With seasons two and three of FX anthology American Crime Story already in the works, showrunner Ryan Murphy is eyeing the franchise's future beyond that.
Murphy has set his sights on exploring the Monica Lewinsky scandal for a subsequent season of the franchise, The Hollywood Reporter has learned. To that end, Murphy and American Crime Story producers Fox 21 Television Studios and FX Productions have optioned author Jeffrey Toobin's 2000 best-seller A Vast Conspiracy: The Real Sex Scandal That Nearly Brought Down a President as source material. Toobin's book The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson served as the inspiration for the Emmy-winning first season of the anthology. Toobin was deeply involved in the first season and served as a consultant to the writing staff.
Sources tell THR that Murphy and producers are fast-tracking the drama and already are meeting with actresses to portray Lewinsky and colleague Linda Tripp, who secretly recorded Lewinsky's conversations about her alleged affair with then-President Bill Clinton. Lewinsky claimed to have intimate relations with Clinton between November 1995 and March 1997. The scandal and its repercussions included impeachment hearings. Clinton was ultimately acquitted by the Senate, while two other charges of perjury and abuse of power failed in the House.
The news comes as People v. O.J. Simpson has become a breakout ratings and critical hit for FX and as true-crime-inspired series continue to be hot among broadcasters, cable, premium and streaming services following the success of other shows such as HBO's The Jinx, Netflix's Making a Murderer and more. NBC also is plotting its own true-crime anthology with Dick Wolf's Law & Order: True Crime, whose first season focuses on The Menendez Brothers. CBS, meanwhile, is developing a Patty Hearst project, and even popular podcast Serial is in development at People v. O.J. producers 20th Century Fox TV, via its Fox 21 banner. For its part, Netflix is revisiting Making a Murderer with an additional episode order as other nets plot forays into the Waco and Chandra Levy cases, among others.
Season two of Murphy and Brad Falchuk's American Crime Story will focus on Hurricane Katrina and is expected in 2018, with season three exploring the July 1997 assassination of legendary designer Gianni Versace. (Murphy last week shot down reports that Lady Gaga would have a role as Donatella Versace in the latter.) Production on both seasons is underway, with the Versace season targeted to debut six months after the Katrina installment. All future seasons of the franchise will continue to be produced by Murphy and Falchuk, as well as Nina Jacobson and Brad Simpson's Color Force banner.
Toobin's Vast Conspiracy, published by Touchstone, is considered a definitive history of the Lewinsky scandal. Publishers Weekly said in its review that "Toobin has risen to the challenge of rendering the chaos of the impeachment, what led up to it and its denouement, in a sharp prose style and in a manner that makes sense of a disastrous phase of American political history."
The news comes at a busy time for Murphy, who next has FX anthology Feud — focusing on the personal and professional battles between Joan Crawford and Bette Davis — due March 5. His third FX anthology, American Horror Story — largely credited for reigniting the anthology craze — likely will return in October and recently scored a hefty two-season renewal, taking the series through 2019.
Murphy is repped by CAA.