Summary List Placement
“Impeachment: American Crime Story” will tell the story of former president Bill Clinton’s 1998 impeachment.
Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky reportedly began when the then-recent college graduate started working at the White House as an unpaid intern in November 1995. The 18-month relationship came to an end in May 1997, according to The Guardian.
Although Clinton initially lied under oath and denied being romantically involved with Lewinsky in January 1998, he ultimately acknowledged the relationship in August.
In October of that same year, the House of Representatives brought four articles of impeachment against Clinton, charging the politician with having lied to a grand jury, committed perjury by denying his relationship with Lewinsky, obstructed justice, and abused his power as president. Clinton was ultimately acquitted in the Senate in February 1999. (You can check out a full timeline of the Clinton impeachment here.)
“Impeachment,” executive produced by “Glee” cocreators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, almost didn’t happen.
This is the third installment in the “American Crime Story” series created by Murphy and Falchuk. The show’s first season focused on O.J. Simpson’s trial and the second season was about Gianni Versace’s assassination.
The “Impeachment” season was first announced years ago.
The Hollywood Reporter broke the news in January 2017 that Murphy had optioned journalist Jeffrey Toobin’s 1999 book, “A Vast Conspiracy: The Real Sex Scandal that Nearly Brought Down a President,” to be the source material for a future season of his FX franchise. At that time, the Clinton scandal was expected to be the fourth or a later season of the series (a since-scrapped season about Hurricane Katrina was originally set to be the third season).
However, in April 2018, Murphy told the Hollywood Reporter that he was rethinking the idea of doing an “Impeachment” season. He said he was hesitant to move forward without the participation of Monica Lewinsky, who he’d run into at a party.
“I told her, ‘Nobody should tell your story but you, and it’s kind of gross if they do,'” Murphy recalled saying to Lewinsky, according to THR. “‘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.'”
Eventually, Murphy and Lewinsky came to an agreement, and “Impeachment” as the third season was officially announced by FX at the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour in August 2019, with Lewinsky signed on as a producer.
Lewinsky was initially scared about working on “Impeachment” but said doing so allowed her to “reintroduce my voice to the conversation.”
After news broke in 1998 about her affair with Clinton, Lewinsky faced intense scrutiny, both online and in the press, that lasted over two decades. In 2019, she launched a PSA against online bullying called “The Epidemic.”
Lewinsky told Vanity Fair in an email statement at the time the “Impeachment” season was announced in August 2019 that she was at first “hesitant, and truthfully more than a little scared” about signing on as a producer.
However, she said she felt more confident about being a part of the project after having dinner with Murphy and seeing “how dedicated he is to giving a voice to the marginalized” in his work, adding that she was “privileged” to be a part of it.
“People have been co-opting and telling my part in this story for decades,” Lewinsky continued in her statement. “In fact, it wasn’t until the past few years that I’ve been able to fully reclaim my narrative; almost 20 years later.”
“Impeachment” will premiere on FX at 10 p.m. ET on September 7.
The season will consist of 10 hour-long episodes and air weekly, with new episodes hitting Hulu the next day.
“Ladybird” actress Beanie Feldstein is playing Lewinsky.
Feldstein was first spotted on the set of “Impeachment” in February.
In the set photos, the actress bore a striking resemblance to Lewinsky, with her hair styled similarly to that of the former White House intern.
At a virtual Television Critics Association panel held on August 20, Feldstein told reporters she shares “more of a friendship” with Lewinsky than she does a “working relationship,” adding that there’s a bond of “complete trust” between the two women.
Feldstein also said she told Lewinsky she sees herself as Lewinsky’s “bodyguard.”
She recalled telling Lewinsky: “I’m putting my body in front of you. I’m going to protect you. I have your back. I know your heart and that’s my job.”
Sarah Paulson is playing Lewinsky’s coworker and fellow White House employee Linda Tripp, who died in April 2020.
Paulson told Entertainment Weekly in November 2020 that she doesn’t have “any kind of judgment” about Tripp, who died earlier that year in April.
“I like to play the horrible, because there’s always an opportunity to learn a little bit more about what we think we know,” the “Ratched” actress told the publication.
In April 2021, set photos of Paulson in character as Tripp went viral on social media, with many Twitter users expressing bewilderment at how closely Paulson resembled Tripp with the hair and makeup.
Paulson told reporters at a virtual Television Critics Association panel held on August 20 that it took the hair and makeup teams “about three and a half hours” everyday to transform her into Tripp.
Clive Owen plays Bill Clinton and Edie Falco plays Hillary Clinton. But neither of the Clintons are major characters in the season.
Falco’s casting as former presidential nominee Hillary Clinton was first reported in March 2021.
FX chairman John Landgraf told The Hollywood Reporter in August 2019 that Bill and Hillary Clinton are “not significant” characters in “Impeachment” and that the story is “really told from the point of view of these women who were really far from the center of power.”
More recently, at a virtual Television Critics Association panel held on August 20, executive producer Brad Simpson said he doesn’t think Hillary Clinton will watch the show.
“No one, as far as we know, from the Clinton camp has seen this series,” he told reporters. “Of course, I’m curious what they would think. I don’t imagine she will watch, no matter how empathetic we are to her.”
Cobie Smulders will play conservative commentator Ann Coulter. She replaced Betty Gilpin, who was previously cast in the role.
Variety reported on August 5 that the “How I Met Your Mother” actress would replace Gilpin, who had to exit the project due to scheduling conflicts. Gilpin called not being able to take on the role of Coulter “another COVID disappointment” during an appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” in June.
Deadline reported on Tuesday that Mira Sorvino, Kevin Pollak, and Patrick Fischler would also have recurring roles on “Impeachment,” citing unnamed sources.
FX, Murphy, and representatives for the three actors declined to comment on the most recent casting news when reached by Deadline.
FX has released three teasers for “Impeachment” so far, each focusing on different events leading up to the Clinton impeachment.
In the first teaser, shared on August 4, Lewinsky is seen walking into the Oval Office with a gift for Clinton hidden inside a folder.
Lewinsky opens up to Tripp about her affair with Clinton in a second teaser released a week later, on August 11. In response, Tripp declares that the president will have to resign because he “chose to start an affair with an intern” and that Lewinsky should hold on to the infamous blue dress for future evidence.
The third and most recent teaser, shared on August 15, shows a secretive romantic phone call between Lewinsky and Clinton.
FX released the first official trailer for “Impeachment: American Crime Story” on August 12 and a second official trailer on Friday.
The two-minute preview focused on some of the fallout from Clinton and Lewinsky’s affair becoming public, including the press hounding the then- 24-year-old Lewinsky and an angry Hillary Clinton (played by Edie Falco) throwing a glass vase at Clinton.
The first full trailer also featured a scene recreating a famous picture of Clinton and Lewinsky hugging at a 1996 White House party and Tripp leaking the story of the former couple’s affair to the press.
A second official trailer was released on Friday.
“Impeachment: American Crime Story” premieres September 7 at 10 p.m. ET on FX.