The next chapter of FX’s American Crime Story will dramatize Bill Clinton’s impeachment with a focus on Monica Lewinsky, Linda Tripp and other women central to the scandal.
The miniseries will air within weeks of the 2020 presidential election.
Monica Lewinsky, who was a White House intern when she had an affair with Bill Clinton, will be a producer on the project, FX Networks CEO John Landgraf said, announcing the project at a Television Critics Association meeting on Tuesday. Clinton initially denied the affair before admitting to it in 1998.
The series is scheduled to air on September 27, 2020, about five weeks before the November 3 election. Landgraf defended the timing and cautioned those who might judge the project.
“I believe very, very strongly in what we’re making. I’ve read it (the script), I think it’s great. I don’t believe it’s going to determine who’s the next president of the United States. I think that’s a little hysterical,” he said.
American Crime Story producers, including Ryan Murphy, have brought nuance and perspective to events dramatized in the series’ previous installments, The People v. O.J. Simpson and The Assassination of Gianni Versace, Landgraf said.
“I’m insistent that I’m going to support artistes who want to make great art,” he said, and their desire to “put it at the time and place where people are going to watch it.”
In a statement to Vanity Fair magazine published online on Tuesday, Monica Lewinsky said her initial hesitation at joining the project was overcome after Ryan Murphy demonstrated “how dedicated he is to giving a voice to the marginalized in all of his brilliant work.”
“People have been co-opting and telling my part in this story for decades. In fact, it wasn’t until the past few years that I’ve been able to fully reclaim my narrative,” Lewinsky said.
Beanie Feldstein (Booksmart) portrays Lewinsky, with Emmy-winning American Crime Story alumna Sarah Paulson as Tripp, whose secretly recorded tapes triggered the scandal. Annaleigh Ashford plays Paula Jones, who accused Clinton of unwanted sexual advances. Additional casting, including for the former president, was not announced.
The passage of time and the rise of the #MeToo movement have changed how women whose lives were entwined in the scandal are perceived, Landgraf said. He credited writer Sarah Burgess’ interpretation of the story from their viewpoint with getting the project back on track after a pause.
Lewinsky’s involvement is evidence of the quality of the material and the “vibrancy of this sort of revisionist history that that material can provide now,” he said. Asked about FX’s standards for fact-checking, he expressed confidence that there would be a careful filter on the drama’s accuracy.
The miniseries is based on a 1999 book by Jeffrey Toobin, “A Vast Conspiracy: The Real Story of the Sex Scandal That Nearly Brought Down a President.”