Executive producer Ryan Murphy tells EW that the upcoming The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story is “not a work of fiction” despite what the Versace family asserted in a statement on Monday.
“The Versace family has said it’s a work of fiction — it is not a work of fiction,” Murphy tells EW. “[The People vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story] was based on a non-fiction book by Jeffrey Toobin. Versace is based on a non-fiction book by Maureen Orth that has been discussed and dissected and vetted for close to 20 years. She worked for Vanity Fair. Maureen Orth is an impeccable reporter and we stand by her reporting. Our show is based on her reporting so, in that way, it is not a work of fiction, it’s a work of non-fiction obviously with docudrama elements. We’re not making a documentary.”
On Monday, the Versace family released a statement criticizing the highly anticipated new mini-series, The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story, which premieres Jan. 17 on FX. The series begins with the murder of Gianni (Edgar Ramirez) at the hands of Andrew Cunanan (Darren Criss) but also showcases the designer’s relationship with sister Donatella (Penelope Cruz), who currently runs the international brand.
“The Versace family has neither authorized nor had any involvement whatsoever in the forthcoming TV series about the death of Mr. Gianni Versace,” the fashion house said. “Since Versace did not authorize the book on which it is partly based nor has it taken part in the writing of the screenplay, this TV series should only be considered as a work of fiction.”
But as Murphy says, “On Sunday, Donatella Versace very graciously sent Penelope Cruz a lovely and huge flower arrangement saying ‘good luck’ because Penelope was at the Golden Globes representing our show. Then, there’s the fact that after I offered the role to Penelope, she said, ‘Okay I’m interested but I’m friends with Donatella and I’m not going to do it unless Donatella is cool with it.’ So she called Donatella.”
He adds, “I made it clear to Penelope and to Donatella that in no way would I ever share scripts or give information because we didn’t do that. We didn’t do that with People vs. O.J. and we didn’t do that with Feud. I’m never going to do that. Penelope would never have done anything that was showing Donatella or that family in a bad light. What the show does, like it did for Marcia Clark on O.J., it shows Donatella in a true feminist light as a feminist hero. She out of the blue was put in one of the worst situations a person can endure and she did endure. Not only did she keep her family together but she kept this billion dollar business together and still has.”
The Assassination of Gianni Versace debuts Jan. 17 on FX.