FX Networks and FX Productions head John Landgraf used his time during the company's Television Critics Association winter press event to update fans on the status of Ryan Murphy's Impeachment: American Crime Story. Except this update had much less to do with the series itself than it does the politics surrounding the season and its timing.
Landgraf confirmed during the event that the third season of the true crime anthology series will not air in September 2020, as previously intended? The non-cynical reason? Murphy's busy schedule means production on the Bill Clinton impeachment-themed season won't finish until October – leaving Landgraf to state the obvious: "I don't think we'll make it by September".
Impeachment: American Crime Story is the next installment in the true-crime anthology series – set to focus on what led to the impeachment of former President Bill Clinton (Clive Owen), though Paula Jones (Annaleigh Ashford), Monica Lewinsky (Beanie Feldstein), and Linda Tripp (Sarah Paulson) will be the main focus. Lewinsky serves as a producer, with the focus of the series being less on President Clinton and more on the women involved in the case (the role of Hillary Clinton has yet to be cast).
Sarah Burgess is penning the season, which is also based on the book A Vast Conspiracy: The Real Story of the Sex Scandal That Nearly Brought Down a President by CNN Chief Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin.
Originally, production on Impeachment: American Crime Story was to begin in late March 2020, with a September 2020 premiere – approximately six weeks before the 2020 presidential election. You see the problem with the original release date, right? A righteous amount of people began questioning the timing and if it didn't work in Donald Trump's favor come 2020 election time.
FX Networks and FX Productions John Landgraf defended the series when the initial announcement was made – saying he believed "very, very strongly" in the season and did not believe that the timing would influence the 2020 election ("I think that's a little hysterical, from my standpoint.") – even in the face of those who argued that revisiting the Clintons' scandalous past so close to November would only serve the currant occupant of The White House: "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."
For the executive, it was more a matter of "art" and the importance of conversation:
"Let me just say something about the current environment. 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 defended the season's topic by reaffirming the true-crime anthology's mission and purpose – and his faith in what viewers will see when Impeachment airs:
"We look at moments in time that involve crimes that can be looked at with much more nuance and more complexity in the fullness of time, and I feel completely unabashed about my pride for American Crime Story and my belief that this is a completely valid cycle of American Crime Story."