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Ryan Murphy Addresses Assassination Of Gianni Versace Controversy

Will the tension between Ryan Murphy and the Versace family become the next American Crime Story? 

With any luck, Murphy's recent response to the drama around his newest television venture, The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story, will help him skirt around that possible outcome. 

Murphy, who executive produces the upcoming limited series, addressed the controversy that began on Monday (January 8), when the Versaces asserted that the show is not an accurate depiction of circumstances surrounding the fashion mogul's untimely death. As he told Entertainment WeeklyThe Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story is a "work of non-fiction." 

"The Versace family has said [the series is] a work of fiction–it is not a work of fiction," he explained. "[The People vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story] was based on a non-fiction book by Jeffrey Toobin. Versace is based on a non-fiction book by Maureen Orth that has been discussed and dissected and vetted for close to 20 years. She worked for Vanity Fair. Maureen Orth is an impeccable reporter and we stand by her reporting."

Murphy then stated that The Assassination of Gianni Versace is based on Orth's reporting, and so "in that way, it is not a work of fiction," but rather is a "work of non-fiction... with docudrama elements." He added that he and the show's creative team weren't "making a documentary" with the show.

The Versaces released a statement on Monday condemning the impending mini-series, which opens on the cold-blooded murder of Gianni (played by Edgar Ramirez), whom Andrew Cunanan (Darren Criss) shot on the steps of his impeccable Miami mansion. The Assassination of Gianni Versace also explores the world-renowned designer's dynamic with his sister Donatella (Penelope Cruz), who continues to run the Versace brand today.

Their statement reads, "The Versace family has neither authorized nor had any involvement whatsoever in the forthcoming TV series about the death of Mr. Gianni Versace. 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."

Murphy noted that Donatella Versace "very graciously sent Penelope Cruz a lovely and huge flower arrangement saying 'good luck'" just a day before the statement was released, and said that Cruz called Donatella (the pair are friends in real life) to get her approval about playing her in the series. The creative further explained, "Penelope would never have done anything that was showing Donatella or that family in a bad light. What the show does, like it did for Marcia Clark on O.J., it shows Donatella in a true feminist light as a feminist hero. She, out of the blue, was put in one of the worst situations a person can endure, and she did endure. Not only did she keep her family together, but she kept this billion dollar business together and still has."

It remains to be seen whether Murphy and house Versace can squash their dispute before The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story debuts January 17 on FX.