PURE FICTION: The first of the nine episodes of “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story” premieres on Jan. 17 on FX, and the Milan-based house of Versace on Monday released an official statement to clarify its stance.
“The Versace family has not authorized nor has it in any way been involved in the TV series dedicated to the death of Gianni Versace,” said the company. “Since Versace has not authorized the book from which it is partially drawn and has not taken part in writing the script, this TV series must be considered a work of fiction.”
This confirms comments made to WWD in October 2016. It is understood no legal action is being taken against the program.
The book Versace refers to is “Vulgar Favors” by Vanity Fair writer Maureen Orth, published in 1999, two years after the designer’s murder in Miami in 1997 at the hands of serial killer Andrew Cunanan. The series is directed by Ryan Murphy and comes on the heels of the Emmy-winning “People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story,” the opening episode of which was also directed by Murphy.
Gianni Versace is played by Edgar Ramírez and Versace’s partner Antonio D’Amico is played by Ricky Martin. Penélope Cruz stars as Versace’s sister Donatella, while Cunanan is played by Darren Criss.
In November, Donatella Versace told WWD’s Collections she was not tempted to watch the series and said: “I spoke with Penélope, she is a friend, she said she will treat me with respect — yes, but I don’t know what will be [shown], from a book that says incredible falsehoods.”
This is not the first time the Versace siblings have been an unwilling source of inspiration. In 2013, Lifetime broadcast its original movie “House of Versace.” On that occasion, the company said that it “neither authorized nor had any involvement whatsoever in the forthcoming TV movie about Mrs. Versace.” The firm also took issue with the book that triggered that film, Deborah Ball’s 2010 “House of Versace: The Untold Story of Genius, Murder and Survival.”