‘American Horror Story’ Gets Criminal Twist in ‘American Crime Story’

Ryan Murphy
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Ryan Murphy is expanding his empire with the launch of a second anthology series, this one focused on famous, real-life crimes. The new show, entitled American Crime Story, has found a home on FX, the same channel where Murphy’s other hit series, American Horror Story, currently airs.

According to Deadline, the network recently issued a 10-episode order for the new show, which will follow a similar format to that of its companion series. Like AHS, American Crime will switch up its focus every season, zeroing in on a different true crime story each time.

The first season will reportedly follow the much-publicized murder trial of O.J. Simpson. Based on the Jeffrey Toobin book The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson, American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson will examine the Simpson trial from the perspective of the lawyers on the case. Per the synopsis, the show will explore the “chaotic behind-the-scenes dealings and maneuvering on both sides of the court.” Perhaps even more significantly, it will detail how a combination of specific factors — including prosecution confidence and the LAPD’s history with the black community — ended up leaving the jury with reasonable doubt and resulting in one of the most divisive rulings in history.

The controversy surrounding the trial is exactly what drew Murphy to tackle the O.J. Simpson trial first. “This is an exciting project for me, as I’ve been looking for the right property which could serve as an extension of the American Horror Story brand I love so much,” Murphy explained, per Deadline. “The O.J. case was as tragic as it was fascinating — it seemed like everyone had a stake in the outcome. It was really the beginning of the modern tabloid age.”

American Crime Story was originally in development as a limited series at Fox before being moved to FX. Writers Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, who wrote The People vs. Larry Flint, will pen the first two episodes of the series. They’ll also executive produce alongside Murphy, AHS co-creator Brad Falchuk, Brad Simpson (World War Z), Nina Jacobson (Hunger Games), and Ryan Murphy Productions’ Dante Di Loreto. Murphy is also set to direct.

“Time and time again, Ryan Murphy has transformed the medium of television by redefining genres and formats as he did with Nip/Tuck, Glee and the American Horror Story franchise, and we expect the same of American Crime Story,” FX Networks CEO John Landgraf said of the project.” I have no doubt that Ryan and his partners … are going to make something very memorable here — and that it will be a spectacular first entry in what is destined to become a series of great true crime-based miniseries.”

Having already conquered horror with AHS and musical comedy-dramas with Glee, it seemed a given that the showrunner would eventually turn his attention to crime, particularly given the smash success of other dark crime dramas like HBO’s True Detective and FX’s own Fargo.

Murphy and the other brains behind American Crime Story are counting that the anthropology format will serve to keep viewers interested with a fresh theme every season. They’re also hoping that the show’s more flexible one-season schedule will help draw top actors, who may have otherwise been too busy to commit to the project. Given these factors and Murphy’s history of success with small-screen projects, it seems like American Crime Story could mark another hit for the show creator.

Production on American Crime Story is expected to begin in Los Angeles early next year.

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