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EMMYS: Jim Parsons On Performing In ‘Normal Heart’ — ‘Several Moments Grounded In Realism’

Jim Parsons Big Bang Theory Normal Heart interviewFor Jim Parsons, taking part in Ryan Murphy’s HBO adaptation of Larry Kramer’s Tony-winning play, The Normal Heart, was a no-brainer. Parsons could’ve gone on collecting Emmys for his superlative work on The Big Bang Theory—he has three so far for outstanding lead comedy actor. And he had already played acid-tongued AIDS activist Tommy Boatwright on Broadway. But it was important to him that he reprise the role for the telefilm. Here, Parsons reveals the confusion that followed his first meeting with Murphy, his reaction to his new scenes and the significance that his first Emmy nomination for a dramatic role would hold.

AWARDSLINE: How did you get involved with this project?
PARSONS: I’m pretty sure Ryan saw (me in) the stage production. But I have to admit, I’m not exactly sure whether he had the idea to approach me, or if jointly with Larry he had the idea to use me, or, if completely pushed by Larry, he had the idea to use me.

AWARDSLINE: I actually spoke to Ryan and he said Larry pushed to have you play this role.
PARSONS: That does not shock me. I was very fortunate with my experience doing the play with Larry. He was around a lot, (and) he happened to really like what I was doing. He was always a big, big supporter.

Related: Michael Ausiello’s Interview With Ryan Murphy Read More »

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EMMYS: Choreographing Sex Scenes In HBO’s ‘Normal Heart’

By | Tuesday June 10, 2014 @ 2:59pm PDT

Christy Grosz is an Awardsline contributor 

Mark Ruffalo, 'Normal Heart'When director Ryan Murphy met with choreographer Michael Arnold, the first question Murphy asked was, “So how did you get into this line of work?” That might have been merely an ice-breaker had Arnold been tapped to work on Murphy’s Fox series Glee, but this job was about re-creating the uninhibited sex-fueled parties of 1970s-era Fire Island for HBO’s The Normal Heart. After performing as a dancer in more than a dozen Broadway musicals, Arnold has parlayed his flair for movement into a new career as a sex-scene choreographer.  Awardsline logo_use this oneThe short answer about how he got started is the usual Hollywood networking story—albeit with a splash of Oscar gold—when a friend of a friend was looking for some help on Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street. “I got a call from (executive producer) Georgia Kacandes, and she said, ‘We’re going to do this gay orgy scene and it’s not really in Marty’s wheelhouse,’” says Arnold, who ultimately worked on two other scenes in the film, including the somewhat infamous bachelor party plane ride to Las Vegas. Read More »

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President Obama Fan Of HBO’s ‘The Normal Heart’

By | Monday June 9, 2014 @ 5:47pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

the-normal-hearthboRyan Murphy and Larry Kramer’s HBO movie The Normal Heart can count President Barack Obama among its supporters. I hear the president made a surprise call to Murphy today to tell him that he loved the film and found it incredibly moving. The two know each other — Murphy hosted a major fundraiser for Obama at his house in 2012 — but I hear the writer-director had no idea Obama had seen his HBO film about the onset of the HIV-AIDS crisis in New York City in thea early 1980s. I hear Obama asked how the movie came together. US-POLITICS-STATE OF THE UNION-OBAMAKramer had been trying to get his Tony-winning play adapted to the screen for three decades, with Murphy taking on what would become a passion project for him too in 2010. Murphy confirmed getting the call to Deadline, adding, “The whole movie is about Larry trying to get the attention of Washington and 30 years later, to get a call from the President is a full-circle moment.”… Read More »

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Critics’ Choice TV Awards Name Top New Series, Sets Ryan Murphy For Icon Honor

Nellie Andreeva

The Critics-Choice-TV-Awards-Logo1__140528145158-275x148 (1)Broadcast Television Journalists Assoc. spread the wealth among networks in its Most Exciting New Series category, which recognizes mostly upcoming series. This year’s list expanded to seven series, up from six last year, all on different networks. Underlying the struggles of the comedy genre, all shows on the list are dramas. The list is dominated by genre series, horror (Penny Dreadful, The Strain), sci-fi (Extant, The Leftovers) and fantasy/time travel (Outlander). It includes two series that already have premiered, Showtime’s Penny Dreadful, which already has been renewed for a second season, and AMC’s period drama Halt And Catch Fire. After CBS’ summer series Under The Dome, exec produced by Steven Spielberg, made the cut last year, the network’s new summer drama from Spielberg, Extant, has landed a nod this time, joined by one other broadcast series, Fox’s fall Batman prequel Gotham. The other entries are from former Lost co-showrunners Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse:  Lindelof’s HBO series The Leftovers and Cuse’s FX collaboration with Guillermo del Toro, The Strain. In addition to Under The Dome, last year’s most exciting new shows category featured Ray Donovan, Masters Of Sex, The Bridge, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and The Michael J. Fox Show.

