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‘Katrina: American Crime Story' Might Not Happen After All, Says Producer

The fate of Ryan Murphy’s prestige television take on Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath in the New Orleans community seems less and less certain. On Saturday, American Crime Story producer and director Anthony Hemingway stated that the production is “stalled” and that “nothing has really been done” to prep for the show that would document the aftermath of the most destructive natural disaster in U.S. history. 


Katrina was originally scheduled to be the second installment in Murphy’s American Crime Story franchise, a follow-up to the massively successful The People v. O.J. Simpson. According to reports, Murphy and his team planned to shape the series around Douglas Brinkley’s book The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast. 


Several key casting announcements have been made for Katrina, including Annette Bening as Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco, Matthew Broderick as FEMA Director Michael D. Brown, and Dennis Quaid as President George W. Bush. Members of Murphy’s stable — like O.J. stars Cuba Gooding Jr. and Courtney B. Vance as well as Murphy’s cross-series collaborator Sarah Paulson — were also set to return. 


In June 2017, it was announced that FX would instead air The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story, chronicling the slaying of fashion designer Gianni Versace at the hands of serial killer Andrew Cunanan, as the second season. The Hollywood Reporter cited scheduling conflicts for the A-list cast and special water effects to show Katrina's aftermath as factors to the delay, while Deadline pointed to production concerns (like only filming during certain times of year in New Orleans) and “material” issues as the roots for the postponement. 


Director-producer Hemingway, who directed five episodes of The People v. O.J. Simpson, sounded off on the delayed project. “We’re all standing by waiting to find out what’s happening,” he said at the Television Critics Association’s press tour on Saturday. “Who knows. It’s all up to Ryan Murphy.” 


Katrina, which is still scheduled to air sometime in late 2018, will follow a group people as they encounter all aspects of the devastating event. “I want this show to be a socially conscious, socially aware examination of different types of crime around the world,” Murphy said in 2016. “And in my opinion, Katrina was a fucking crime — a crime against a lot of people who didn’t have a strong voice and we’re going to treat it as a crime.” 

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