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Monica Lewinsky Center Stage in FX’s ‘Impeachment: American Crime Story’

Impeachment on FX
(Image credit: FX)

Impeachment: American Crime Story premieres on FX Sept. 7, examining “the national crisis that swept up Paula Jones, Monica Lewinsky and Linda Tripp as principal characters in the country’s first impeachment proceedings in over a century,” according to FX

Beanie Feldstein plays Lewinsky, Sarah Paulson portrays Tripp and Annaleigh Ashford plays Jones. 

Lewinsky has a significant voice in the limited series, weighing in on the scripts. “Monica Lewinsky was our main consultant in terms of outside consultants on the show this season,” said executive producer Brad Simpson at a TCA event. “Once she became involved as somebody who was, you know, there for all of this, you know, we relied on her for specificity and veracity.”

Executive producer Nina Jacobson said it is a first for American Crime Story, to have the subject of the story get a say in how it is told. “She did not have a voice during this entire, unbelievably overwhelming series of events that happened,” said Jacobson. “And the thought that she was literally muzzled by Ken Starr, by her own lawyer, and that she cannot speak, she's told, ‘You can't even talk to your friends, because they could be subpoenaed.’" 

“And, so, to have been silenced and really culturally banished for 20 years, there was no way we could make this show and not give her a voice,” Jacobson added. “It would have felt utterly wrong.”

Clive Owen plays President Clinton and Edie Falco plays Hillary. “We had a very short list of actors that we thought about for Clinton,” said Simpson. “And Clive was at the top of that from the beginning. He's the only actor we went to. There were a lot of things that we were talking about, which is who has that physical presence? Who has that height? Who has that charisma?”  

Feldstein said the central relationship in Impeachment isn’t Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, or Bill and Hillary, but Lewinsky and Linda Tripp. “It’s very important to understanding why these two developed such a deep relationship, is that they're both women that want to not be invisible. They both landed at the Pentagon. They've been ostracized, they've been ousted to the Pentagon, and they both need each other,” said Feldstein. “And so, they're taken with one another.”

“The central relationship is Monica and Linda,” she added. “And it's the story of their coming together, their discovery of one another, and then their eventual parting ways, of course, with this huge, unbelievable betrayal.”

The first American Crime Story was The People v. O.J. Simpson and the second was The Assassination of Gianni Versace. FX is also working on the spinoffs American Sports Story and American Love Story. 

Impeachment is executive produced by Ryan Murphy, Nina Jacobson, Brad Simpson, Alexis Martin Woodall, Sarah Burgess, Sarah Paulson, Brad Falchuk, Scott Alexander, Larry Karaszewski and Michael Uppendahl. The series is produced by 20th Television and FX Productions.

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.