American Crime Story Katrina Sarah Paulson Cast Annette Bening

Sarah Paulson In, Annette Bening Out in Crime Story Katrina Overhaul

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.

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  1. T.W.S.S. says:

    Starting to think that Ryan Murphy is taking on too much at once.

  2. Yolanda says:

    I knew this one was going to be the least watched but now I’m sure no one absolutely no one is going to watch this one. When I think ACS I want to watch stories about famous people committing crimes not some random folks.

    • Adam says:

      It doesn’t need to be famous people committing crimes, but the crimes themselves should be pretty famous even if committed by random folks.

      I do think that this concept sounds intriguing (more specific than the original concept for the season), but part of what made the OJ season work so well was getting a more intimate take on something the public already knew so well and this season would lack that.

    • Dude says:

      Trust me, the Five Days At Memorial story is more interesting than anything OJ or Versace ever did. What those doctors and patients had to endure during the hurricane was messed up.

  3. Perhaps the problem comes down to the fact that the show is called American Crime Story and they’re doing a story about a hurricane. Are they going to put the hurricane on trial?

    • LolaHaze says:

      Based on the description it sounds like they will be focusing on decisions made by personnel at the hospital to euthanize patients and hopefully be looking at the larger crime of how these personnel came to be put in that horrible position to begin with.

    • EDWARD NOFE says:

      You need to expand the way you think. The story is about the hurricane per say but the aftermath and what crimes were and were not committed.

  4. John says:

    Does this creative overhaul also mean they wouldn’t be shooting in New Orleans anymore?

  5. Lisa says:

    Huh??? What the hell is even going on with this? I say scrap it and choose something else. Theres a million and one crimes in american history to choose from

    • Ren says:

      Ohh trust me..there was a lot of corruption surrounding this hurricane. Plus..people still seem either ignorant or ambivalent about the devastation. This could be an enlightening moment for people.

  6. Cate says:

    Is the description of the Doctor euthanising patients a plot spoiler for the show? I can imagine that being a dramatic beat that the characters will debate and be forced into. Or am I just very ignorant not knowing that something like that actually happened?

  7. Dude says:

    I’m so glad that this is the direction the season is going in. It’s the Katrina story I was hoping they would tell. Radiolab did a podcast about it that was fascinating and absolutely heartbreaking.

  8. NP20 says:

    As much as I would have loved to see Bening and Quaid, that’s a great book so I have hoped they’re moving in a good direction on this