Impeachment: American Crime Story Showrunner on Introducing Younger Generations to Linda Tripp

FX’s Impeachment: American Crime Story showrunner Sarah Burgess has spent years crafting the first television show to dramatize the affair between President Bill Clinton and former White House intern Monica Lewinsky — and to tell the story of Linda Tripp, who leaked details of their affair to investigators.

Viewers who followed the ubiquitous story in the late ’90s remember Tripp well. But Burgess is aware that younger viewers may be hearing about her for the first time.

“Monica Lewinsky herself was made so famous by this crisis, that name is still known, even to teenagers. And, of course, Monica’s reemergence in the past few years has made her a positive public icon for young women,” Burgess said. “But… I remember talking to someone who was in their late 20s and didn’t know the name Linda Tripp at all.”

Longtime Murphy collaborator Sarah Paulson (American Horror Story, Ratched) plays Tripp in Impeachment: American Crime Story. But the real-life Linda Tripp passed away in 2020 before she could ever see Paulson’s portrayal of her on cable television. Tripp and Lewinsky became friends while working at the Pentagon. Tripp has faced immense scrutiny for recording her phone calls with Lewinsky, who revealed intimate details about her sexual relationship with the president. But Burgess made a point to be very fair in telling Tripp’s side of the story.

Also Read: Impeachment: American Crime Story Showrunner Wishes She’d Met the Real Linda Tripp Before She Died

“Different generations are going to hear and feel and experience the story very differently,” Burgess said. “For some people, this would be good information — and some people have read every book and podcast and know all the sort of intricacies of it. I was at a dinner last night where my friend… was telling her friend all about a very specific incident that I do depict in the show, and she hadn’t even seen my show yet. So it’s really fascinating to play to all these different audiences and I’m really curious how it’s all going to land on everybody differently.”

Without Linda Tripp, one could argue that Monica Lewinsky might never have become a household name. But Burgess feels differently.

“Linda’s decision to record Monica, and then to deliver those tapes to Ken Starr’s office, ensured that Monica would be caught up in a federal investigation. I don’t personally believe that Linda wanted to have something as horrible happen to Monica as happened to her. That’s my personal belief in sort of writing this character for several years. I don’t think she understood exactly the forces that she was unleashing,” Burgess said. “They were forces of misogyny, and they landed on Linda, too, and the tragedy of this tragic story is that Linda unleashed forces that harmed a young person who I believe she was friends with, and I don’t think she had that intention for harm of that level to occur… we also wouldn’t know who Monica is if not for Bill Clinton, and Ken Starr, and Matt Drudge, and Michael Isikoff.”

New episodes of Impeachment: American Crime Story air Tuesday nights at 10 p.m. on FX.

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Strike Coming?; Behind Tammy Faye; Venom and Bond

Editors, cinematographers and more could soon go on strike; a closeup look into The Eyes of Tammy Faye; James Bond and Venom try to tag-team a box-office heist. All in today’s Movie News Rundown.

Dune, Sweet: The Denis Villeneuve film is off to a promising start, earning nearly $36 million from 24 overseas markets, Variety notes.

Behind The Eyes of Tammy Faye: Caleb Hammond talks to Michael Showalter, director of the televangelism biopic, who explains that he likes the challenge of taking “seemingly unlikable characters” and trying to “find the humanity in them,” beyond their superficial past portrayals. The film stars Jessica Chastain as singer, evangelist and makeup enthusiast Tammy Faye Bakker, and the interview covers a lot of detail about how Showalter made it.

Strike: One of the entertainment industry’s most essential unions will hold a strike authorization vote after contracts broke down with producers. IATSE represents over 150,000 editors, grips, operators, cinematographers, sound technicians, costumers, make-up artists, hair stylists, writers assistants, script coordinators and other industry professionals in North America. In a statement yesterday, IATSE leaders said the AMPTP, which represents unions, said it would not respond to IASTE’s latest proposal. “This failure to continue negotiating can only be interpreted one way. They simply will not address the core issues we have repeatedly advocated for from the beginning,” the IATSE leaders said in the statement.

What’s at Issue: The two sides are under a media blackout, which means few specifics have come out. But rest periods, higher wages and funding for IATSE’s health and pension plan are key issues.

The Response: The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, the industry’s collective bargaining representative, says in a statement that it offered “a deal-closing comprehensive proposal that meaningfully addresses the IATSE’s key bargaining issues,” and would cover a “nearly $400 million pension and health plan deficit” while making “substantial improvements in rest periods, increases in wages and benefits, increases in minimum rates for specific job categories and increases in minimum rates for New Media Productions.”

Bond and Venom: Variety quotes Paul Dergarabedian, a box office authority and senior media analyst with Comscore, saying that the one-two punch of Venom: Let There Be Carnage on Oct. 1 and No Time to Die on Oct. 8 could kick off a “busy” fall box office. Venom: Let There Be Carnage and No Time to Die are perfectly positioned to entice the 18-to-30 year-olds who have driven the comeback of the movie theater in the latter part of the summer,” he says. Variety also says the end-of-summer release Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings looks likely to be the first pandemic-era film to cross $200 million domestically.

Comment of the Day: “Michelle Williams?” — MovieMaker publisher Deirdre McCarrick, upon seeing that the four-time Oscar nominee is in Venom: Let There Be Carnage.

Why Yes: In fact we did open today’s Rundown with a reference to Dude, Where’s My Car.



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