After it seemed as though it wasn’t going to happen, FX announced the third season of its “American Crime Story” franchise will indeed tackle Bill Clinton’s White House scandal and impeachment.
The news came Tuesday during the network’s presentation at the Television Critics Assn. press tour in Beverly Hills.
Titled “Impeachment,” the new season begins production early next year and will premiere Sept. 27, 2020. Monica Lewinsky, the former White House intern who got swept up in a media firestorm because of her affair with the former president, will serve as a producer. Executive producer Ryan Murphy previously said he hadn’t wanted to move forward with the season without her involvement.
Jemima Khan and Henrietta Conrad, producers of the A&E docuseries “The Clinton Affair,” will also produce “Impeachment.” “The Clinton Affair” featured in-depth interviews with the typically press-shy Lewinsky about her relationship with Clinton and its aftermath. “Impeachment” joins “The Clinton Affair,” Amazon Prime’s docuseries “Lorena,” the figure-skating films “The Price of Gold” and “I, Tonya,” and the inaugural season of “American Crime Story,” “The People vs. O.J Simpson,” among a spate of recent cultural artifacts to reconsider the maligned women of the 1990s, from Lorena Bobbitt and Tonya Harding to Marcia Clark.
The cast will include Sarah Paulson as Linda Tripp, Beanie Feldstein as Monica Lewinsky, and Annaleigh Ashford as Paula Jones. Sarah Burgess will write the series, based on Jeffrey Toobin’s 1999 bestseller, “A Vast Conspiracy: The Real Story of the Sex Scandal That Nearly Brought Down a President.” (Another Toobin book, “The Run of His Life: The People v. O. J. Simpson,” served as the foundation for “The People vs. O.J. Simpson.”)
“This franchise re-examines some of the most complicated, polarizing stories in recent history in a way that is relevant, nuanced and entertaining,” said FX Networks Chairman John Landgraf in a statement. “‘Impeachment: American Crime Story’ will likewise explore 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.”
As Landgraf addressed reporters in person during his executive session at TCA, he was made aware of criticism on social media about the timing of the third season’s premiere, which comes just two months before the 2020 election — the concern being that the series’ focus on the scandal that defined the Clinton era will serve Trump’s interest.
I'm sure this new American Crime Story will be interesting and good but am also sure that I won't be able to handle it coming out right around the 2020 election when Trump desperately wants to rehash Trump vs. Clinton.— April Wolfe (@AWolfeful) August 6, 2019
“I believe very strongly in what were making,” Landgraf said. “I don’t think it’s going to determine who is going to become the next president of the United States. I think that’s a little hysterical. From my standpoint, I am insistent that I’m going to support artists who want to make great art, and they want to put it in a time and place where people are going to watch it… ”
Landgraf also spoke on the decision to pursue the story after it seemed like it wouldn’t happen.
“The reason it’s back is because producers — Brad Simpson, Nina Jacobson and Ryan Murphy — really stayed focused on their belief that there was something worth making there. And it’s really because of Sarah Burgess... [she] comes with a feminist point of view. I think if you went back and you saw the way that story was covered at the time, you will see that the way we perceive many aspects of it, particularly the women, the female characters that played a role in that story, has really been transformed by the ensuing history... What brought it back around was Sarah Burgess’ reinterpretation of the material through the prism of these women.”
Times staff writer Meredith Blake contributed to this report.