Also announced today, Ryan Murphy will receive the Critics’ Choice LOUIS XIII Genius Award, established to honor an icon in the television industry. Last year, the prize, named Critics’ Choice Television Icon … Read More »

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EMMYS: Ryan Murphy Talks ‘Normal Heart’: “These Sets Always Felt Like Church”

The Normal Heart, Larry Kramer’s Tony Award-winning semi-autobiographical play, Awardsline logo_use this onechronicled the emergence of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in 1980s New York. After a Broadway revival in 2011—which featured Joe Mantello and Jim Parsons—small-screen visionary Ryan Murphy (Glee, American Horror Story) took on the huge task of adapting a movie version for HBO. Whether his Heart racks up Emmy noms doesn’t matter. Murphy did what he set out to do and made Kramer proud. Here, he opens up about the importance of the film—both to himself and to history—and also of how he and his cast of all-stars (Julia Roberts, Mark Ruffalo and Parsons, reprising his Broadway role) handled the script’s racier material.

ryan murphyAWARDSLINE: Was there a sense during production that something important was happening?
RYAN MURPHY: Yes. This was a 30-year journey, and there was a huge responsibility to get it right. I never have been involved in any production where there was absolute silence on the set. These sets always felt like church in that we all felt we were there (with) a combined energy to get the thing right. We wanted to do it for Larry (Kramer), and we wanted to do it for history. We wanted people to see this story and not forget.

AWARSDLINE: How much pressure did you feel during the casting process to match the right actor to each role?
MURPHY: Larry was … Read More »

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HBO’s ‘The Normal Heart’ Opens With 1.4 Million Tuned In

By | Tuesday May 27, 2014 @ 12:57pm PDT

normalheart2HBO FilmsThe Normal Heart delivered a solid 1.4 million viewers across two plays Sunday night. Debuting nearly three decades after Larry Kramer’s play premiered off-Broadway, the Ryan Murphy-directed project premiered at 9 PM with an average of slightly less than 1 million viewers tuned in; an additional 434,000 thousand watched at 11:15 PM. That puts it fifth in viewership among the 17 HBO Films that have premiered on the network since 2010.

(For comparison’s sake: In March 2012, Game Change, about the selection of Gov. Sarah Palin as Sen. John McCain’s runninHBO Filmsg mate in the 2008 presidential campaign, snagged an average of 2.1 million viewers on its debut night, which marked the biggest crowd for an HBO original film since 2004′s Something The Lord Made, which snared 2.6 million viewers. In May 2011, Too Big To Fail, about Washington’s bailout of Wall Street, logged 897,000 Live+Same Day viewers in its debut. And 2008′s Recount, about the 2000 presidential election, clocked 1 million viewers in Live+Same Day in May 2008.

Before 2004, Nielsen used to roll all seven HBO multiplex channels into one big number. With that in mind: Nielsen reported back in December 2003 that 4.2 million watched the debut of HBO’s Mike Nichols-directed Angels In America — a miniseries that, like The Normal Heart, was adapted from a play (by Tony Kushner), was set in 1980s … Read More »

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Hot TV Trailer: HBO’s ‘The Normal Heart’

By | Friday April 18, 2014 @ 5:12pm PDT

“To win a war, you have to start one.” This HBO telefilm arrives nearly three decades after Larry Kramer’s play premiered off-Broadway. Mark Ruffalo, Matt Bomer, Taylor Kitsch, Jim Parsons and Julia Roberts star in the adaptation directed by Ryan Murphy and scripted by Kramer. Set in NYC during the onset of the HIV/AIDS crisis of the early ’80s, The Normal Heart follows gay activists and their allies in the medical community as they try to expose the truth about the burgeoning epidemic. HBO already is looking into a sequel. The telepic, which co-stars Alfred Molina, Joe Mantello, Jonathan Groff, Denis O’Hare, Stephen Spinella, Corey Stoll, Finn Wittrock and BD Wong, bows May 25 on the premium channel. Here’s the first full trailer:

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‘Glee’s Final Season To Have New Location, Final Scene About Rachel & Will Schuester

By | Tuesday April 15, 2014 @ 12:54pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

131128143545-glee-group-season-5-story-topAfter departing McKinley High to move to New York fulltime for the latter part of this season, the musical dramedy looked destined to end its run in the Big Apple. That won’t be the case, Glee co-creator/executive producer Ryan Murphy said in a press call yesterday. “The final season is its own story in its own location; it is not New York-centric at all,” Murphy said, as reported by TVLine. “It really is a lovely, fitting season that dwells on the original people on the show and what happens to them and how they give back. … We’ll revisit some of the new kids that came and went, there’s a return of [Jane Lynch's Sue Sylvester] and [Matthew Morrison's Will Schuester] in a big way.”

