UPDATED: Random House has issued a statement in defense of author Maureen Orth, whose book Vulgar Favors provided the basis for the new mini-series The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story. The Versace family has released two statements in the last week criticizing the accuracy of the FX show and Orth’s reporting.
First published almost 19 years ago, Vulgar Favors is a carefully reported and extensively-sourced work of investigative journalism by an award-winning journalist with impeccable credentials. The book has stood the test of time and is widely regarded as the definitive account of Andrew Cunanan’s chilling crime spree. Random House stands by the book and its author, Maureen Orth.
Orth also commented during an episode of Vanity Fair’s Still Watching podcast:
EARLIER: The battle of words over FX’s The Assassination of Gianni Versace continues. The Versace family released the following new statement Wednesday morning, likely in response to executive producer Ryan Murphy’s statements Tuesday defending the authenticity of the newest installment of American Crime Story.
The “medical condition” the family is referring to is Orth’s claim in her book Vulgar Favors, upon which the mini-series is based, that Versace was HIV positive at the time of his death. The Assassination of Gianni Versace shows the designer seeking medical treatment in the second episode of the series.
The Versace family released its first statement Monday, which read, “The Versace family has neither authorized nor had any involvement whatsoever in the forthcoming TV series about the death of Mr. Gianni Versace. 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.”
On Tuesday, Murphy told EW, “The Versace family has said it’s a work of fiction — it is not a work of fiction. (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.”
The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story premieres Jan. 17 at 10 p.m. on FX.