'American Crime Story' Nets Big Viewership in Italy Despite Versace Criticisms

Courtesy of FX

Edgar Ramirez as Gianni Versace. 

FoxCrime ran a huge promotional effort in the country.

Although the Versace family has slammed American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace, the public feud has appeared only to have helped ratings in the designer's homeland. The new show from Ryan Murphy tells the story of the murder of the fashion icon and stars Edgar Ramirez, Ricky Martin, Darren Criss and Penelope Cruz.

In Italy, the series aired on FoxCrime, giving the network its best show debut in four years. More than 700,000 viewers tuned in to the premiere of Versace, with 1.3 million unique viewers watching the show in total during its first week on air. By comparison, the seventh-season premiere of Game of Thrones in Italy netted only 572,000 spectators. 

FoxCrime ran a huge promotional effort in the country, with a digital PR strategy focusing on memories of the Italian designer from celebrities who knew him. 

The fashion house, including Versace Group vp Donatella Versace, has been outspoken in its disdain for the show, which was widely reported in both American and Italian press. 

"The Versace family has neither authorized nor had any involvement whatsoever in the forthcoming TV series about the death of Mr. Gianni Versace," the fashion company said in a statement in early January. “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.” 

Versace network FX responded to the accusation by stating that the series was based on Maureen Orth's book on the murder, Vulgar Favors. “We stand by the meticulous reporting of Ms. Orth,” FX said in a statement. 

Versace also decried Orth's book when it came out, disputing, among other things, the claim that Gianni Versace was H.I.V. positive when he died. 

Italian media has since speculated that the fashion house may also be less than thrilled that equal weight is given in the series to the stories of Gianni Versace and his killer, Andrew Cunanan, which it sees as suggesting that the men were two sides of the same coin.