Versace Family Condemns 'Reprehensible' 'American Crime Story'

Creator Ryan Murphy defends his upcoming FX series, based on Maureen Orth's 1999 book 'Vulgar Favors'

Ryan Murphy's upcoming FX series, 'The Assassination of Gianni Versace,' is based on Maureen Orth's 1999 book 'Vulgar Favors.' Credit: Jeff Daly/FX

The Versace family issued a second statement Wednesday condemning FX's upcoming series, The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story, seemingly in response to showrunner Ryan Murphy's recent defense of the show.

"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 said in a statement. "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. Instead, in her effort to create a sensational story, she presents second-hand hearsay that is full of contradictions."

The statement specifically called into question Orth's assertions about the late fashion designer’s medical condition at the time of his death, which she wrote based on reports made by a person who claimed to have viewed a post-mortem test result.

"She admits it would have been illegal for the person to have reviewed the report in the first place (if it existed at all)," the statement reads. "In making her lurid claims, she ignores contrary information provided by members of Mr. Versace's family, who lived and worked closely with him and were in the best position to know the facts of his life."

The family then condemned the TV series in its entirety for taking Orth's book as a work of nonfiction.

"Gianni Versace was a brave and honest man, who engaged in humanitarian work for the benefit of others," the statement reads. "Of all the possible portrayals of his life and legacy, it is sad and reprehensible that the producers have chosen to present the distorted and bogus version created by Maureen Orth. The Versace family will issue no further comment on the matter."

On Monday night, Murphy defended the FX series at the show's premiere, though he acknowledged that the Versace family is "in a really interesting, difficult situation."

"All I know is this: Donatella sent Penelope Cruz flowers yesterday. They are very close friends," he said, according to Harper's Bazaar. "As for them calling our work a 'work of fiction,' I don't agree with that. It's based on a very acclaimed nonfiction book called Vulgar Favors by Maureen Orth that has been vetted for almost two decades."

Murphy also likened the portrayal of Donatella Versace (Cruz plays the celebrated designer in the series) to that of Marcia Clark (played by Sarah Paulson) in the previous season of American Crime Story, The People v. O.J. Simpson.

"I always looked at Donatella really as a sort of a feminist heroine in the same way I looked at Marcia Clark as that," he said. "She stepped into an impossible situation, she kept her family intact, she kept her family's business intact, and she did it with kindness, elegance and grace."