By 2018, mega-producer Ryan Murphy had optioned A Vast Conspiracy: The Real Sex Scandal that Nearly Brought Down a President, Jeffrey Toobin’s book about Bill Clinton’s relationship with Monica Lewinsky and subsequent impeachment proceedings, but was having second thoughts.
Murphy ran into Lewinsky at a party, and said as much. “I told her, ‘Nobody should tell your story but you, and it’s kind of gross if they do,'” he told the Hollywood Reporter. “‘If you want to produce it with me, I would love that; but you should be the producer and you should make all the goddamn money.'”
His wish came true. Lewinsky is producing the third installment of FX’s Murphy-produced American Crime Story, and is presumably making all the goddamn money. Here’s what we know about the upcoming miniseries.
Edie Falco was cast as Hillary Clinton.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Falco had been in talks for the role for months before officially signing on. FX chief John Landgraf had previously told the publication that Hillary Clinton would not be “one of the main characters” in the series; it’s not clear if that’s still the case.
Production has been stop and start amid the pandemic.
Last year, Murphy told Collider that the series had been scheduled to start production in late April, before being postponed amid the pandemic. Months later, in November, Sarah Paulson revealed that principal photography had begun on the series, sharing a photo of herself in costume as Linda Tripp on Twitter.
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Then, in mid-December, production was halted after positive cases of COVID-19 were reported on the set, per Variety. It has since resumed once again, and both Beanie Feldstein and Paulson have been spotted on set.
The cast is stacked.
Beanie Feldstein is set to play Monica Lewinsky. Feldstein has quickly become a rising star in Hollywood, after her breakout roles in Booksmart and Lady Bird.
Clive Owen will take on the role of Bill Clinton. Owen—known for his Academy Award-nominated work in Closer, as well as starring in Children of Men and Inside Man—is set to play the embattled former president, per Variety.
They’ll share the screen with Sarah Paulson as Linda Tripp, and Annaleigh Ashford as Paula Jones, and Billy Eichner as Matt Drudge, the infamous founder of the Drudge Report.
Lewinsky was hesitant at first to sign on, but is now “involved with every script.”
“People have been co-opting and telling my part in this story for decades,” Lewinsky told Vanity Fair. “In fact, it wasn’t until the past few years that I’ve been able to fully reclaim my narrative; almost 20 years later.”
She added, “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.”
Lewinsky is apparently quite involved in the production, going beyond high level producing. “She’s involved with every script, gives a lot of insights and thoughts,” Murphy told Variety. He added, “The great thing about the story that we’re telling is it’s Monica’s story, which I think needs to be told. Just like [in ‘The People v. O.J. Simpson’] we showed Marcia Clark in a different way, that’s what we’re doing with Monica.”
Murphy reiterated his excitement about Lewinsky’s involvement in the production to Collider, noting the importance in having Lewinsky’s version of events play out onscreen. “I think that she’s earned the right to be able to tell her story, how she wants to tell it,” Murphy said. “And I think her version of what happened and the facts will be very startling to people, and I think it’s important. I love and care for her as a person.”
Impeachment will offer a much-needed reexamination of the scandal.
FX CEO John Landgraf said the show will highlight “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 book is being adapted for the miniseries by playwright Sarah Burgess.
The premiere date is up in the air.
The first episode was originally slated to air in September 2020 on FX—but given the coronavirus-caused production delays, that date was scrapped. It’s no longer clear when the series will land.
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