Related: Ryan Murphy Confirms How ‘Glee’ Was Supposed To End

The sixth and final season of Fox‘s Glee will consist of 24 episodes, two of them carried over from this season, cut short by the sudden death of star Cory Monteith. The actor’s passing also changed Glee creators’ plans how to end the series, as their original ending featured Lea Michele’s Rachel returning to McKinley High and Monteith’s Finn. The new final scene idea “is about Rachel and Mr. Schue, and it returns them to their origins, their roots, how they felt about each other when they were much younger and everything … Read More »

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Ryan Murphy Options Rights To NY Times’ Bestseller ‘Empty Mansions’

By | Friday March 14, 2014 @ 3:16pm PDT

ryan murphy 2EXCLUSIVE: Director-writer Ryan Murphy has optioned the New York Times bestselling biography Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life Of Huguette Clark And The Spending Of A Great American Fortune written by Pulitzer-winning investigative reporter Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell Jr. The book, which has won critical acclaim (it’s on the favorite books list of NY Times critic Janet Maslin), is about the reclusive heiress Huguette Clark and her family. Co-author Newell, who is Clark’s cousin, was one of the few relatives ever to have spoken with her.

EmptyMansions_coverThis is yet another bestselling book-to-film project for Murphy, who optioned this through his own production company. It wouldn’t be surprising if Murphy decides to adapt and direct this one but for now his company only optioned it. Besides creating the TV series Nip/Tuck, Glee and American Horror Story, he wrote, produced and directed two feature films based on bestselling memoirs: Elizabeth Gilbert’s wildly popular Eat Pray Love (co-scripted with Jennifer Salt) which starred Julia Roberts and Javier Bardem in 2010, and Augusten Burroughs’ critical favorite Running With Scissors with Annette Bening and Brian Cox in 2006. This will be yet another strong female role about a very intriguing woman who led an interesting life.

Empty Mansions, which debuted September 10 from Ballantine Books to a No. 4 debut on the NYT bestseller’s list, remained on that list nine straight weeks. It also became the No. 1 bestselling nonfiction e-book in the U.S. and has been on the LA Times book list for 11 weeks. It was also chosen as one of the best books of last year by Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble and Goodreads.

Huguette1930.ss_full So what’s all the hubbub? It’s a fascinating read that slowly unfolds the mystery of a grand house left vacant and its reclusive resident to reveal an incredible life of the owners. Clark died in 2011 at 104, leaving behind a $310M+ fortune. She was the youngest daughter of W.A. Clark, who was born in a log cabin but became a powerful mining and banking magnate after discovering copper in Montana following the Civil War. He rose to such wealth and prominence that he helped to found Las Vegas. He also had high political aspirations which were dashed when it was discovered that he was bribing those in the Montana State Legislature for votes that put him in the U.S. Senate. In fact, the 17th Amendment — which changed voting of senators to office by state legislators to popular votes — was born from that crooked election. He died in 1925 at the age of 86 in New York and was known as one of the richest men in America. Read More »

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HBO’s ‘The Normal Heart’ To Debut May 25

By | Thursday February 27, 2014 @ 10:23am PST

normalheart5The Normal Heart will premiere on Sunday, May 25 at 9 PM on HBO, the network said today. Mark Ruffalo, Matt Bomer, Taylor Kitsch, Jim Parsons and Julia Roberts star in the HBO Films presentation based on Tony-winning Larry Kramer’s play. Kramer also penned the adaptation and Ryan Murphy directs the story of the onset of the HIV-AIDS crisis in New York City in the early 1980s. Alfred Molina, Joe Mantello, Jonathan Groff, Denis O’Hare, Stephen Spinella, Corey Stoll, Finn Wittrock and BD Wong also star.

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‘American Horror Story: Coven’ Wraps As Ratings Juggernaut

kathybatesDear Kathy Bates,

Me again – writing to make sure you’re aware that last night, the season finale of your FX miniseries American Horror Story: Coven attracted nearly 6 million viewers counting its premiere run and encores –  and that nearly 4 million of them were 18-49-year-olds.  Hope you’re also aware it’s the most watched AHS finale ever — 85% better than the AHS: Asylum finale in overall audience and 72% in the demo –  and that, overall, Coven is the most watched in the AHS franchise.

