It will be a cornucopia of nostalgia when FX takes us back to the Golden Age of Tabloid Television with “American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson”, a 10 part miniseries revisiting the sensational case 20 years after it reached its divisive verdict.
In an announcement today, the network revealed the series ensemble will also feature one of the great pieces of nostalgia casting of recent times, with John Travolta taking on his first television role an astonishing 36 years he departed the little screen at the conclusion of “Welcome Back, Kotter”s four season run.
Despite career ups and downs in the decades since, Travolta has apparently never looked back at the medium that he so dominated in the heartthrob role of Vinnie Barbarino, as well as his first major dramatic turn in the Made-for-TV movie, “The Boy in the Plastic Bubble.”
After suffering a career-near-death slump in the 1980″s with a string of big screen flops including “Perfect”, “Two of a Kind” and the legendary “Saturday Night Fever” sequel “Staying Alive”, Travolta”s career was restored to perma-cool status in the OJ Simpson era when Quentin Tarantino cast him as one of the leads “Pulp Fiction.”
In” American Crime Story,” based on the book by New Yorker legal writer Jeffrey Toobin, Travolta will take on the role of Simpson”s brash, pugilistic defense attorney Robert Shapiro. The part will not be the first larger-than-life, non-fictional character Travolta has played, having previously walked a tightrope of controversy when he starred as a thinly veiled portrait of a ethically flexible Bill Clinton in Mike Nichol”s 1998 film “Primary Colors.”
The rest of the announced “American Crime Story” cast also seems drawn from a magazine page of the 1990″s, with 1996 Oscar winner Cuba Gooding Jr. appearing as Simpson, and “Friends” star David Schwimmer taking on the role of attorney Robert Kardashian.
The series is being written by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, veteran of film biopics including “Big Eyes” and “The People v. Larry Flynt.” “Glee/American Horror Story” auteur Ryan Murphy will direct the first episode. The series begins shooting this spring. No air date has been announced.