 2021 announcement that Murphy would also be producing an American Sports Story and American Love Story via and for Disney entities did not sit well with Sarandos.
Now, in an ironic twist, Murphy will continue producing installments of Netflix hits Monster — another anthology, with season two focusing on the Menendez brothers — and Watcher for Sarandos, while calling Disney his creative home. Dealmaking terms are being kept under wraps, though the deal market has cooled considerably in five years.