Succession is getting under the skin of the Murdoch family, according to a new Vanity Fair profile about media mogul Rupert Murdoch.
According to writer Gabriel Sherman’s sources, members of the Murdoch family are sensitive about the idea that someone in the inner circle may be leaking story ideas to Succession — and one source says Lachlan Murdoch, the eldest son of Rupert Murdoch, accused his younger brother James Murdoch of being the one giving ideas to the HBO drama.
Succession follows Roy family siblings Kendall (Jeremy Strong), Roman (Kieran Culkin) and Shiv (Sarah Snook) as they squabble and scheme over who will take over their aging father Logan Roy’s multi-billion dollar media conglomerate, Waystar Royco, when he dies.
Which Murdoch Family Member Might Be Talking to Succession?
Sherman writes in Vanity Fair: “Lachlan [Murdoch] told Rupert [Murdoch] that James [Murdoch] was leaking stories to the writers of Succession, HBO’s acclaimed drama about a Murdoch-like media dynasty.”
Sherman added that a “person close to Lachlan denies Lachlan told Rupert this.”
The Vanity Fair story also reports that Rupert Murdoch’s former wife, Jerry Hall, was forbidden by the terms of their divorce settlement from giving story ideas to Succession writers.
Reps for Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch at News Corp did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Nor did reps for James Murdoch at his company, Lupa Systems. MovieMaker also reached out to reps for Succession regarding whether the show acknowledges any similarities to the real-life Murdoch family, and did not immediately hear back.
Warning: Spoilers are incoming for the fourth and final season of Succession.
The latest episode of Succession, called “Connor’s Wedding,” aired on Sunday and provided perhaps the most shocking plot twist of the show so far: the death of Logan Roy (Bryan Cox), the media magnate widely believed to be inspired in part by Rupert Murdoch.
It goes without saying that Waystar Royco, as pretty much everyone has noticed, seems to be a fictionalized version of the Murdoch family’s News Corp. Pierce Global Media has no obvious real-world equivalent, but the closest is the New York Times Company.
If Logan is loosely based on Rupert Murdoch, then it would follow that Kendall would be loosely based on the eldest Murdoch son, Lachlan, while Shiv would be the fictional equivalent of Elisabeth Murdoch, while Roman could be interepreted as the show’s version of the younger Murdoch brother, James Murdoch.
Logan’s death on Succession leaves several questions for the show to resolve by the end of this season, its fourth and last. Among them:
— Will Waystar Royco remain intact, or will they sell off major assets to the snake-like Lukas Matsson (Alexander Skarsgård)? And will Matsson even deal with Waystar Royco now, considering that the Roy siblings have decided to align with Sandy (Larry Pine) and Stewy (Arian Moayed), never a good idea, and go against Matsson’s warnings — and their father’s wishes — by attempting to squeeze more money from the deal in the final hour?
— What will become of the $10 billion deal that Shiv, Kendall, and Roman have made with Pierce Global Media? Perhaps $10 billion wasn’t a stupid amount to pay, after all — or maybe it was. That remains to be seen.
— Will Shiv and Kendall find out that Roman was working behind their backs with their father just before he died?
— Will squabbles ensue about Logan’s will now that’s he’s gone? Will the siblings come together, or will this tear them apart once and for all?
We’ll surely get more answers, though likely not all, in the next episode airing this Sunday night on HBO.
Main Image: Kieran Culkin as Roman Roy in Season 4, Episode 3 of Succession. Photograph by Macall B. Polay/HBO