There’s only one more week to wait before we get the premiere of one of the most anticipated series of this TV season… The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story. While we have been eagerly been devouring every teaser and glimpse at the lavish production, for some it’s a painful reminder of what they experienced and lost twenty years ago.
As we reported earlier in the week, the Versace family issued a statement on Monday distancing themselves from the production and labeling it “a work of fiction”. Speaking at the series’ premiere event in LA that evening, ACS executive producer Ryan Murphy refuted the claim, telling Entertainment Weekly, “The Versace family has said it’s a work of fiction — it is not a work of fiction.”
Murphy added, “[The People vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story] was based on a non-fiction book by Jeffrey Toobin. Versace is based on a non-fiction book by Maureen Orth that has been discussed and dissected and vetted for close to 20 years. She worked for Vanity Fair. Maureen Orth is an impeccable reporter and we stand by her reporting. Our show is based on her reporting so, in that way, it is not a work of fiction, it’s a work of non-fiction obviously with docudrama elements. We’re not making a documentary.”
As more information has been released about the series with the delivery of screeners and viewings of the premiere episode at events across the US, it has begun apparent that while named for Versace (played by Edgar Ramirez) and opens with his murder, the focus on the series is actually his killer Andrew Cunanan (played by Darren Criss) and the societal factors in the mid-late 1990s that enabled his summer killing spree to occur.
As executive producer Brad Simpson tells Variety, “we’re not just telling the story of Versace. We’re telling the story of all the lives that were affected by the murders of Andrew Cunanan. [The Versace family are] entitled to feel how they want to feel, but we stand by the veracity of the show.” He adds, “This isn’t authorized, and we don’t make any pretense at it being authorized.”
The series may centre around the relationships Cunanan has with his victims, but it will also showcase Versace’s relationship with his sister Donatella (Penelope Cruz). When responding to questions about the Versace family statement, Murphy shared that “on Sunday, Donatella Versace very graciously sent Penelope Cruz a lovely and huge flower arrangement saying ‘good luck’ because Penelope was at the Golden Globes representing our show. Then, there’s the fact that after I offered the role to Penelope, she said, ‘Okay I’m interested but I’m friends with Donatella and I’m not going to do it unless Donatella is cool with it.’ So she called Donatella.”
Speaking to Variety, Murphy stressed, “I don’t know if she is going to watch the show, but if she did I think that she would see that we treat her and her family with respect and kindness. She really is a feminist role model in my book, because she had to step into an impossible situation, which she did with grace and understanding. I think that she really loved Penelope and knows that Penelope would never do anything to represent her in a negative light. Hopefully she’ll read what I’m saying to you.”
The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story premieres Wednesday January 17 on FX.
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