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Ryan Murphy on Why ‘American Crime Story’ Will ‘Never’ Tackle JonBenet or Menendez Brothers

TCA 2018: ”It has to be about something that looks at a bigger social issue“

In the recent true-crime boom on television, the disappearance of JonBenet Ramsey and the murders committed by the Menendez brothers have been two popular subjects for writers, but Ryan Murphy says he’d “never” take on either case for his FX anthology “American Crime Story.”

Murphy is preparing to launch “The Assassination of Gianni Versace,” and is in various stages of development on two other installments about Hurricane Katrina and the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Four seasons in, Murphy has developed a sense of what makes for a good “American Crime Story” story.

“It has to be about something that looks at a bigger social issue,” Murphy said at the Television Critics Association press tour on Friday. “I would never do JonBenet Ramsey or the Menendez brothers because those — I don’t now that they were about any meta social themes.”

The first season, “The People v. O.J. Simpson” memorably tackled the issue of race relations in America, and Murphy promises that “Versace” will comment on pervasiveness of homophobia in the 1990s, and how that motivated or contributed to the crimes of Andrew Cunanan.

“There’s a brilliant episode we did about being gay and being afraid to tell your parents,” Murphy said. “There’s an episode about being in the military and not being able to be out, and being beaten up and killed for that. All of those are incredible social stories. So I think that’s what the show always has to be about.”

Murphy also gave updates on the two other seasons, saying he plans to take his time to get the stories right. “Katrina” was recently delayed and redeveloped to tell a different story entirely, and the Monica Lewinsky installment doesn’t even have a writer attached yet.

“We’re interviewing writers,” Murphy said of the potential fourth season. “That’s a very tricky one, and I’m not in any rush to do anything unless it’s done right. I’m actually working on having dinner with Monica Lewinsky because I feel it’s very important that her point of view is represented. So I want to make sure we do it right.”

“We’re always quick to say, ‘This isn’t working, lets try another take,’ ” he continued. “That’s what we did with Katrina, because Spike Lee did this better. So we decided to tell a smaller story instead of the whole story.”