Ryan Murphy Responds to Versace Critiques of FX Show

"I think that [Donatella Versace] really loves Penelope [Cruz] and knows that Penelope would never do anything to represent her in a negative light," the series creator said Monday night at the premiere of 'The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story.'
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From left: Darren Criss, Edgar Ramirez, Ryan Murphy, Penelope Cruz and Ricky Martin

Ryan Murphy knew when he began working on the second season of American Crime Story that it would be hard to match the acclaim that The People v. O.J. Simpson received.

"You can't top O.J.," Murphy told The Hollywood Reporter at the ArcLight Hollywood premiere of The Assassination of Gianni Versace on Monday night. "You have to figure out a different way to tell your story. I think the storytelling was more ambitious and more emotional."

Murphy, his cast — including Penelope Cruz as Donatella Versace, Edgar Ramirez as Gianni Versace and Darren Criss as his Gianni's killer, Andrew Cunanan — and producers gathered to debut the first episode of the series for two full theaters on the same day that the Versace family issued a statement calling the series "fiction."

"Since Versace did not authorize the book on which it is partly based nor has it taken part in the writing of the screenplay, this TV series should only be considered as a work of fiction," the family said in a statement issued to media outlets.

Murphy told THR that Donatella Versace's actions seemed to indicate she wasn't entirely displeased with the series. "Donatella Versace sent Penelope Cruz a very large arrangement of flowers yesterday when she was representing the show at the Golden Globes," he said. "I don't know if she is going to watch the show, but if she did, I think she would see that we treat her and her family with respect and kindness, and she really is sort of a feminist role model in my book because she had to step into an impossible situation, which she did with grace and understanding."

Said Cruz of the flowers, "That was very nice for me. I don't know if she has seen [the show], but it's a personal thing. It really made me smile; it made me happy to get these flowers."

Ultimately, Murphy said, he understands the instinct to be wary of the project. "Of course I feel if your family is ever portrayed in something, it's natural to sort of have a 'Well, let's wait and see what happens' [attitude]. But I think that [Donatella Versace] really loves Penelope and knows that Penelope would never do anything to represent her in a negative light."

Following the packed screening, guests boarded buses to travel the three blocks (it was raining) to the Hollywood Palladium, which was transformed into an opulent Miami Beach party with themed cocktails, a dinner buffet, decadent desserts and a performance art installation of sorts with models acting out various tableaus, which included gold-painted human statues, a glitter-covered merman and Versace swimsuit-clad beach scenes.

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