In his never-ending quest to apparently turn every story that’s ever even vaguely interested him into a prestige TV limited series, Ryan Murphy announced this morning that he intends to produce shows based on the iconic ‘90s romance of John F. Kennedy Jr. and Carolyn Bessette, the shady business shenanigans of Studio 54, and the murder trial of NFL star Aaron Hernandez. Here’s the kicker: these projects aren’t even part of his mega-deal with Netflix, trumpeted as the largest deal for a producer in all of TV history, but rather for FX under his existing American Crime Story Franchise. We suppose we can now update our ranking of who really works the hardest: 3. The Devil 2. Kris Jenner 1. Ryan Murphy.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Studio 54 series will be the fourth installment of the American Crime Story franchise following the upcoming Impeachment season. While the Manhattan nightclub was famed for attracting bold-faced names for nights of disco-soundtracked debauchery, its founders Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager were eventually convicted of tax fraud and spent time in prison. In case you’re wondering, yes, parts of the story were already fictionalized in Mark Christopher’s 1998 film 54—the one where Mike Meyers plays Rubell and Ryan Phillippe plays a hot drug-addicted bartender. (The 2012 director’s cut re-release is generally believed to be superior if you’re interested.) It’ll be intriguing to see how Murphy intends to differentiate his take.
The dramatization of JFK Jr. and Carolyn Bessette’s romance will come under the banner of a new spin-off titled American Love Story. The real-life whirlwind romance, of course, rocked Manhattan in the ‘90s: JFK Jr.–the only son of the former President and Jackie O—was America’s most eligible bachelor. Bessette was a fashion PR executive with impeccable style of their own. But rumors of impassioned fights and an occasional bump or two of cocaine always haunted them until their tragic deaths during a plane crash in 1999. Bessette’s life has never been told on screen in a major way—though she was a major focus in Carole Radziwill’s book What Remains and was credited as the inspiration for Rosamund Pike’s performance in Gone Girl. It feels like someone was going to tell this story eventually, so why not Murphy? Even if he has to invent an entirely new “American _______ Story” rubric to do it.
As for the Rodriguez tale, well, that will come under a new banner, too. This one: American Sports Story. Still fresh in the headlines, the NFL star committed suicide in prison shortly after being acquitted of double homicide. If you’re wondering what, in particular, may have drawn Murphy to the tale, perhaps it was the posthumous revelation that Hernandez had secret relations with men.
The introduction to the “Love” and “Sports” spin-offs implies that there may be more installments down the road. Still, the news that these projects are for FX may come as something of a surprise. Murphy signed a five-year deal with Netflix back in 2018 worth a reported $300 million. Although it allowed him to continue producing his existing shows with FX and Fox, this does feel like stretching the boundaries of that arrangement. Murphy’s Netflix output, including The Politician, Ratched, and Halston, hasn’t quite hit the same cultural and critical highs that his best work at Fox and FX did.
FX certainly seems pleased to remain in the Murphy business, though.
“When Ryan Murphy came to us with these two spin-offs and the stories for American Sports Story and American Love Story, we immediately jumped at the opportunity,” FX chairman John Landgraf said in a statement according to The Reporter. The network also recently launched American Horror Stories through their Hulu portal, and another season of American Horror Story is in production.
No word yet on when these series will arrive, and no casting has been publicly set. But you have to wonder if the man has thought, “Sarah Paulson as Jackie O ...could that work?” to himself.