With The People V O.J Simpson: American Crime Story having swept the Emmys and collected two Golden Globe awards, it’s not surprising in the least to find that series co-producer Ryan Murphy is charging ahead with developing further plans for the fledgling American Crime Story anthology series. Season 2 is already planned to look at Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, and season 3 is said to focus on the murder of Gianni Versace – but Murphy has now optioned a book about the sex scandals that enveloped President Bill Clinton in 1998.
Titled A Vast Conspiracy: The Real Sex Scandal That Nearly Brought Down A President, the novel was published in 2000. The author is Jeffrey Toobin, who previously wrote The Run Of His Life: The People V O.J Simpson, upon which the first season of American Crime Story is partly based. Indeed, Toobin worked closely with the production, ultimately sharing credit for writing episodes.
A Vast Conspiracy details the scandal that came to the attention of the public in 1998, and revealed that President Clinton had engaged in an extra-marital affair with Monica Lewinsky – then a White House intern – between 1995 and 1997. Lewinsky had confided in colleague Linda Tripp, who covertly recorded the conversations and handed those recordings to Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr after Lewinsky swore an affidavit denying any relationship with the President.
The affidavit had been sworn in the case of Paula Jones and her allegations of sexual harassment perpetrated by President Clinton. The Clinton sex scandal led to the impeachment of the President in 1998, for perjury and obstruction of justice. President Clinton was ultimately acquitted of the charges brought against him, in what became an infamous and legendary political disaster.
The prospect of Ryan Murphy’s American Crime Story anthology series tackling the Clinton scandal of 1998 is an intriguing one – particularly given that The People V O.J Simpson demonstrated the way in which this show approaches each character involved. Each individual – their motivations and personal perspectives – are explored in depth, creating a multi-dimensional account of these world-famous events. The series has also demonstrated that those with intimidating talent are attracted to the project, begging the question: who will play Clinton and Lewinsky?
The Hurricane Katrina-centred second season of American Crime Story is expected to air in 2018, with the Versace-focused third season following six months later. We will, therefore, have to wait until at least 2019 to see what this anthology show has to say about the case that became known in the media as ‘Zippergate’.