Last year’s FX limited series American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson took the most overexposed news story of the 1990s and improbably turned into one of the most entertaining TV shows of the year. Thanks to outstanding writing and nearly perfect casting, the O.J. miniseries kept a nation riveted just as they had been back in 1994 and 1995, while deftly handling the issues of racism and sexism raised by the O.J. case, and humanizing characters (especially Sarah Paulson’s Marcia Clark) who weren’t given a fair shake at the time. The series won nine Emmy Awards, on 22 nominations.
Plans soon emerged for several more seasons of American Crime Story, from prolific TV creator Ryan Murphy. Future seasons will handle two other huge events from the 1990s, the rampage of serial killer Andrew Cunanan and the Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky sex scandals. But season 2 will cover Hurricane Katrina — and we finally have more casting news.
Matthew Broderick will star in Katrina: American Crime Story as Michael Brown, who was the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at the time Katrina ravaged New Orleans, and was widely blamed for the federal government’s lackluster response. Broderick joins Annette Bening, who was cast earlier this month as then-Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco.
While Katrina was announced as the second American Crime Story series last year, not much had been announced about the series; in fact, the lead of the third series, in which Darren Criss will play Cunanan, was announced a few weeks ago. Not much else has been announced about Katrina, except that Nina Jacobson and Brad Simpson are executive producers along with Murphy, and the series is based on Douglas Brinkley’s nonfiction book, The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
If the O.J. season is any precedent, Katrina: American Crime Story will tell the story of Katrina from beginning to end, with recognizable actors playing the likes of Blanco, George W. Bush, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, and various survivors of the hurricane. Since Brown appears to be the big role, chances are the series will take a more positive view of him.
The challenge for the producers will be to tell a continuous story about as sprawling an event as Katrina, and have it match up with previous descriptions of the tragedy and its aftermath, including HBO’s Treme and Spike Lee’s multipart documentaries When the Levees Broke and If God is Willing and the Creek Don’t Rise.
Katrina: American Crime Story will debut on FX in 2018.