After learning that the second entry in FX's American Crime Story anthology series would center on the assassination of Gianni Versace, the Italian designer's family released a statement calling the production a "work of fiction." On the same day, Ryan Murphy and many cast members of The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story hit up ArcLight in Hollywood for the premiere, where Murphy told reporters he understood the Versace family's hesitance to embrace the project.
"Donatella Versace sent Penélope Cruz a very large arrangement of flowers yesterday when she was representing the show at the Golden Globes," Murphy told the Hollywood Reporter Monday. "I don't know if she is going to watch the show, but if she did, I think she would see that we treat her and her family with respect and kindness, and she really is sort of a feminist role model in my book because she had to step into an impossible situation, which she did with grace and understanding."
As for the family's assessment of the production, Murphy gets it. "Of course I feel if your family is ever portrayed in something, it's natural to sort of have a 'Well, let's wait and see what happens' [attitude]," Murphy said. "But I think that [Donatella Versace] really loves Penélope and knows that Penélope would never do anything to represent her in a negative light."
Following Murphy's comments, the Versace family issued a second statement to Entertainment Weekly. "As we have said, the Versace family has neither authorized nor had any involvement whatsoever in the forthcoming TV series about the death of Mr. Gianni Versace, which should only be considered as a work of fiction," the family's new statement said, in part. "The company producing the series claims it is relying on a book by Maureen Orth, but the Orth book itself is full of gossip and speculation. Orth never received any information from the Versace family and she has no basis to make claims about the intimate personal life of Gianni Versace or other family members." Read the full statement here.
Assassination stars Ricky Martin, Édgar Ramírez, Darren Criss, and the aforementioned Cruz as Donatella Versace. The hotly anticipated production follows the hugely successful inaugural season depicting the murder trial of O.J. Simpson.
"You can't top O.J.," Murphy told THR Monday. See if that holds true when Assassination premieres Jan. 17.