British writer Tom Rob Smith, who wrote on FX’s The Assassination of Gianni Versace, has claimed that UK broadcasters are starting to make writers more central to the process of creating drama, bringing them into line with the U.S. business.
Rob Smith, who also wrote Working Title TV’s London Spy for BBC Two and BBC America, was an executive producer for the latest instalment of Ryan Murphy’s American Crime Story franchise, which ended in the U.S. last night and airs on BBC Two in the UK.
“At the moment writers are considered more central to the process in the U.S. than in the UK, but the UK model is in the process of changing,” he said.
This comes as Rob Smith, who also wrote feature film Child 44, based on his book, starring Gary Oldman, Tom Hardy and Noomi Rapce, is currently prepping MotherFatherSon, an eight-part drama for BBC Two, a political and psychological thriller set in London and produced by Six Feet Under and Westworld producer Alan Poul.
Rob Smith also lifted the lid on the process of writing The Assassination of Gianni Versace, which looked at the 1997 murder of the fashion designer through the eyes of Andrew Cunanan. He said that the material – the drama is largely based on Vulgar Favors, written by Vanity Fair journalist Maureen Orth – was challenging. “Andrew Cunanan is intriguing and human in his early years, but gradually descends into addiction and murderous madness, so the challenge was how to structure the story because once Cunanan starts killing he can’t be the centre of the episodes.
He said that he had read everything that had ever been written on Versace, but added, “I was surprised by how little attention and scrutiny he’d been given, considering he was such an amazing man”
“The most unusual aspect of this show is that the victims are the central characters, they are the heart and soul of the piece. I have to admit, before I read the book all I knew of the case was that Versace had been shot on the steps of his Miami mansion, it’s remarkable to me that the entire story was in shadow. Those other victims were extraordinary people, their stories deserved to be told,” he said.
Rob Smith also addressed the fact that the Versace family, which neither authorized nor had any involvement in the show, claimed that the show “should only be considered as a work of fiction.” He said, “Their position is the same as they had with the source material – their statement is very similar. In the end, this is a celebration of an amazing man, it was a tragedy that Versace was taken from the world, both from his family, and from a creative perspective. We set out to contrast why one man was so great, and one man became so despicable.”