FX’s next American Crime Story will tackle former President Bill Clinton’s impeachment from the perspective of three women involved in the seismic sex-and-politics scandal.
The cable network announced Thursday the third edition of its acclaimed limited series anthology will be Impeachment: American Crime Story.
Three major pieces of casting are already in place: Beanie Feldstein (Booksmart) is set as former White House intern Monica Lewinsky, Emmy winner Sarah Paulson (American Horror Story) will play Lewinsky confidante Linda Tripp, and Annaleigh Ashford (Legally Blonde) will portray Clinton accuser Paula Jones.
According to FX, the series will focus on the various perspectives of a trio of female leads: “Impeachment: American Crime Story unravels the national scandal that swept up Paula Jones, Monica Lewinsky, and Linda Tripp as principal characters in the country’s first impeachment proceedings in over a century.”
The limited series is based on Jeffrey Toobin’s bestselling book A Vast Conspiracy: The Real Story of the Sex Scandal That Nearly Brought Down a President and is adapted by Sarah Burgess.
Lewinsky herself will serve as a producer on the show, along with the usual ACS legion of heavy hitter executive producers (Ryan Murphy, Nina Jacobson, Brad Simpson, Brad Falchuk, Larry Karaszewski, Scott Alexander, Alexis Martin Woodall, and Sarah Paulson).
The third installment of ACS is planned for next year, and follows up on the franchise’s 2016 blockbuster The People vs. O.J. Simpson (which also starred Paulson) and 2018’s The Assassination of Gianni Versace.
“FX’s American Crime Story franchise has become a cultural touchstone, providing greater context for stories that deserve greater understanding like the O.J. Simpson trial and saga, and Andrew Cunanan’s tragic crime spree which concluded with the assassination of Gianni Versace,” said FX Networks chairman John Landgraf. “This franchise re-examines some of the most complicated, polarizing stories in recent history in a way that is relevant, nuanced and entertaining. Impeachment: American Crime Story will likewise explore the overlooked dimensions of the women who found themselves caught up in the scandal and political war that cast a long shadow over the Clinton Presidency.”
The series will premiere on Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020 — a couple months before the next presidential election.
At the Television Critics Association’s press tour in Beverly Hills, Landgraf was pressed about the timing of the premiere, with some noting that it makes the pop-cultural conversation running up to the election a referendum on the Clintons. The executive issued a passionate defense of the project.
“Let me say something about the current environment,” Landgraf said. “When somebody writes, without even knowing what the script is … so this person knows what the show is, knows what the audience response is going to be, knows how it’s going to impact the election. This certainty that says, ‘We can’t have conversations, we can’t make art, we can’t have nuance. I won’t even wait to pronounce judgment on it’ — is toxic to the media environment. I believe very strongly in it. I’ve read [the ACS 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 from my standpoint. I’m insistent I’m going to support artists who are going to make great art and want to put it [on] at a time when people are going to watch it. I will stand up here as long as I’m here and I will stand for artists and stand for art.”
Clinton was impeached in 1998 in a 21-day Senate trial over a sexual relationship between the president and a then-22-year-old Lewinsky. The intern confided details of the relationship to her Defense Department co-worker Tripp who secretly recorded their conversations. Lewinsky initially denied any physical relationship with Clinton in an affidavit in a case where Jones accused Clinton of sexual harassment.