Creativity 50 2011: Ryan Murphy

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Ryan Murphy
Ryan Murphy

"Popular" is the name of Ryan Murphy's first TV series (a WB drama that retains a cult following a decade after its cancellation), but it also describes his newfound cultural status. The creator of "Glee" has made a bold, musical show about high school into something even bigger.

The series has played a key role in advancing the national conversation around issues like homosexuality and teen bullying, cemented the Hollywood careers of actors like Jane Lynch, Matthew Morrison, Lea Michele and Chris Colfer (not to mention guest star Gwyneth Paltrow), and helped partners Fox and Sony Music sell a lot of music.

The "Glee" cast has charted more than 130 singles on the Billboard Hot 100, beating Elvis Presley's record (108) for most chart entries by a single artist. Last summer's four-city concert tour sold out in nearly 30 minutes, this summer brings a 16-city tour. A 3-D concert film is set for theaters this August, and a spinoff reality show, "The Glee Project," soon debuts on Oxygen.

The show itself reaches a 9.5 million to 11 million viewers a week, scored Busby Berkeley music-video integration from Chevrolet and generated more than $150 million in ad revenue for Fox. It's no wonder that FX, the network that aired Mr. Murphy's previous hit "Nip/Tuck," is racing to produce his next quirky drama, "An American Horror Story."

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