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May 08, 2017

The Creators of Stranger Things Reveal the Entertainment Icons That Inspired the Worldwide Pop-Culture Phenomenon in the Latest Issue of Emmy Magazine

As the cast and crew of Netflix's smash hit Stranger Things are hard at work on the highly anticipated second season, the series' young actors continue to captivate audiences around the world. In the latest issue of emmy magazine, the show's creators reveal who inspired one of the most talked-about series of 2016 and why they brought the story to television. The award-winning official publication of the Television Academy hits newsstands May 16.

Before the supernatural smash was Google's most searched-for television show of 2016, its sibling creators, Ross and Matt Duffer, had envisioned it as a movie that paid tribute to two pop-culture icons. The Duffer brothers, who had only one unreleased horror film to their credit, conceived Stranger Things as an homage to "the two Stevens/Stephens with different spellings — Spielberg and King," Matt Duffer tells emmy.

The brothers have had a lifelong obsession with movies, but getting the project off the ground was no easy task. Eventually, after many failed pitches to major studios, they decided to shift their efforts toward television. "Growing up, I associated television with Who Wants to be a Millionaire?," said Ross Duffer. "Like, I'm done with homework and it's something to pass the time." After seeing the trailer for HBO's True Detective, the Duffers changed their minds. "This is actually the cooler place to be right now, given the current state of the industry," Ross tells emmy. Now streamed in 190 countries, the show is a bona fide pop culture phenomenon, and its cast is beloved around the globe.

Chosen from over 1,000 hopefuls, the young cast, led by Millie Bobby Brown, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Noah Schnapp and Finn Wolfhard, are still adjusting to worldwide fame. The critically-acclaimed first season of Stranger Things made them international stars, and being recognized by people they have long admired has become the norm. Fifteen-year-old McLaughlin vividly remembers meeting former president Barack Obama. "He's like, 'I like the bond the boys have on the show. They never gave up looking for their friend,'" recalls McLaughlin. Fourteen-year-old Matarazzo was especially excited to meet actress Sarah Paulson. "She's a wonderful person, and to hear compliments from her, it was like, 'Wow,'" he enthuses.

Additional feature highlights from the new issue include:

  • In "The Conjuring," emmy talks to Robert De Niro about his decision to play Bernie Madoff, the fraudster behind the biggest Ponzi scheme in U.S. history, in HBO's upcoming Barry Levinson-directed telefilm The Wizard of Lies.
  • In "Art of Darkness," Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, married showrunners of HBO's Westworld, reflect on the hit show's ambitious first season and what to expect in season two, scheduled to premiere in 2018.
  • American Ninja Warrior remains one of the most popular competition hours on television by presenting its elaborate obstacle courses as a metaphor for overcoming both mental and physical obstacles in life. In "Ninja Nights," emmy gives readers an inside look at the admired NBC series.

Readers can catch behind-the-scenes video of the cover shoot with the cast of Stranger Things on

Emmy, the official publication of the Television Academy, goes behind the scenes of the industry for a unique insider's view. It showcases the scope of television and profiles the people who make TV happen, from the stars of top shows to the pros behind the cameras, covering programming trends and advances in technology. Honored consistently for excellence, emmy is a six-time Maggie Award winner as Best Trade Publication in Communications or the Arts and has collected 52 Maggies from the Western Publishing Association. Emmy is available on selected newsstands and at for single-print and digital copies as well as subscriptions.

Download the press release here.

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For issue/coverage contacts:

Carla Schalman       

Stephanie Goodell  

breakwhitelight for the Television Academy

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