Monica Lewinsky Explains Why She Agreed to Produce 'Impeachment: American Crime Story'
By Stacy Lambe
On Tuesday, FX announced that the third season of Ryan Murphy’s anthology series, American Crime Story, will turn its attention to the 1998 impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton. Premiering in 2020, the new season will go inside the national scandal that made Linda Tripp, Monica Lewinsky and Paula Jones key figures in the country’s first impeachment proceedings in over a century.
Based on Jeffrey Toobin’s bestselling book A Vast Conspiracy: The Real Story of the Sex Scandal That Nearly Brought Down a President, the new season will be written and executive produced by Sarah Burgess.
Notably, Lewinsky herself will serve as producer on Impeachment: American Crime Story, which will see Beanie Feldstein portray her when she was a 22-year-old White House intern. Annaleigh Ashford and Sarah Paulson round out the lead cast Jones and Tripp, respectively.
While the intention to tackle the impeachment trial was announced in 2017, following the success of The People vs O.J. Simpson, the project was reportedly shelved until Murphy could get Lewinsky’s OK to move forward.
In an email to Vanity Fair, Lewinsky explained her reasons for signing on to produce the new season of American Crime Story. “I was hesitant, and truthfully more than a little scared to sign on. But after a lengthy dinner meeting with Ryan, I came to understand even more clearly how dedicated he is to giving a voice to the marginalized in all of his brilliant work,” she wrote. “I’m privileged to work with him and the other talented people on the team, and I’m privileged to have this opportunity.”
She continued by writing, “People have been co-opting and telling my part in this story for decades. In fact, it wasn't until the past few years that I've been able to fully reclaim my narrative; almost 20 years later.” The opportunity to produce the series, she explained, “allows people like me who have been historically silenced to finally reintroduce my voice to the conversation.”
In the 20 years since the scandal broke, Lewinsky has only participated in the 2018 docuseries The Clinton Affair. The series also marks her first time producing scripted TV.
Slated for a Sept. 27, 2020 debut, Impeachment: American Crime Story arrives less than two months before the upcoming presidential election. “People are going to be very interested in this right around the presidential election," John Landgraf, chairman of FX Networks and FX Productions, told reporters during the Television Critics Association summer press tour, when asked about the conspicuous timing.
“The way we look at American Crime Story is as Revisionist History," Landgraf continued, referring to Malcolm Gladwell's political podcast. "We look at moments in time that involve crimes that can be looked at in a much more nuanced and a much more complex in the fullness of time, through great writing and character looking at with time.”
What sets Impeachment apart from other takes on the late-’90s scandal, Landgraf said, is that “it comes from a younger female point of view, a feminist point of view.”
“If you went back and you saw the way that that story was covered at the time, you will see that the way we perceive many aspects of it but particularly the women, the female characters that played a role in that story, has really been transformed by the ensuing history -- by the period of time, by the #MeToo movement,” he continued.