After three decades of futility, The Normal Heart figures to be at the center of the Primetime Emmy Awards. It received 16 nominations, including one for its director Ryan Murphy, and for the performances of Mark Ruffalo, Matt Bomer, Julia Roberts, Joe Mantello (who starred in the original play), Jim Parsons, and Alfred Molina. And one for Larry Kramer, who turned a roman a clef version of his fight against indifference to the AIDS crisis into the play on which the movie is based. Between The Normal Heart and his series American Horror Story and Glee, Murphy’s productions racked up 34 Emmy noms, more than some networks. Here, he discusses the groundbreaking movie, the long battle to get it to the screen and how Barbra Streisand helped keep The Normal Heart beating all those years.
DEADLINE: For me and anyone else in their 50s who lived in a city like New York, The Normal Heart brought back that Twilight Zone nightmare period when we watched friends die and were powerless to help, amidst rampant political apathy because most of those stricken were gay. Larry Kramer’s refusal to go quietly made him a true screen hero, though he was equally vocal that his heartbreaking play took three decades to get made. How long did this movie burn in you?
MURPHY: I was in college when the play came out and had seen productions of it through the years, and I always deeply admired it. I grew up in that era where things were very scary. I lost 10 friends to AIDS and so it was always an important piece of art in my life. I followed the project’s trajectory starting in 1987, and was always very sad that it was not made into a movie. I always felt that the current generation, so many young people, didn’t know what happened, was unaware of the nightmare we lived through back then.
DEADLINE: How did that translate to action?
MURPHY: It was pretty simple. I woke up one day in 2009 and thought, why has this movie not been made? My producing partner Dante Di Loreto knew Larry and called him. The rights were lapsing and Larry agreed to meet with me. He didn’t know who I was, or any of my previous work. I think he was taken by my passion. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: It took Larry Kramer 30 years to see his Tony-winning play The Normal Heart make it to the screen. The path may be far shorter for a Normal Heart follow-up. I’ve learned that HBO has commissioned a script by Kramer for a potential sequel to the HBO Films’ The Normal Heart, which is set to premiere in May. I hear The Normal Heart director Ryan Murphy, who spearheaded the effort to make the play into a movie, would be back at the helm, with the film’s stars Mark Ruffalo, Julia Roberts and Jim Parsons expected to return, along with the entire producing team: exec producers Murphy, Kramer, Jason Blum, Dede Gardner and Dante Di Loreto.
The original movie (and the play) focused on the onset of the HIV-AIDS crisis in New York City from 1981-84, ending before there was an HIV test. The sequel would chronicle the events from 1987 through the 1990s, with Ruffalo, whose Ned Weeks (modeled after Kramer) witnessed the disease first-hand in The Normal Heart, becoming an activist trying to help people who have been affected — also similar to Kramer’s real-life trajectory. Roberts plays Emma Brookner, the polio-stricken physician who treated several of the earliest victims of the disease; Parsons portrays gay activist Tommy Boatwright, a role he also played in the play’s 2011 Broadway revival. Read More »
It didn’t take long for tech entrepreneur Larry Kramer to begin to put his stamp on what was known, in the pre-digital era, as The Nation’s Newspaper. Kramer, who became USA Today’s publisher in May, unveiled today a print and online feature called “TV On The Web.” It will list webisodes and video podcasts that grab the attention of the publication’s editors and reporters, with a weekly pick from blogger Whitney Matheson. “With celebrities such as Tom Hanks and Jerry Seinfeld entering the web-only space, and alternative programming sites such as YouTube, Hulu and Netflix carrying exclusive programming, the time has come to reflect the changing media landscape,” Kramer says. The online information is divided into genres including animation, comedy, drama, entertainment, tech and gaming, and family. It will appear in the print edition’s TV listings page, and at this website. The announcement comes the same day as the series premiere of Hanks’ Electric City on Yahoo.
Gannett said today that Larry Kramer has been appointed president and publisher of USA Today, the nation’s biggest print newspaper. Kramer, the former head of CBS Digital Media and founder of the financial-info site MarketWatch, currently serves as a media consultant and adjunct professor at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Communications. Among his duties at USA Today, Kramer will lead the search for a new editor-in chief. Kramer served as the first president of CBS Digital Media from 2005 to 2007, when he instituted March Madness on Demand and established content partnerships with Google, Apple’s iTunes, Verizon, Yahoo and Amazon. He founded MarketWatch in 1997 and sold it to Dow Jones in 2005 for $530 million.