BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Cable network FX has ordered a third chapter of Ryan Murphy’s award-winning “American Crime Story” series, this time about the 1998 impeachment of President Bill Clinton — with Monica Lewinsky as one of the show’s producers.
Online criticism almost immediately followed FX's announcement of the series, with some Twitter users complaining that the network's intended premiere date of Sept. 27, 2020, could affect the final stretch of the presidential campaign.
“This is a completely valid [story] cycle for ‘American Crime Story,’ ” FX chairman John Landgraf said at the Television Critics Association summer press tour here. Landgraf added that the social media environment is too quick to get outraged over a TV show it hasn’t seen.
“I believe very, very strongly in what we’re making,” Landgraf added. “I don’t believe it’s going to determine who’s the next president of the United States . . . There’s a lot of nuance in this story that people don’t know. People are going to be very interested in this, and it’s going to be a great show.”
“Impeachment,” based on legal reporter Jeffrey Toobin’s 2000 book, “A Vast Conspiracy: The Real Story of the Sex Scandal That Nearly Brought Down a President,” and a script written by playwright Sarah Burgess, aims to tell the Clinton scandal saga from the perspective of the women at the center of it.
Since Murphy and his production team first floated the idea of a drama series about the Clinton scandal a few years ago, Landgraf said perspectives on the story — particularly from Lewinsky’s point of view — have shifted public opinion in a compelling way.
“If you went back and saw the way that story was covered at the time, the way we perceive many aspects of it has really been transformed,” Landgraf said. “What brought [the idea] back around was Sarah Burgess’s script [and her] reinterpretation of the material through the prism of these women.”
Landgraf said he’s pleased that Lewinsky agreed to sign on as a producer: “The fact that Monica herself wants to be involved in it maybe tells you something about the quality of the material.”
Although the role of the president has not yet been cast, FX also announced that Broadway star Annaleigh Ashford will play Paula Jones, the Arkansas state employee who sued Clinton for sexual harassment. “Impeachment” will go into production next year.
The previous chapters of “American Crime Story” are the critically acclaimed “The People v. O.J. Simpson” and “The Assassination of Gianni Versace.” Murphy and company had previously announced plans to make a series about the aftermath of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, but it was ultimately shelved.