Tag: american crime story

The Fix (ABC) pilot preview: American Crime Story – The People Vs OJ Simpson, a sequel

Written and executive produced by Marcia ClarkElizabeth Craft & Sara Fain (The Shield, Lie To Me, The Vampire Diaries, Dollhouse). Also produced by David Hoberman (Monk, Fighter), Todd Lieberman (The Family, Detroit 1-8-7) & Laurie Zaks (The Family, Castle). Directed by Larysa Kondracki (Rogue, Copper, Legion). For ABCABC Studios & Mandeville Television. 61 pages. 4th Revised Network Draft. 1/23/2018.

Description: After losing the biggest case of her career and being shredded by the media, former prosecutor Maya Travis has left Los Angeles for a quiet life in rural Oregon. Eight years after her devastating defeat, the murderer – a famous movie star- strikes again, forcing Maya to return to Los Angeles to confront him one more time. Will she play by the rules or will she do whatever it takes to get him behind bars?

With Robin Tunney (The Mentalist, Prison Break, The Craft, Empire Records), Adam Rayner (Tyrant, Hunted), Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Lost, Oz, Suicide SquadBreckin Meyer (Franklin & Bash, Clueless), Merrin Dungey (Big Little Lies, The Resident, Alias, The King of Queens), Mouzam Makkar (The Exorcist, The Vampire Diaries), Scott Cohen (Necessary Roughness, The Carrie Diaries), Marc Blucas (Buffy, Underground), Alex Saxon (The Fosters, Finding Carter), Daniella Alonso (Animal Kingdom, Revolution, Friday Night Lights)…

   

You’ll Like It If You Already Like: American Crime Story, The Good Wife, Murder One, Law & Order True Crime…

Likely timeslot: Thursday at 10 joining the TGIT?

 

Does the name Marcia Clark mean anything to you? For those who watched the excellent American Crime Story: The People Vs OJ Simpson, she was the lead prosecutor in the OJ Simpson case, played by Sarah Paulson. She resigned from the District Attorney’s office after the debacle and left trial practice behind. She became a “special correspondent” for news show providing coverage of high-profile trials and she wrote several novels based on her experience, as well as pilot scripts that were never produced. She’s one of the executive producer of The Fix and her story is obviously a big inspiration for the show. ABC insists on the fact that the drama is fictional. Still, its starting point draws a lot of parallels to what was called at the time “the trial of the century” and Maya Travis is also finding herself in the eye of a media storm like Clark did. The ambition is to examine the case from all sides of the law, going home with the characters and exploring how it is affecting their personal lives. And I have to admit the writers really captured something here. Unfortunately for them, they will be compared a lot to Ryan Murphy’s brilliant piece and they can’t compete. It doesn’t mean they shouldn’t try!

Part legal thriller, part confessional, part revenge fantasy, The Fix is as riveting as ABC promises but it’s never a good omen to be so many things at the same time. I’d leave the “revenge fantasy” part out of the equation. It gives the wrong impression. There’s the idea of redemption, that’s for sure, but Maya Travis is not Amanda Clarke from Revenge. She’s a far more interesting character, it seems. More mature. A legal thriller? That’s what describes it the best. And of course, because we’re on ABC, it’s soapy. Not the dirty kind. It stays classy, at least from Maya’s side. From the OJ-like murderer’s side, it’s another story. But can they beat the real OJ?! Not really. It’s very much the same man, or the idea we have of him at least. Steven “Sevvy” Johnson is a narcissistic, perhaps sociopathic, famous Oscar-winning actor that most people actually love because he’s charismatic and charming, and a very good liar too probably. He’s also black, which is a subject in itself like it was with OJ since he’s well-loved by the black community, or at least was. Well, the more I write about it, the more this show feels like a OJ Simpson vs The People‘s fictional follow-up! And I can’t decide if it’s a good thing or bad thing in terms of potential. It could bring more eyeballs than this kind of show usually does but there’s a downside to it: again, the comparison is not in The Fix‘s favor, as good as it is.

