Don’t expect future seasons of American Crime Story to focus on the courtroom.
“We’ll never do another trial again like we did with People v. O.J. Simpson,” executive producer Ryan Murphy tells EW. “I don’t want to do the Menendez [brothers] thing — we did that. So every year, every season we’re looking at a way to sort of plant the flag of that show into something but have it be dramatically different.”
To that end, Murphy, 51, already has two seasons of American Crime Story in development for 2018: a take on the 1997 murder of fashion designer Gianni Versace at the hands of serial killer Andrew Cunanan and another cycle centered on Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. (A possible fourth season has begun to take shape as well: On Wednesday, the ACS creative team and studio optioned A Vast Conspiracy, Jeffrey Toobin’s book about the legal fallout of the affair between then-President Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky.)
“I think with American Crime Story whenever we do a crime, it has to sort of have a social context to it,” Murphy says. “Like O.J. had sexism and racism and all of that stuff, and Versace-Cunanan has a huge amount of homophobia and celebrity worship — and why did that happen in that beginning of that culture?”
Murphy says Hurricane Katrina stands as a serious offense as well, especially against the disenfranchised citizens of New Orleans who were left behind in the city by the U.S. government’s slow response to the natural disaster.
That’s the true crime in my book,” Murphy says of Katrina. “It’s a different way of looking at a crime but a crime nonetheless.”
That flexibility is what Murphy enjoys about his anthology series — one of a number he’s currently working on, including American Horror Story and Feud (which will debut on FX in March). “I like that about the show, that it can sort of go and explore different aspects of crimes,” Murphy says about American Crime Story.
Casting is underway for both upcoming shows, but Murphy hasn’t decided yet on who will star. (As of last month, he was still meeting with actors to appear in the Versace cycle.)
“The interesting thing that I’ve learned in my career now is I used to be like, ‘Let’s hurry up and get it done.’ And now I’m like, ‘You know what? No. Let’s stop, let’s wait, let’s have the luxury of attack mode,’” Murphy explains. “That’s what we did with Feud, which I liked. Even though it happened really quickly, we spent a lot of time in prep, we spent a lot of time working on the scripts. We started shooting with five or six of the eight episodes kind of done. I like that and I think it sort of makes a better show.”
Feud debuts March 5 on FX.