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FX Boss Defends 2020 Timing of Impeachment: American Crime Story

The new season will premiere in Sept. 2020

Megan Vick

FX has officially greenlit a new season of American Crime Story centered on the Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky affair. Impeachment: American Crime Story will begin production in February for a Sept. 27, 2020 premiere date.

The Emmy-winning anthology series show already boasts an all-star cast, including Booksmart's Beanie Feldestein as Monica Lewinsky. Sarah Paulson will also return to the ACS franchise as Linda Tripp, while Annaleigh Ashford will portray Paula Jones. The network has yet to announce who will play the former president.

Lewinsky will also serve as a producer on the series, which will be written by Sarah Burgess (Kings). Ryan Murphy will executive-produce with his team: Nina Jacobson, Brad Simpson, Brad Falchuk, Larry Karaszewski, Scott Alexander, Alexis Martin Woodall, and Paulson.

The season announcement comes a year and a half after Murphy first teased an ACS installment centering on the presidential affair, but the project was scrapped not long after, as was a planned Hurricane Katrina chapter.

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Lewinsky's affair with then-President Clinton was the scandal that rocked the Oval Office, and the world, in 1998. The fallout led to Lewinsky being publicly shamed, and Clinton became the second president in U.S. history to be impeached. The American Crime Story season will come in the wake of the #MeToo movement, which has re-contextualized the scandal and the slut-shaming Lewinsky endured in the years that followed.

When challenged by reporters at the Television Critics Association summer press tour about the timing of the series being so close to the 2020 election, FX Chairman John Landgraf said he wasn't concerned about the series being used as political fodder to weaken or strengthen certain candidates and/or parties.

"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. It's an excellent story and the writing is superb and the cast is superb. And there is a lot of nuance in the story that people don't know," Landgraf said. "People are going to be interested in this right around the presidential election, and it's going to be a great show."

John Landgraf, Television Critics Association 2019 summer press tour

John Landgraf, Television Critics Association 2019 summer press tour

Frederick M. Brown, Getty Images

In addition to standing by the new season, Landgraf also defended the timing and criticized a journalist on Twitter for passing judgment on the series before seeing it.

"Let me just say something about the current environment. When someone writes without even knowing what the script is ... this person knows what the show is, what the audience response is going to be, knows how it's going to impact history, right? 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.' That's a toxic media environment," said Landgraf. "I believe 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. I think that is a little hysterical."

Finally, Landgraf made sure to point out the focus of the series will not be the political scandal so much as the women at the center of it and the media's treatment of them.

"Sarah Burgess is a really, really, talented and gifted playwright," Landgraf said. "She comes from a younger, female, point of view, a feminist point of view. I think if you went back and saw the way that story was covered at the time, you would see that the way we perceive many aspects of it, but particularly the women, the female characters who played a role in that story, has really been transformed by the ensuing history, the period of time, the #MeToo movement and all of those things. I find Monica Lewinsky extremely impressive, the way that she has risen from the kind of early trauma that could have easily driven me to the knees and down to the ground. ... I think the fact that Monica, herself, wants to be involved in it when talking about a period in her life that was specifically traumatic, maybe tells you something about the quality of the material and the vibrancy of the revisionist history that that material can provide now."

Landgraf said the Clinton family was not consulted in the making of the series.

Impeachment: American Crime Story will premiere Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020 at 10/9c on FX.

Beanie Feldstein

Beanie Feldstein

Lars Niki, Getty Images for The Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences