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Here Are 5 Real-Life Families That Could Have Inspired This New HBO Show About Rich Family Feuds

Succession follows a domineering patriarch and his squabbling children.
IMAGE CRAIG BLANKENHORN/HBO
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Jesse Armstrong, the creator, executive producer and showrunner of Succession, has said that the characters on the new HBO show are a fictional family. But a few years ago Armstrong also wrote a screenplay about the inner workings of the Murdoch family that was never produced, so that comparison is inevitable. In addition to the Murdochs, here are a few families that may have provided some inspiration for the business-focused brood on the show.

The Murdochs


Similarities: Both families have an aging patriarch who has stayed at his company well past standard retirement age (Murdoch, 87, stepped back into the role of chairman of Fox News after Roger Ailes's ouster). James Murdoch, 45, is now the CEO of 21st Century Fox, and his 46-year-old brother, Lachlan (all three are pictured here together in 2016), is the executive chairman of Nova Entertainment and executive co-chairman of News Corp and 21st Century Fox. Their older sisters, Elisabeth and Prudence, are also media executive in the United Kingdom and Australia, respectively.

Rupert Murdoch and his wife Anna with their children Lachlan, James, and Elisabeth in 1989.


Differences: While the first episode of Succession shows the Roy family traveling in a fleet of helicopters, it's not clear that they have as much money as the $16 billion that Forbes estimates the Murdochs are worth.

The Redstones


Similarities: Like the Roys, the Redstones control a media conglomerate. Through their National Amusements holding company, the family controls majority stakes in CBS and Viacom. There's also been some real-life succession drama: Shari Redstone, the 64-year-old daughter of patriarch Sumner, filed a lawsuit on May 29 that alleges CBS has inappropriately attempted to strip her of control of that company. (The suit was a response to one filed by CBS CEO Leslie Moonves on May 14.)

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Sumner Redstone, his daughter Shari, and his grandaughter Kim in 2003.


Differences: Sumner Redstone is 95, and in February 2016 he relinquished his chairmanships of CBS and Viacom after a court-ordered examination by a geriatric psychiatrist. Logan Roy isn't there yet.

The Hearsts


Similarities: All of William Randolph Hearst's five sons followed the newspaper mogul into the family business. (He's pictured left with his infant son William Jr. in 1908.)

Differences: The family-owned Hearst corporation, which owns more than 360 businesses (including Town & Country), was established on March 4, 1887, when William Randolph Hearst put his name on the masthead of the San Francisco Examiner. The company has been passed down through three generations, and his grandson William Randolph Hearst III is now its chairman.

The Maxwells


Similarities: British publishing magnate Robert Maxwell (pictured with a young prince William and Prince Charles in 1985) built a newspaper empire that included the New York Daily News, and like the Roys, the patriarch's sons (Ian and Kevin Maxwell in this case) worked for the family company.

Differences: Maxwell's suspicious death on a yacht in the Canary Islands in 1991 triggered a meltdown at the family company, which filed for bankruptcy protection the following year.

The Trumps


Similarities: The Trumps might be the most significant succession story of our time; after he won the presidency, Donald Trump passed control of the Trump Organization to his sons Don Jr. and Eric.

Differences: Politics aren't part of Succession yet—at least not based on the activities depicted in the first episode.

This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.

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Sam Dangremond
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