More than two decades after a sex scandal involving a sitting U.S. President and a White House intern rocked the nation, Impeachment: American Crime Story reexamines the events through the stories of the women involved. Emmy talks to the writer, producers and cast of the recent FX limited series about approaching those events from a new point of view. The award-winning, official publication of the Television Academy hits newsstands today.
Brad Simpson, the executive producer of the true-crime anthology, describes the American Crime Story "litmus test" and how a piece of history is selected. "It has to be a crime that indicts the audience, a national crime that everybody thinks they know about but actually don't," says Simpson. He shares with emmy that what's interesting about this story is that it had always been told from a man's point of view.
At the center of the scandal was former White House intern Monica Lewinsky, who was persuaded by executive producer-director Ryan Murphy to join the series as a producer. "A rule to date is to never meet any of the real people [involved in the crime]," says Impeachment writer and executive producer Sarah Burgess. But Burgess made an exception with Lewinsky. "I wanted her input. Morally, it would be weird to tell her story and not [have it]." Lewinsky took the role seriously, reviewing scripts and sharing details from her experience. "She was very willing to go places," Burgess says. "She was punished by the culture for being a complicated, full human being. People picked apart her life and her past."
In the emmy cover story "Balance of Power," Simpson explains, "It's hard to find anybody in America who wasn't guilty of not just taking sides but treating it like a big soap opera. Monica, as we all know by now, was treated horribly. All the women were treated horribly. We always thought the way into this [project] was through the women."
When Murphy received the first script from Burgess, he immediately texted Sarah Paulson (who played prosecutor Marcia Clark in Murphy's first American Crime Story installment, The People v. O.J. Simpson) about playing Linda Tripp. When Paulson readily accepted, Murphy's casting spree continued with a call to Beanie Feldstein to fill the role of Lewinsky. Feldstein describes it as "the easiest, 'Yes, and thank you,' of my entire life." Murphy continued to cast many other talented actresses, including Edie Falco as Hillary Clinton, Annaleigh Ashford as Paula Jones, Cobie Smulders as Ann Coulter, Judith Light as Susan Carpenter-McMillan and Margo Martindale as Lucianne Goldberg. All adeptly told the story through the lens of relatable women.
Simpson believes that timing of the Impeachment release likely affected viewers' reactions to the series. "I'm glad we didn't make it in 2016," he says. "I'm glad the country experienced #MeToo and a reckoning."
Additional feature highlights from the new issue include:
- In "In the Mix," emmy talks to Hwang Dong-Hyuk, writer and director of Netflix's groundbreaking global phenomenon Squid Game, about the highly unlikely success story of a show that was shopped and passed over for a decade.
- When producer Gloria Calderón Kellett couldn't see her spirited, Latinx family represented on television, she created them herself. In "Setting Sparks" Calderón discusses the catalyst for her inclusive holiday-themed Amazon series With Love.
- The women of Sex and the City are back, and emmy takes readers behind the scenes in "Beyond the Brownstone." Creator Michael Patrick King discusses the highly anticipated 10-episode series And Just Like That, premiering Dec. 9 on HBO Max.
Emmy, the official publication of the Television Academy, goes behind the scenes of the industry for a unique insider's view. It showcases the scope of television and profiles the people who make TV happen, from the stars of top shows to the pros behind the cameras, covering programming trends and advances in technology. Honored consistently for excellence, emmy is a six-time Maggie Award winner as Best Trade Publication in Communications or the Arts and has collected 52 Maggies from the Western Publishing Association. Emmy is published 12 times per year and is available on selected newsstands and at TelevisionAcademy.com for single print and digital copies as well as subscriptions.
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