Julia: Is Hunter Fox Based on a WGBH Employee?

Max’s ‘Julia,’ a biographical drama show, details the life and career of Julia Child, a pioneering Celebrity Chef from the 1960s. After essaying her first cookbook, ‘Mastering the Art of French Cooking,’ the woman initiates a career on television through her cooking show, ‘The French Chef.’ While the journey to the show’s success proves to be taxing, especially in the early days, it quickly becomes Julia’s ticket to fame, brandishing her as a household name across the country. In this undertaking, Julia is surrounded by the various crew and production personnel at WGBH, the TV Station where the chef finds her big break.

Hunter Fox, the WGBH President, is one of these people. The man has a hot-and-cold relationship with Julia and her show since its success directly correlates with his own career. Nonetheless, as the head of the station, Hunter occupies massive significance. As such, Hunter remains a crucial piece of the puzzle in Julia’s story within the show. Naturally, curiosity strikes regarding the character’s basis in reality and connection to the real-life Julia Child.

Hunter Fox is a Fictional Character

Despite ‘Julia’s’ firm connection to reality, Hunter Fox’s character remains a work of fiction without a real-life inspiration behind his character. As a dramatization of the real life of Julia Child, this show sports many characters with varying degrees of authenticity to their off-screen counterparts. Alternatively, some characters and events explored within the show remain fabrications stemming from the creative team’s imagination. Hunter Fox, the president of WGBH at the time of ‘The French Chef’s’ inception, is an example of the same.

In fact, the real-life Russ Morash, who was involved in the production of Julia’s cooking show as the first director, confirmed the same in an interview where he fact-checked the Max show, wherein his likeness is a primary character. When asked about the reality behind a man named Hunter Fox at WGBH during his time of employment, Morash said, “Don’t know him. False.”

As such, Hunter Fox’s fictionality as a character remains evident. While there was likely someone who headed the WGBH during the 1960s who was involved in the production and greenlighting of ‘The French Chef,’ the individual does not have any tangible connections with Robert Joy’s character, Hunter.

In fact, according to Morash, most details that build up Hunter’s significance within the show’s narrative are actually fictitious. For instance, Hunter’s most noticeable contribution to Julia’s story remains his positive reception of her show from the start, despite a lack of confidence from others. Furthermore, in the show, Julia has to pay for the show’s pilot from her own pocket and continues to shoulder the food and crew expenses. While fact-checking the show, Morash and Child’s great-nephew, Alex Prud’homme, who is a journalist and an author, refuted this claim. “She did not fund the show like they have it in the HBO Max series,” said the latter man.

Thus, we can conclude that many of the storylines surrounding Hunter’s character remain fictional in nature. The same further cements his own fictionality. Yet, the creative liberties taken with the television station through Hunter’s character and his involvement with ‘The French Chef’ ultimately infuse a thrilling drama into the overall show. Considering ‘Julia’ is a dramatization of real-life events foremost, instead of a documentary, these fabricated liberties end up being beneficial in the end.

By doing so, the show depicts the pushback and difficulties Julia must have faced in her time as a woman on TV, pioneering the cooking show genre as a whole. In order to do so, the script had to stray a bit from reality, and Hunter’s character proves to be the perfect tool for it. Thus, in a sea of characters inspired by real-life people with connections to Julia Child, Hunter Fox remains a fictional character born of creator Daniel Goldfarb, showrunner Chris Keyser, and their screenwriters’ imagination.

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