“Vanity Fair Confidential” is set to air an episode revolving around Bill Cosby and the rape allegations against the embattled comedian on Monday, but he won’t be the focus.
“We were not out to try the case, or to have the story that we were telling take a point of view as far as the issue of guilt or innocence,” executive producer Steven Weinstock told TheWrap. “It was more about the expression of these women.”
The show, which adapts stories previously published in Vanity Fair magazine in documentary style, is taking on Beverly Johnson‘s 2014 account of being drugged and raped by the comic actor as a young woman. It will feature interviews with Johnson and several of Cosby’s other victims.
“You really begin to understand the trauma they all suffered,” Weinstock said. “And even though in many cases it was a long time ago, it’s very much alive.”
Read the full interview below:
TheWrap: What made you decide to adapt Beverly Johnson‘s story on your show?
Weinstock: “Vanity Fair Confidential” comes from the magazine, it takes advantage of some of the best non-fiction writing about scandals, mysteries, murders, falls from grace, etc. And looking at the catalog of stories that the magazine has covered, we thought Beverly Johnson‘s piece was a really compelling first-person story. And we decided that since the Cosby story is very much in the news, that we would look and see if we could take her story and adapt it for television.
What can the television medium bring to the story that wasn’t a part of the original written version?
[This episode] was really about giving women who haven’t communicated their stories the ability to do so. We were not out to try the case, or to have the story that we were telling take a point of view as far as the issue of guilt or innocence. It was more about the expression of these women … You really begin to understand the trauma they all suffered. And even though in many cases it was a long time ago, it’s very much alive. It has a life which they all live every day. I think that’s something that the written article can’t convey, that seeing them on television can … There’s difference in seeing the real characters. Seeing who they are, seeing how they feel.
What makes the Cosby story such a compelling choice?
Well you have an icon of American popular culture being accused of doing something heinous. And actor, character who represented a lot of aspirations of all Americans, and what’s being alleged is that this person was at least a really, really bad guy.
How involved is the magazine in the production of the show?
They’re fairly involved, in terms of the choice of subjects. And, obviously, the writers are the key elements of every story. We go through extensive interviews with those writers. We will sit down and interview them for several hours. And we go through a really rigorous interview process with them, going over their notes, their recollections, and the story as they wrote it. All of that goes into making sure the editorial integrity of the show matches the original story.
Why is Vanity Fair a good partner for this kind of show?
Vanity Fair has a history of being a place where this kind of story has been a key element. So some of the best non-fiction narrative writers are being published in Vanity Fair. Whether it’s Bryan Burrough, or Buzz Bissinger, or Mark Seal, or Clara Bingham, Robert Sam Ans0n, Michael Shnayerson. All of these people are some of the best non-fiction writers in America.