Also, they don’t have Sarah Paulson. From what I’ve heard, they were aiming for a big name to play the lead and sent a lot of offers. But the best they could get in the end was Robin Tunney from The Mentalist. I don’t mean to be disrespectful and it’s not like she’s an unknow actress either nor that she’s bad, but sadly she’s not much of a draw on paper. And these days, for a role like this one on a show like this one, it’s a big disadvantage. That being said, the cast looks strong overall, especially with Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Sevvy. He’s an excellent actor, much more skilled and charismatic than Cuba Gooding Jr. if you ask me, and easily scarier. OJ was shown as a bit dumb and immature. Sevvy seems like a far more manipulative person. There’s no real doubt about what he has done. What they need is actual proofs and that’s where the fun begins for us. He’s not an easy one to catch. And his defense team is nasty. And they hate Maya, as much as she hates them. We have all the ingredients for a thrilling legal drama. It could have been less Manichaean, it’s really the good guys vs. the bad guys, but that’s probably the price to pay if you want this show to be on a network and not on cable. It needs to stay easily readable and pretty straight-forward. I’m not sure how many episodes they can squeeze out of it, though. Problaby no more than 10 if they want to keep it as efficient and fast-paced.

Other characters are: Andre, who was Maya’s second chair during the high-profile trial (think the equivalent of Sterling K. Brown’s character) and there’s an undeniable connection between them; CJ, a DA investigator who was one of Maya’s closest friends and confidantes but they lost touch when she went away; Charlie Wiest, a spineless opportunist who doesn’t have enough power within the office to control its inner workings, despite his grave efforts, another pain in the ass for Maya; Loni Cho, a Deputy District Attorney and the lead attorney on the new murder case, with a secret; and finally Ezra, an extremely confident defense lawyer -an arrogant pitbull- who won the trail against Maya years ago and who defends Sevvy once again. Those are all strong characters who really exist within the story, who all play an important part.
The Fix is a bit of a dark horse in this pilot season for ABC since it doesn’t correspond at all to what they’re supposed to be looking for. It’s heavily serialized, soapy and pretty dark, and this type of shows did poorly those past few years when they were not from Shonda Rhimes. It would work better as a limited series. Being that different from the other competitors might be an advantage for a series order though. It won’t fix ABC’s drama problems but it could be a good low-profile addition.

American Crime Story: The People Vs. O.J. Simpson (FX) preview: Ryan Murphy’s safest work yet?

ACS

Pilot “From the Ashes of Tragedy” & Episode two “The Run of His Life” written & produced by Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszweski (Problem Child, Ed Wood, The People Vs. Larry Flint, Big Eyes). Co-produced by Ryan Murphy (American Horror Story, Glee, Nip/Tuck), Dante DiLoreto, Brad Falchuck, Nina Jacobson, Brad Simpson & John Travolta. Based on novel “The Run of His Life” by Jeffrey Toobin. Directed by Ryan Murphy. For FX, 20th Century FOX Television, Ryan Murphy Productions & Brad Falchuck Teleyvision. 61 pages & 54 pages.

Description: On June 12, 1994, Nicole Brown and Ronald Goldman are found stabbed to death outside in Los Angeles. American football player O.J. Simpson is quickly considered as a person of interest in their murders. On June 17, after failing to turn himself in, he becomes the object of a low-speed car pursuit. The pursuit, arrest, and trial were among the most widely publicized events in American history…

With Cuba Gooding Jr. as O.J. Simpson, Sarah Paulson as Marcia Clark, John Travolta as Robert Shapiro, David Schwimmer as Robert Kardashian, Courtney B. Vance as Johnnie Cochran, Jordana Brewster as Denise Brown, Billy Magnussen as Kato Kaelin, Selma Blair as Kris Jenner, Connie Britton as Faye Resnick, Steven Pasquale as Mark Furhman, and Cheryl Ladd, Bruce Greenwood, Malcolm Jamal-Warner, Evan Handler, Sterling K. Brown, Kenneth Choi

