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The Clinton impeachment scandal just got queer.
Not only is super-producer Ryan Murphy executive producing the new season of American Crime Story, which will be called Impeachment: American Crime Story, but out actresses Sarah Paulson and Beanie Feldstein are starring, it was announced at the FX Television Critics Association event in Los Angeles on Tuesday.
Booksmart and Lady Bird star Feldstein will play Monica Lewinsky in the series that Lewinsky is co-producing about her relationship with President Bill Clinton when she was a White House intern and the impeachment proceedings that followed once it became public. Paulson, an alumna of many Murphy projects, will play Linda Tripp, an associate of Lewinsky's who began recording their conversations once the former intern had revealed that she'd had a physical relationship with Clinton.
Tony winner and costar of Showtime's Masters of Sex Annaleigh Ashford has also signed on for the 10-episode miniseries as Paula Jones, a former Arkansas state employee whose sexual harassment suit against Clinton helped fuel Ken Starr's investigation into his physical relationship with Lewinsky.
Writer Sarah Burgess will pen the script based on Jeffrey Toobin's book A Vast Conspiracy: The Real Story of the Sex Scandal That Nearly Brought Down a President, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Murphy optioned the book in 2017 but decided against producing unless Lewinsky got on board.
"I told her, 'Nobody should tell your story but you, and it's kind of gross if they do,'" Murphy said last year. "'If you want to produce it with me, I would love that; but you should be the producer and you should make all the goddamn money.'"
The decision to begin airing the series ahead of the 2020 presidential election has been roundly criticized as offering fodder for Donald Trump to drag the Clintons back into politics. In a tweet, New York Magazine's Mark Harris tweeted that the timing of the series was "an abysmal idea."
"There is nothing that Trump would like more than to turn the homestretch of 2020 into a revisitation of the Clintons," Harris wrote.
\u201cThere is nothing that Trump would like more than to turn the homestretch of 2020 into a revisitation of the Clintons. Don't do this, @FXNetworks. It's a disservice to our fragile political system and to the talented people involved in this show.\u201d— Mark Harris (@Mark Harris) 1565133597
But FX's CEO John Landgraf pushed back.
"Let me just say something about the current environment," Landgraf said. "So this person knows what the show is, knows how the audience is going to respond to it, knows how it's going to impact history, right? This certainty that says, 'We can't have conversations, we can't make art, we can't have nuance, I won't even wait to pronounce judgment on it,' is toxic in the media environment."
When a reporter asked Landgraf if the series could influence people's decisions at the polls, Landgraf reaffirmed his belief in the series and called the handwringing over whether it could influence voters "a little hysterical, from my standpoint."