American Crime Story‘s “creative pivot” apparently comes with a revolving cast door: Sarah Paulson will star in a revamped version of the upcoming Katrina season, our sister site Deadline reports, while several big-name actors previously attached to the anthology drama — including Annette Bening — are left without roles.
On Wednesday, FX CEO John Landgraf told reporters at the Television Critics Association summer press tour that the Ryan Murphy franchise had undergone the aforementioned “creative pivot,” despite the season having been “far along in one creative direction,” because “the bar is really high for this franchise, and we just weren’t confident we were going to get over it.” Katrina — which is set in New Orleans, La., around the time of the titular 2005 hurricane and the devastating floods that followed it — was originally planned as Crime Story‘s second season, but was pushed back to third position (following the upcoming The Assassination of Gianni Versace season), with Landgraf previously citing weather concerns and trouble nailing down the material as the cause.
Now, the series will use Sheri Fink’s book Five Days at Memorial, which chronicles the effect of the storm on New Orleans’ Memorial Medical Center, as source material. Paulson will play Dr. Anna Pou, a physician who led the facility’s medical staff to euthanize critically ill patients after the hospital had been without power for several days.
Producer Scott Rudin (The Newsroom, the Twilight films) bought the rights to the book in 2013; he will join Murphy, Brad Simpson and Nina Jacobson as an executive producer on Crime Story.
The change in dramatic direction means that there are currently no parts for Bening, Dennis Quaid and Matthew Broderick, who’d signed on to play Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco, President George W. Bush and Federal Emergency Management Agency director Michael D. Brown, respectively — though Deadline reports that producers are looking for new parts for the trio.
Paulson, a Murphy staple who will be part of American Horror Story‘s upcoming Cult season, won a Golden Globe and an Emmy for her portrayal of lawyer Marcia Clark in American Crime Story‘s first season, The People v. O.J. Simpson.