PREMIERING IN 2016 ON FX

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Whether you like him or not, every season is Ryan Murphy’s season for the past decade and next season may be his biggest one ever! Of course, American Horror Story will be back, minus Jessica Lange but with Lady Gaga for her very first starring role; meanwhile, he’s gonna launch Scream Queens aka American Horror Story meets Glee, minus the songs, which is expected to get a lot of buzz and hopefully substantial ratings for dying FOX; and in early 2016 he’ll bring American Crime Story, that could become HUGE for FX! The anthology series promises to explore a new real-life crime every year and Murphy decided to start big with the infamous O.J. Simpson trial that kept America breathless for months right in the middle of the 90s. It was tragic, fascinating and it is considered as the beginning of the modern tabloid age, at least in America. It also brought the Kardashian family to the world. And that’s… well… a curse for humanity we never recovered from.

Based on a book that was first published a few years later, in 1997, The People Vs. OJ Simpson doesn’t take any risks. The story as it is doesn’t need to be altered in any way (and I’m pretty sure they couldn’t do it even if they wanted to). It’s gold and it shows very quickly in the pilot script. It starts with real archive footage from the L.A. riots of 1992 when furious african-americans tore the city apart after another one of their own was beaten to death by LAPD cops, apparently for no reason. Then, cut to two years later, we’re by OJ’s side for the first time, a very nervous OJ sweating in his limousine, while a dogwalker is discovering the dead bodies of his ex-wife and fiancé in front of their house in another neighborhood. We’ve got everything we need to know in three minutes or so: OJ’s obvious guiltiness for a crime he must have committed (83% of Americans think he did it) and social context of the time, which sadly still resonates in 2015 with the Ferguson scandal, the riots in Baltimore… 20 years later, things haven’t change that much. The whole season, as the first two episodes make it clear, won’t only tell the story of the investigation, that was full of twists and turns and can only transform into great TV, it will also explain how OJ’s lawyers used the race factor to exonerate their client: he was surprisingly found not guilty (sorry to spoil those who didn’t know). And that’s ambitious, especially for only 10 episodes (with the second one being a crazy car chase “The Superbowl of car case” when OJ disappeared instead of showing up to the police).

We’ve got multiple perspectives. From the cops first, with the leading investigator being a woman -played by Sarah Paulson- who has a lot on her plate: she’s in the middle of a nasty divorce, she needs to prove to the men around her that she’s as capable as they are, if not more, and she needs to show to the people of Los Angeles that even a rich person cannot get away with murder, in order to restore faith in LAPD. Then from OJ’s defense team, with Robert Shapiro (John Travolta), a lawyer specialized in criminal defense AND celebrities, who doesn’t play by the rules and who is very good at manipulating everybody, so good he’s fascinating; Robert Kardashian (David Schwimmer) who is a defense attorney but OJ Simpson’ best friend first. He was used as a volunteer assistant in the case. He’s married to Kris Jenner and he’s the father of a certain Kim… (who doesn’t show up in the first two episodes and probably won’t appear later if you’re wondering). He seems very incompetent and ridiculous at times, like this moment when he has to read a suicidal note from OJ in front of the whole press. I guess HE was really ridiculous. Or the writers want to make him look bad, and that’s disturbing. OJ looks ridiculous too, but he probably was. He acts like a scared child. My only fear is that his scenes turn out to be funny. I mean… this man did so many stupid things and mistakes… Good luck to Cuba Gooding Jr.! Last but not least: Johnnie Cochran, an African-American lawyer who’s the one who used the “race card” during the trial. We’re also introduced to reporters and OJ’s family members. There are a lot of characters but the script is written so sharply with everything happening so fast that we’re never lost and completely hooked from beginning to end.

American Crime Story: The People Vs. OJ Simpson is Ryan Murphy’s safest work since forever (but he didn’t write a thing, he’s just directing and producing). You can’t do anything with a true story, but it’s sober where they could have been more scandalous and polemic. It’s documented, precise, smartly told and it will probably be very well acted with such a terrific cast. As the OJ Simpson’s case was at the time, this show is already fascinating. How come this was never adapted into TV series before?!