Related: Open Letter To Kathy Bates: Congrats On Skewing-Up NBC

Maybe more important to you. The full season ranks among the Top-20 shows on TV in delivery of 18-49 year olds, and among the Top 5 in cable.

The first run of the season finale episode delivered more than 4 million viewers — nearly 3 million of whom fell into that key age bracket. Of course, I’m sure you know initial numbers don’t tell the whole story, since your show is one of the more heavily DVR’d. And, through 10 weeks on a Live+7 basis, American Horror Story: Coven has averaged more than 7  million overall viewers and more than 5 million demo viewers, to rank as the No. 3 scripted drama in basic cable, behind only The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad. Read More »

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Jaimie Alexander To Co-Star In Ryan Murphy’s HBO Pilot ‘Open’

By | Wednesday January 22, 2014 @ 11:52am PST
Nellie Andreeva

alexanderEXCLUSIVE: Thor‘s Jaimie Alexander has joined Ryan Murphy‘s HBO pilot Open as a series regular. Additionally, Alexander is in negotiations to topline the indie Money Is Money with Luke Bracey. Open, which Murphy co-wrote with Lauren Gussis, is described as a modern, provocative exploration of human sexuality and relationships. It revolves around five central characters played by Michelle Monaghan, Scott Speedman, Wes Bentley, Anna Torv and Jennifer Jason Leigh. Alexander will play Claire, the postpartum-suffering, pill-popping Stepford wife of Evan (Bentley). Alexander was a finalist for the new female lead role on Fox/20th TV’s 24: Live Another Day that went to Yvonne Strahovski, but the studio loved her, leading to her casting in Open, from 20th TV’s cable division Fox 21. Alexander probably is  best known for playing Sif in Marvel’s Thor movie franchise, a role she will be reprising in an upcoming episode of ABC’s Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. She next will be seen in London Fields opposite Billy Bob Thornton. Money Is Money, directed by Gela Babluani and produced by Hubert Caillard and Rachael Horovitz, starts production in March in Detroit. Alexander is repped by Mosaic, WME and attorney Lev Ginsburg.

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HBO Eyes ‘The Normal Heart’ Sequel Written By Larry Kramer & Directed By Ryan Murphy

By | Friday January 10, 2014 @ 3:12pm PST
Nellie Andreeva

larrykramerryanmurphyEXCLUSIVE: 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.

juliaruffaloThe 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 »

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TCA: HBO’s ’80s-Set ‘The Normal Heart’ Very Modern, Says Ryan Murphy

By | Thursday January 9, 2014 @ 5:22pm PST

“It’s very modern to me,” Ryan Murphy said of his HBOTCADeadline__140109155905__140109183154 production of  the 1980′s-set The Normal Heart, based on Tony-winning Larry Kramer’s play about the onset of the 2014 Winter TCA Tour - Day 1HIV-AIDS crisis in New York City.  The play ends in ’84 before there was an HIV test; Murphy’s film is about 45% new material written by Kramer, he said.  “Gay marriage is in the news, and people are fighting to be loved for who they are and to be accepted for who they are. That’s still very modern and applicable for the way we’re living today.” Murphy said he had to take out a second mortgage on his house to pay for the rights to the play — then acknowledged he was kidding, but that the rights were pricey.

Related: HBO’s ‘Looking’ Not “Just A Show For Gay People,” Says EP

“I tried to be true to those boys I feel I owe so much to,” he said of the adaptation.  “I’m married and have a child. It feels like it’s a civil rights movie. That fight paved the way for the life I have today. It’s a very painful chapter in our lives. At the end of the movie we talk about President Reagan and his legacy, and Ed Koch and his legacy”  — without whom, Murphy said, the HIV-AIDS crisis “could have been much less tragic.” Read More »

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Ryan Murphy Confirms How ‘Glee’ Was Supposed To End

By | Monday December 23, 2013 @ 4:44pm PST
Nellie Andreeva

gleerachelfinnGlee co-creator Ryan Murphy has confirmed what we had already figured out — that the “happily ever after” for Rachel and Finn that Lea Michele laid out in the Cory Monteith tribute episode is how he planned to end Glee after six seasons. “Rachel was going to have become a big Broadway star, the role she was born to play,” Ryan said in his eulogy at Monteith’s July private memorial service, an excerpt of which was leaquarterbackpublished by Entertainment Weekly. “Finn was going to have become a teacher, settled down happily in Ohio, at peace with his choice and no longer feeling like a Lima loser. The very last line of dialogue was to be this: Rachel comes back to Ohio, fulfilled and yet not, and walks into Finn’s glee club. “What are you doing here?” he would ask. “I’m home,” she would reply. Fade out. The end.” That is exactly what Rachel described in her tearful monologue during The Quarterback.”

