Cable network FX has ordered a third chapter of Ryan Murphy’s award-winning “American Crime Story” series, this one about the 1998 impeachment of President Bill Clinton — with Monica Lewinsky as one of the show’s producers.
The network said last week that the limited series, titled “Impeachment,” will star Beanie Feldstein (“Booksmart”) as Lewinsky, the White House intern who had an affair with Clinton in the mid-1990s. Emmy winner Sarah Paulson, a longtime star of Murphy’s TV shows, will play Linda Tripp, the government whistleblower who secretly recorded phone calls in which Lewinsky described her relationship with the president.
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.
FX Chairman John Landgraf defended the choice as “a valid story cycle” at the Television Critics Association summer press tour in Beverly Hills, Calif. “There’s a lot of nuance in this story that people don’t know,” he said. “People are going to be very interested in this, and it’s going to be a great show.”
“Impeachment,” based on a book by reporter Jeffrey Toobin (with a script 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 scandal, Landgraf said, perspectives on the story — particularly from Lewinsky’s point of view — have shifted 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,” he said. “What brought [the idea] back around was Sarah Burgess’ script [and her] reinterpretation of the material through the prism of these women.”
Although the role of the president has not yet been cast, FX said Broadway star Annaleigh Ashford will play Paula Jones, the Arkansas 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 had announced plans to make a series about the aftermath of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, but that project was shelved.