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American Crime Story: Impeachment, which had previously been slated to premiere in September ahead of the election, has been delayed, FX chairman John Landgraf announced at the 2020 Television Critics Association winter press tour Thursday.
The limited series, which will follow the Clinton presidency scandal, will not be ready in time due to creator Ryan Murphy’s busy schedule, as he currently is on production on Netflix film Prom starring Nicole Kidman and Meryl Streep.
Landgrad said that Murphy would not be able to start production on Impeachment until March 21, and “that means we won’t be physically done shooting episodes until October, it’s a long production.” He said that the originally scheduled September premiere now is “not reasonable, given that it won’t finish production until October. As for when we’ll schedule it, we don’t know. We have to get into production and see how it goes and how long post-production will be. I guess I would say it’s TBD at this point.”
The network had faced backlash for the decision to air the show just weeks ahead of the 2020 election, but Landgraf said that the criticism did not play into the decision, as the deciding factor is Murphy’s availability.
Impeachment: American Crime Story will star frequent Murphy muse Sarah Paulson as Linda Tripp; Beanie Feldstein (Lady Bird, Booksmart, FX’s What We Do in the Shadows) as Lewinsky; and Annaleigh Ashford (season two of ACS, Masters of Sex) as Paula Jones. Sarah Burgess penned the script for the season, which is based on Jeffrey Toobin’s best-seller A Vast Conspiracy: The Real Story of the Sex Scandal That Nearly Brought Down a President. It is the same book, telling Lewinsky’s story, that Murphy, who is currently pulling double duty with FX and his Netflix deal, optioned in January 2017 and later had second thoughts about.
In August, Landgraf had defended the pre-election premiere date and said he was certain results wouldn’t be affected, after online critics, including New York magazine writer Mark Harris, had tweeted that airing the series during the final six weeks of the upcoming U.S. presidential election was “an abysmal idea” and that “there is nothing that Trump would like more than to turn the homestretch of 2020 into a revisitation of the Clintons.”
“Let me just say something about the current environment,” the executive said at the time. “So this person knows what the show is, knows how the audience is going to respond to it, knows how it’s going to impact history, right? This certainty that says, ‘We can’t have conversations, we can’t make art, we can’t have nuance, I won’t even wait to pronounce judgment on it,’ is toxic in the media environment.”
Landgraf went on to note that he “believes very, very strongly” in the project. “I’ve read it, I think it’s great. I don’t believe it’s going to determine who is the next president of the United States,” he said. Of the notion that it could influence 2020 election results, the exec added, “I think that’s a little hysterical, from my standpoint.”
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