FX’s true-life companion to “American Horror Story,” the anthology series “American Crime Story,” premieres Feb. 2 with perhaps the most infamous case in American history, “The People v. O.J. Simpson.” From memories of the LAPD’s slow-speed chase of Simpson’s white Ford Bronco—televised live and recently recaptured in Brett Morgen’s ESPN/”30 for 30″ documentary “June 17, 1994“—to the poster’s allusion to Johnnie Cochran’s unforgettable line—”If the glove doesn’t fit, you must acquit”—”ACS” seems unabashed about tapping into a two-decade-old zeitgeist. (See the poster, and more clips from the series, below.)
Casting is everything in a story with such familiar, provocative personas, though the involvement of “The Hunger Games” producer Nina Jacobson is reason for confidence. (Has there been a better match between iconic character and performer in recent memory than Katniss Everdeen and Jennifer Lawrence?) Cuba Gooding, Jr. stars as Simpson; Courtney B. Vance and John Travolta step in as defense attorneys Cochran and Robert Shapiro; and “AHS” regular Sarah Paulson plays prosecutor Marcia Clark.
Jacobson’s a hot hand at the moment. She recently inked a deal with “Bridge of Spies” screenwriter Matt Charman for high-concept YA project “Wilderness” and is attached to the adaptation of Steve Hamilton’s novel “The Second Life of Nick Mason.” As executive producer, Jacobson also has two additional TV projects in the works: “Aftermath,” FOX’s planned limited series about a flu pandemic, and A&E’s hip-hop crime drama “The Infamous.”
Creators Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski have tackled a courtroom drama before, with “The People vs. Larry Flynt” (1996), but their recent output (“Big Eyes”) has been less successful with critics, and one wonders how their more straitlaced realism will gel with the over-the-top mayhem of Murphy’s “AHS” brand. FX’s extensive promotional campaign suggests that the series expects to bring in at least a few rubberneckers—the more subdued “Justified” and “The Americans” this is not.