Versace family calls upcoming FX true-crime series 'work of fiction'

'The Assassination of Gianni Versace' premieres Jan. 17

Edgar Ramirez as Gianni Versace
Edgar Ramirez as Gianni Versace (FX)

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – The family of Gianni Versace has distanced itself from an upcoming true-crime TV series about the slain fashion designer, calling the show "a work of fiction."

"The Assassination of Gianni Versace" is the second entry in the FX network's American Crime Story anthology. The show, based on a nonfiction book by journalist Maureen Orth, premieres Jan. 17.

The series will tell the story of Andrew Cunanan, who murdered Versace in 1997 outside his Miami Beach home. The fashion designer's death sparked a nationwide manhunt for Cunanan.

"The Versace family has neither authorized nor had any involvement whatsoever in the forthcoming TV series about the death of Mr. Gianni Versace," the family said in a statement Monday. "Since Versace did not authorize the book on which it is partly based nor has it taken part in the writing of the screenplay, this TV series should only be considered as a work of fiction."

FX responded to the family statement by saying that the Versace series is similar to that of season one of American Crime Story, "The People Vs OJ Simpson," which was based on Jeffrey Toobin's book "The Run of His Life."

"The Assassination of Gianni Versace" is based on Orth's book "Vulgar Favors." She originally reported on the case for Vanity Fair magazine. The network called Orth's work "heavily researched and authenticated." 

"We stand by the meticulous reporting of Ms. Orth," the network said.

The Simpson series was a mostly faithful adaptation of "The Run of His Life" by Toobin, who covered the case as a legal reporter for The New Yorker.  However, the series contained several dramatic flourishes that did not appear in Toobin's book. 

For example, the children of Simpson friend and lawyer Robert Kardashian -- now celebrities as adults -- had an expanded role in the TV series.

Some key players from the OJ Simpson case, like prosecutor Marcia Clark, praised the TV series while acknowledging it wasn't a documentary. 

"It delivers an essential truth, because they don’t have time to deliver on the exact way it went down," Clark told New York Magazine in 2016. "But, essentially, it is correct."

"The Assassination of Gianni Versace" stars Edgar Ramírez as Versace, Darren Criss as Cunanan and Penelope Cruz as Donatella Versace.