BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — FX is reviving plans for a third installment of its award-winning "American Crime Story" franchise that centers on the Monica Lewinsky scandal and 1998 impeachment of President Bill Clinton.
Murphy repertory veteran Sarah Paulson ("American Horror Story") will play Linda Tripp, the treacherous government employee who secretly recorded conversations with Lewinsky. And Broadway actress Annaleigh Ashford ("Masters of Sex") has been cast as Paula Jones, who sued Clinton for harassment, a move that led to his impeachment by the House of Representatives. (The role of Clinton has not been cast.)
The project was shelved last year, but FX Networks chairman John Landgraf tells USA TODAY that it's being revived because writer Sarah Burgess conceived of a new "feminist" take on the script that tells the story from the women's points of view.
Lewinsky was recently brought on board as a producer, which helped revive it. In a statement to Vanity Fair, she said:
"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; almost 20 years later. But I'm so grateful for the growth we've made as a society that allows people like me who have been historically silenced to finally reintroduce my voice to the conversation. This isn't just a me problem. Powerful people, often men, take advantage of those subordinate to them in myriad ways all the time. Many people will see this as such a story and for that reason, this narrative is one that is, regretfully, evergreen."
The third "Crime Story" explores "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," he says in a statement.
Still, the project could spark controversy given the current political climate and Democratic calls for President Donald Trump's impeachment.
Burgess will executive produce the series along with Ryan Murphy and his team of producers, including Brad Falchuk, Brad Simpson and Nina Jacobson, who were involved in the previous installments. The limited series will begin production in February, and in an unusual move, FX has already set a premiere date of Sept. 27, 2020, just weeks before the next presidential election.
Asked about the timing, Landgraf said: "The way we look at 'American Crime Story' is as revisionist history. It's a moment of time that can be looked at with much more complexity, much more nuance. People are gong to be very interested in this before the presidential election, and it’s going to be a great show."
FX's two previous seasons of "Crime Story," "The People v. O.J. Simpson" in 2016 and "The Assassination of Gianni Versace" in 2018, won a combined 16 Emmy Awards, including outstanding limited series for both. But a planned season on Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath was plagued by script problems and then shelved. Last August, FX chief John Landgraf said Murphy had decided the Clinton-Lewinsky project was "off," but was unready to pronounce it dead.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'American Crime Story' tackles Clinton impeachment in third season