The second season of FX’s American Crime Story, The Assassination of Gianni Versace, is still a week away from its premiere, but the limited series is already drawing ire from the titular fashion designers family. The Versace family has released statements condemning the new season as a “work of fiction.”
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The Versace family had no involvement in the series, nor with the book on which it is based. The Assassination of Gianni Versace is inspired by Maureen Orth’s book Vulgar Favors: Andrew Cunanan, Gianni Versace and the Largest Failed Manhunt in U.S. History. The Versace estate takes serious issue with the book and its author, claiming that it’s full of hearsay and contradictions designed to make the story more sensational.
Here is the full statement released by the family of Gianni Versace:
“As we have said, the Versace family has neither authorized nor had any involvement whatsoever in the forthcoming TV series about the death of Mr. Gianni Versace, which should only be considered as a work of fiction.
The company producing the series claims it is relying on a book by Maureen Orth, but the Orth book itself is full of gossip and speculation. Orth never received any information from the Versace family and she has no basis to make claims about the intimate personal life of Gianni Versace or other family members. Instead, in her effort to create a sensational story, she presents second-hand hearsay that is full of contradictions.
As just one example, Orth makes assertions about Gianni Versace’s medical condition based on a person who claims he reviewed a post-mortem test result, but she admits it would have been illegal for the person to have reviewed the report in the first place (if it existed at all). In making her lurid claims, she ignores contrary information provided by members of Mr. Versace’s family, who lived and worked closely with him and were in the best position to know the facts of his life.
Gianni Versace was a brave and honest man, who engaged in humanitarian work for the benefit of others. Of all the possible portrayals of his life and legacy, it is sad and reprehensible that the producers have chosen to present the distorted and bogus version created by Maureen Orth.
The Versace family will issue no further comment on the matter.”
The series centers on the 1997 murder of Gianni Versace as well as the journey of serial killer Andrew Cunanan that led to that moment (Versace was his fifth victim). Ironically, part of the show involves Gianni’s sister Donatella (played by Penelope Cruz) doing everything she can to protect her brother’s public image after his death.
This is a slightly different reception from the first season of American Crime Story, which centered on the O.J. Simpson trial. Sarah Paulson even brought Marcia Clark, who she played, to the Emmy Awards as her guest.
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Will the condemnation by the Versace family cause viewers to avoid the new season, or will it attract even more attention? Viewers hoping for something similar to the first season will be sorely disappointed. The first season was a deep, detailed courtroom drama, focusing on the social implications of the trial. Season 2 is more of a psychological examination of a serial killer, offering gruesome recreations of the murders.
Perhaps the one thing the Versace family will be pleased with is that they are a surprisingly small part of the series. Gianni and Donatella don’t even appear in several episodes, and when they do Gianni is represented as a saintly, almost flawless human being, someone who is universally adored while maintaining his humility.
The first season of American Crime Story premiered with over 5 million viewers. Subsequent episodes averaged around 3 million viewers and the series earned critical acclaim and dominated awards shows throughout the year. Can season 2 do the same?
Are you more or less likely to watch The Assassination of Gianni Versace after hearing what the Versace family had to say?
The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story premieres Wednesday, January 17 at 10/9c on FX. For more TV news, like BuddyTV’s Facebook page.
(Image courtesy of FX)