Audiences were thrilled this past February when The People v. O.J. Simpson dropped on FX. They clicked with the story they knew so well from the early ’90s, in a culture that is not so much different from our own, and brilliantly acted by some of our most well-known stars.
With all that in mind, it can seem ludicrous that Fox nearly said no to their crowning glory, but according to a recent story by the Hollywood Reporter, that’s exactly what happened.
Dana Walden is the co-chairman and CEO of Fox TV Group, and she sat down to explain how The People v. O.J. Simpson almost slipped through the cracks.
“Miniseries are challenging business propositions because they don’t really travel very well internationally. They’re just sort of one-off events. And I kept saying to Ryan [Murphy], ‘You can’t do this because it is a terrible piece of business, because it is not an ongoing series. … We have to find a way to make it an ongoing series.’ ”
But the fervor was intense, especially from Murphy’s camp. Walden also described the instantaneous process of getting the script into her hands within moments after her new job placement:
“Gary [Newman, the co-chairman of Fox TV Group] and I had been in the job for about an hour — I’d not even seen the scripts,” Walden explained. “Ryan called me and said, ‘I’m obsessed. You have to read these scripts.’ And the scripts are page-turners. They are the juiciest, best-written [screenplays with] characters so complex, you connected immediately to the injustice, to racial discrimination, to the misogynistic environment that Marcia Clark worked in.”
The scene was set for Fox’s passion project, but the network was still a little unsure. The subject material was still highly provocative; should it not have been based off of Jeffrey Toobin’s account entitled The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson, the series could have faced legal issues before even getting off the ground.
Finally, Murphy was the man to put forth a solution. If miniseries were so dangerous because they were one-offs, why not make The People v. O.J. Simpson be the start of the new franchise entitled American Crime Story?
This idea finally pushed Fox to greenlight the project, and now audiences can see the awards and acclaim pile on while they watch the newest installments of American Crime Story.