After a tremendously successful first season that depicted the O.J. Simpson trial, the next installment of Ryan Murphy's anthology series American Crime Story will focus on the murder of fashion designer Gianni Versace.
"We're trying to talk about a crime within a social idea," Murphy told reporters on the Fox lot. "Versace, who was [Andrew Cunanan's] last victim, did not have to die. One of the reasons he was able to make his way across the country and pick off these victims, many of whom were gay, was because of homophobia at the time."
Murphy added that the issue of homophobia remains equally relevant two decades later "particularly with the president we have."
Cunanan killed at least four people before he murdered Versace in Miami. At the time of the 1997 murder, he was on the FBI's most-wanted list and was assumed to be living in South Florida, but Miami police refused to put up wanted posters. As Murphy pointed out today, this was an effect of Cunanan's victims being openly gay men. Police were later criticized for not warning of the threat the serial killer posed to the gay community.
"More than why he was killed, I think it was why it was allowed to happen," Murphy said.
He also shared that it was a deliberate choice to use the word "assassination" rather than "murder" in the show's title. "I think the word assassination has a political overtone," Murphy explained. "It denotes someone who's taken a life to prove a point. And I think that's what Andrew Cunanan did."