Anyone who knows even the basic plotline of Succession can’t help but imagine that the show was at least partially inspired by Rupert Murdoch and the very public succession battle his kids—Lachlan, James, Elisabeth, and Prudence—have engaged in. Rupert—the billionaire media mogul whose vast empire of properties includes Fox News, The Wall Street Journal, and The Sun—sees the similarities, too. To the point that he mentioned the hit HBO series by name in his divorce settlement with Jerry Hall, the most recent of his four ex-wives.
As Vanity Fair reports, the show’s mere existence is an annoyance to Rupert, who seems to believe that members of his inner circle could be sharing stories with Succession’s writing staff. As Gabriel Sherman writes for Vanity Fair:
One source said Rupert got word to James that it would mean a lot if James attended his 90th birthday party, but James didn’t go. According to another source, Lachlan told Rupert that James was leaking stories to the writers of Succession, HBO’s acclaimed drama about a Murdoch-like media dynasty. (The person close to Lachlan denies Lachlan told Rupert this.) A person close to James said he and Kathryn believed PR operatives aligned with Rupert and Lachlan were digging up dirt on them. Lachlan, meanwhile, had to flee Los Angeles because the Murdoch legacy was so toxic. According to two sources, Lachlan’s family was ostracized in LA because of Fox News’s climate change denialism. Lachlan moved his family back to Australia in March 2021. Elisabeth had crises of her own. In 2014, she and PR guru Matthew Freud filed for divorce after 13 years of marriage.
But Rupert’s Succession obsession didn’t end there. In the summer of 2022, Hall was at the couple’s estate in Oxfordshire awaiting her husband’s arrival when she received an email from the then 91-year old… that he was divorcing her. “We have certainly had some good times, but I have much to do,” read the email. (Hall said she was blindsided.)
When the actual divorce happened two months later, Vanity Fair reports that “One of the terms of the settlement was that Hall couldn’t give story ideas to the writers on Succession.” As if that doesn’t sound like a Logan Roy move, this one will: Following their divorce, Hall was back at the home in Oxfordshire—which she was given in the divorce—and discovered that her near-every move was being filmed by surveillance cameras, with the footage being sent on to Fox News. So Hall had to get her own ex involved. “Mick Jagger sent his security consultant to disconnect them,” writes Sherman.
(Via Vanity Fair)