Work on the series began in the fall of 2020, said Kathleen Lingo, The Times’s editorial director for film and TV and an executive producer on the project. “It was an opportunity not just to retell the story as it appeared in the magazine, but to expand the timeline into additional events,” she said. “You really get to see how the Murdoch family’s presence in world events played out over so many decades.”
Mr. Mahler and Mr. Rutenberg met weekly with the showrunner of the series, Erica Sashin, and a team from Left/Right to work on the script. They took an expanded look at the formative years of the family patriarch and founder of News Corp, Rupert Murdoch, in Toorak, a neighborhood of Melbourne, Australia. The show also grew to include developments since the magazine investigation was published, such as the 2021 Capitol riot and how Fox News, which Mr. Murdoch founded and is now run by his son Lachlan, covered the events that day.
The television editing process took some getting used to, Mr. Rutenberg said.
“It’s much harder to go in and tinker,” he said. “If we wanted to edit anything, we had to get in touch with their editors, who’d have to rearrange the timing of the whole episode.”
But there were aspects the two men relished about the documentary format.
“With a documentary, you can be a little more expansive,” Mr. Mahler said. “We hadn’t had room to get into things in the magazine series that were just a little too tangential, like the strike at Rupert’s plant in Wapping,” he added, citing a workers’ dispute in London, “or the story of the daughter, Elisabeth Murdoch,” Those are topics that they are able to explore in the series.
The TV format also lent the opportunity to transport viewers to important scenes in the Murdoch family history via archival images and video footage.