Beverly Hills, Calif. — The next installation of FX’s Emmy-winning American Crime Story anthology series grabbed the attention of reporters and critics at the Television Critics Association summer press tour in Beverly Hills on Tuesday, after the network announced it would focus on the impeachment of President Bill Clinton and debut the series on Sunday, Sept. 28, 2020, just before the next presidential election.
That immediately got people agitated on Twitter, and reporters brought those concerns to FX Networks Chairman John Landgraf, who responded: “The way we look at American Crime Story is as revisionist history. These are moments in time that involved crimes that can be looked at with more nuance in the fullness of time. I feel completely unabashed about my pride for American Crime Story and my feeling that this is a completely valid cycle of [the show]. There’s a nuance to this story that people do not know. People will be interested in this around the presidential election and it’s going to be a great show.”
The series, which is being written by playwright Sarah Burgess and adapted from Jeffrey Toobin’s best-selling book A Vast Conspiracy: The Real Story of the Sex Scandal That Nearly Brought Down a President, already has been largely cast. It looks at the events surrounding the Clinton impeachment from the eyes of the women involved with Sarah Paulson playing Linda Tripp, Beanie Feldstein playing Monica Lewinsky and Annaleigh Ashford appearing as Paula Jones. Lewinsky is serving as a producer on the series.
Burgess is executive producing along with Ryan Murphy, Nina Jacobson, Brad Simpson, Brad Falchuk, Larry Karaszewski, Scott Alexander, Alexis Martin Woodall and Paulson. Monica Lewinsky is serving as a producer along with Henrietta Conrad and Jemima Khan.
Landgraf usually provides his take on the state of the industry during his biannual TCA address, but this time around he mostly focused on the slate of programs that are coming to FX, which includes Mrs. America, starring Cate Blanchett as Phyllis Schlafly in her first role for American television; Devs, starring Nick Offerman; The Old Man starring Jeff Bridges and several more.
Landgraf did note that there are 520 scripted original series on TV by FX’s current count, and he challenged anyone in the room to be able to keep track of them all: “I said we were making too much television -- how long ago was that? I stand by that statement then and I stand by it now. There’s an oversupply and then there’s a flight to quality.”
It’s that position that FX is defending with its slate of original series, limited series and an expanded slate of non-fiction shows after this summer’s debut of The Weekly in partnership with The New York Times and Hulu.
The network is planning five new docuseries and one documentary feature. The series include Outlaw: The Saga of Afeni and Tupac Shakur; A Wilderness of Error, based on Errol Morris’ novel; Pride; Hip Hop Untold; The Most Dangerous Animal of All; and feature-length documentary Women in Comedy.
“FX has long sought to give artists a platform to showcase their individual, uncompromising vision and its new docuseries and features are an opportunity to extend that ambition in our collaboration with non-fiction talent,” said Nick Grad, president, FX Entertainment, in a statement. “It’s been tremendously rewarding to partner with The New York Times and Hulu on The Weekly, which has excelled creatively and is hitting series-high ratings. Under the guidance of FX’s Jonathan Frank and J.J. Klein, we are now honored to partner with these new teams to create docuseries and features that will join FX’s legacy of fearless and groundbreaking programming.”
FX also made the following announcements during its day at TCA:
The network has added a fourth season to its Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning series, Atlanta, created by and starring Donald Glover.
Both seasons three and four -- each comprising eight episodes -- are scheduled to be produced next spring. Season three of the critically acclaimed series was ordered a year ago, but FX has been flexible with the show due to Glover’s demanding schedule.
Atlanta is executive produced by Glover, Paul Simms, Dianne McGunigle, Stephen Glover and Hiro Murai. Atlanta is produced by FX Productions, which is now a part of Disney.
“What more can be said about Atlanta than the critical acclaim and accolades that Donald, Paul, Dianne, Stephen and Hiro have earned for two exceptional seasons of what is clearly one of the best shows on television,” said Schrier in a statement. “This group of collaborators and cast have created one of the most original, innovative stories of this generation and we are proud to be their partners.”
Asked to provide a little more detail on the show, Landgraf said Glover clearly had plans for a fourth season or else he wouldn’t have asked for it, but he couldn’t elaborate further.
The network also has renewed drama Snowfall for season four after co-creator John Singleton died of a stroke at the age of 51 earlier this year.
“Snowfall has continued its creative leap forward this season with the hard work and contributions of John Singleton and the brilliant performance of Damson Idris,” said Nick Grad, president, FX Entertainment, in a statement. “We are grateful to Dave Andron, Thomas Schlamme, Michael London, Trevor Engelson and Walter Mosley for honoring John’s legacy through their commitment to building on the artistic excellence of Snowfall with a fourth season on FX.”