FX has sorta-blinked. Facing criticism about its decision to launch American Crime Story‘s latest season — which revolves around the Monica Lewinsky scandal and President Bill Clinton’s subsequent impeachment — ahead of the 2020 election, the cabler is now backing off the incendiary scheduling move.
In speaking to reporters Thursday at the Television Critics Assoc. winter press tour, FX chairman John Landgraf maintained that the decision to put a pin in Season 3’s targeted launch date was driven more by production concerns. “[Exec producer] Ryan [Murphy] is probably objectively the busiest man in show business… and he’s not available to start production until March 21 of this year,” he explained. “So that means we won’t be physically done actually shooting the episodes until October, because of the long production. So I think we initially announced that we’d air in September, and I don’t think that’s reasonable, frankly, given that it won’t finish production until October. As for when we’ll schedule it… we don’t know. We sort of have to get into production, sort of see how the production goes, how long the production is going to be. So I guess I would say it’s TBD at this point, but I don’t think we’ll make it by September.”
Last August, FX triggered a bit of a firestorm when it announced that Impeachment: American Crime Story would air in September 2020. Critics contended that the show could impact the 2020 election between President Trump and the eventual Democratic nominee. “There is nothing that Trump would like more than to turn the homestretch of 2020 into a revisitation of the Clintons,” journalist/author Mark Harris lamented on social media at the time. “Don’t do this, FX. It’s a disservice to our fragile political system and to the talented people involved in this show.”
Although Landgraf stood by the scheduling decision at the time, Murphy later maintained that the date was “not set in stone,” adding that although he “was a little shocked at the idea that a television miniseries could change the future of our country… I have to say I really do understand peoples’ sensitivities and I feel like that was just a placeholder to us and we’ve not committed yet on when we’re going to release it.”
Based on Jeffrey Toobin’s bestselling book A Vast Conspiracy: The Real Story of the Sex Scandal That Nearly Brought Down a President, Impeachment stars Booksmart breakout Beanie Feldstein as Monica Lewinsky, Sarah Paulson as Lewinsky’s infamous “confidante” Linda Tripp, Masters of Sex‘s Annaleigh Ashford as Paula Jones and Clive Owen as President Bill Clinton.