John Travolta is coming back to television, and it’s for a pretty juicy part. FX announced today that the Welcome Back, Kotter actor has taken on a starring role in the upcoming miniseries American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson. From American Horror Story creator Ryan Murphy, American Crime Story is a new anthology series that will focus on a different true crime story each season. They’re swinging for the fences in Season 1 with the O.J. Simpson trial, and Travolta will be playing attorney Robert Shapiro, a key member of Simpson’s defense team. He joins David Schwimmer (Robert Kardashian), Cuba Gooding Jr. (O.J. Simpson), and Sarah Paulson (Marcia Clark) in the cast, and Travolta will also serve as a producer on the series.
This fairly wild piece of casting just pushed American Crime Story from “morbid curiosity” to “must watch” in my book. Read the press release after the jump.
LOS ANGELES, January 7, 2015 – Welcome back indeed! In his first television starring role since Welcome Back, Kotter, award-winning actor and producer John Travolta will star as defense attorney Robert Shapiro in the FX miniseries American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson, from Executive Producers Ryan Murphy, Nina Jacobson, Brad Simpson, Scott Alexander, Larry Karaszewski, Brad Falchuk, and Dante Di Loreto.
The two-time Academy Award® nominated and Golden Globe® Award winning Travolta will portray Shapiro, a key member of O.J. Simpson’s “Dream Team” during the sensational murder trial. He will also serve as a producer of the 10-part miniseries.
Travolta joins a stellar cast which includes David Schwimmer as O.J. Simpson’s confidant and attorney Robert Kardashian, Academy Award winner Cuba Gooding Jr. as O.J. Simpson, and Emmy® and Golden Globe Award nominated actress Sarah Paulson as prosecutor Marcia Clark, who currently stars in American Horror Story: Freak Show.
American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson is written by Golden Globe-winning producers Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski (Big Eyes, The People v. Larry Flynt). Emmy and Golden Globe award winning producer and Emmy Award winning Director Ryan Murphy (American Horror Story, The Normal Heart) will direct the first episode. American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson is produced by Fox 21 Television Studios and FX Productions. Production begins this spring in Los Angeles.
Based on the book The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson by Jeffrey Toobin, the miniseries is a look at the O.J. Simpson trial told from the perspective of the lawyers. It explores the chaotic behind-the-scenes dealings and maneuvering on both sides of the court, and how a combination of prosecution overconfidence, defense shrewdness, and the LAPD’s history with the city’s African-American community gave a jury what it needed: reasonable doubt.