The Clinton-Lewinsky Scandal Is Next Up For American Crime Story

Credit: William J Clinton Presidential Library

For the past few years the story has been floated as one of the upcoming seasons of FX’s American Crime Story. Yesterday (August 6) it was confirmed that the series’ third season would be taking a deep dive into 1990s American politics and tackling the sex and political scandal surrounding former President Bill Clinton.

Sarah Burgess will adapt Jeffrey Toobin’s bestselling book, A Vast Conspiracy: The Real Story of the Sex Scandal That Nearly Brought Down a President for the series. Impeachment: American Crime Story will tell the story of Clinton’s affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky and the subsequent impeachment proceedings from the perspective of three women intimately involved in the scandal. According to a statement from FX, the action will unfold through the perspectives of the three female leads: “Impeachment: American Crime Story unravels the national scandal that swept up Paula Jones, Monica Lewinsky, and Linda Tripp as principal characters in the country’s first impeachment proceedings in over a century.”

Not only that but we also have been told who our three leads will be: Beanie Feldstein, Sarah Paulson and Annaleigh Ashford. Booksmart’s Feldstein will play former White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Ryan Murphy darling and Emmy-winner Paulson returns to ACS and will tackle the role of Lewinsky’s confidante Linda Tripp. While Legally Blonde’s Ashford is set to play Clinton accuser Paula Jones.

As well as a kick-ass female-led cast, the faces behind the project are just as impressive. Along with the usual ACS/AHS executive producers Murphy, Nina Jacobson, Brad Simpson, Brad Falchuk, Larry Karaszewski, Scott Alexander, Alexis Martin Woodall and Sarah Paulson), Lewinsky herself has been brought on as a producer. An addition that is sure to bring even more interest to the series.

Speaking at the season announcement, FX Networks chairman John Landgraf said, “FX’s American Crime Story franchise has become a cultural touchstone, providing greater context for stories that deserve greater understanding like the O.J. Simpson trial and saga, and Andrew Cunanan’s tragic crime spree which concluded with the assassination of Gianni Versace. This franchise re-examines some of the most complicated, polarizing stories in recent history in a way that is relevant, nuanced and entertaining. 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.”

And it seems that just like the series’ subject matter, the third installment of ACS has already caused controversy… over when it is set to be released.

The series will premiere on Sunday September 27 next year – only a couple of months before Americans go to the polls in the next presidential election – and some have questioned the timing of the release and it’s possible impact on the election. However, Landgraf fervently defended the release:

“Let me say something about the current environment… When somebody writes, without even knowing what the script is … so this person knows what the show is, knows what the audience response is going to be, knows how it’s going to impact the election. 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 to the media environment. I believe very strongly in it. I’ve read [the ACS script]. I think it’s great. I don’t believe it’s going to determine who’s the next President of the United States. I think that’s a little hysterical from my standpoint. I’m insistent I’m going to support artists who are going to make great art and want to put it [on] at a time when people are going to watch it. I will stand up here as long as I’m here and I will stand for artists and stand for art.”

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Clare Sidoti

Clare Sidoti is 4 Your Excitement's Editor-at-Large. Clare has a BA (Theatre and Film Studies) from the University of New South Wales, Australia and an MA Theory and Practice of Human Rights from the University of Essex, UK. She currently works for an NGO that runs human rights training in the Asia Pacific region. You can find her on twitter with her eclectic musings on the arts, entertainment and human rights. Some of her favourite topics to cover include Darren Criss, Chris Colfer, Glee and Star Wars.
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