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Will ‘Glee’ Benefit From Spinoff Report, Despite Fox Denial?

By | Wednesday November 6, 2013 @ 6:44am PST

Fox denied Ryan Murphy had a Glee spinoff in the works for Lea Michele yesterday afternoon – hours after the Radar report had spread like wildfire among Gleeks. Murphy had already announced he would honor the series’ two-season order in the wake of star Cory Monteith’s death, and that next season would be its last. Murphy had also said he had originally envisioned Glee’s series-final scene with Monteith and Lea Michele’s characters – a plan that was dashed when Monteith died of an accidental heroin and alcohol overdose last summer. Before the spinoff report broke out, there had been some speculation Murphy would focus the final season of Glee on Michele’s character moving forward after Finn’s death. Murphy, meanwhile, is at work on his pilot, Open, for HBO, creating a new character in order to add Cheyenne Jackson, as a series regular, playing a handsome meth addict;  filming is set to begin in February.

RELATED: Cheyenne Jackson joins Ryan Murphy’s HBO pilot ‘Open’

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Cheyenne Jackson Joins Ryan Murphy/HBO Pilot ‘Open’, Jason O’Mara To Star In Matt Nix’s USA Pilot ‘Complications’

By | Tuesday November 5, 2013 @ 12:07pm PST
Nellie Andreeva

Cheyenne Jackson has become a late addition to Ryan Murphy‘s HBO pilot Open, from Fox 21. Jackson will be a series regular playing a new character I hear Murphy has created for him. Open, which Murphy co-wrote with Lauren Gussis, is described as a modern, provocative exploration of human sexuality and relationships. It centers on five central characters played by Michelle Monaghan, Scott Speedman, Wes Bentley, Anna Torv and Jennifer Jason Leigh. I hear Jackson plays a handsome meth addict. Filming is expected to begin in February. Jackson previously worked with Murphy on Glee where he did an arc. The actor, repped by ICM Partners and the Schiff Co., guest stars on the Lifetime pilot HR.

Jason O’Mara (Vegas, Terra Nova) has been cast as the lead in Matt Nix’s USA Network pilot Complications, a gritty medical drama centered around John Ellis (O’Mara), a disillusioned suburban ER doctor who finds his existence transformed when he intervenes in a drive-by shooting, saving a young boy’s life and killing one of his attackers. Fox TV Studios is producing.

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Ryan Murphy Confirms Plan To End ‘Glee’ Next Season, Talks Final Season Storyline Change Following Cory Monteith Death

By | Thursday October 17, 2013 @ 7:15am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Was the “happily ever after” for Rachel and Finn that Lea Michele laid out in the Cory Monteith tribute episode last week how Glee was supposed to end? With Rachel making it on Broadway (and maybe doing a Woody Allen movie) before returning to Ohio and walking into McKinley High where Finn was a teacher to tell him she was home. Talking to reporters at an FX event at the Paley Center last night, Ryan Murphy confirmed that the current two-year pickup of the musical dramedy is indeed designed to be its last, with the next and final sixth season originally built around Rachel and Finn’s story, according to TV Line. “I always knew that, I always knew how it would end. I knew what the last shot was — (Finn) was in it. I knew what the last line was — (Rachel) said it to him.” Monteith’s untimely death has changed all that. Murphy said he has a idea about a new ending that would be “kind of in (Cory’s) honor)”, which he is getting ready to pitch to Fox. Glee started its fifth season low before ratings rebounded with the episode dedicated to Monteith.

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‘American Horror Story’ Scares Up Record Ratings On FX

By | Thursday October 10, 2013 @ 12:07pm PDT

American Horror Story: Coven, aka Season 3 of Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk’s gleefully grisly FX anthology, opened with record-breaking crowds last night. About 5.54 million — and 3.87% of the country’s 18-49-year-olds –   tuned in to watch Kathy Bates give Jessica Lange a run for her scenery-chewing money as early 19th century New Orleans grand dame Madame LaLaurie who, when not leading society, kills time peeling the skin off the faces of her slaves, or turning them into minotaurs. It’s the most-watched telecast ever in the American Horror Story franchise — and, when Live+7 stats come around, stands a good chance of becoming the most-watched program in FX history. We feel compelled to note here that AHS: Coven got beat in its timeslot by — you know it’s coming — Duck Dynasty. The improbable A&E docu-soap hit clocked 7.4 million viewers — 4.02 million of them aged 18-49.

Read More »

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