Five Days at Memorial Was Almost an American Crime Story Season

The upcoming Apple TV+ drama Five Days at Memorial, which tells the harrowing story of one hospital's struggle after Hurricane Katrina, was almost a Ryan Murphy show. Find out what went wrong.

By Daniel Trainor Jun 22, 2022 8:19 PMTags
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Five Days at Memorial is the rare TV show that doesn't involve Ryan Murphy—but he came close. 

The Apple TV+ drama, which stars Vera Farmiga and premieres August 12, tells the real-life story of a New Orleans hospital's struggle in the days following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. It turns out, Murphy originally had plans to use the story—based on the book of the same name by Sheri Fink—on a season of his acclaimed American Crime Story series.

In 2017, it was announced that Sarah Paulson was set to play Dr. Anna Pou, the role that now belongs to Farmiga, in a project titled American Crime Story: Katrina. However, the show never saw the light of day. Murphy later revealed it just became too difficult.

"We tried developing that. It was just too vast and expensive," he told Collider in 2020. "I ultimately just couldn't figure out how to crack it to be honest. I don't think we're going to be doing that."

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Instead, Murphy pivoted to Impeachment: American Crime Story, which premiered in 2021 and told the story of President Bill Clinton's impeachment trial following his affair with Monica Lewinsky. Clive Owen played Clinton and Beanie Feldstein played Lewinsky, with an ensemble cast featuring Edie Falco as Hillary Clinton, Annaleigh Ashford as Paula Jones and the aforementioned Paulson as Linda Tripp.

The American Crime Story franchise had two previous installments, with The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story airing in 2016 and The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story premiering in 2018.

Five Days at Memorial comes from Carlton Cuse, best known for his work on Lost, and John Ridley, who won an Oscar for writing 12 Years a Slave.

The series tells the true story of Dr. Pou, who injected 23 patients, all of whom she assumed would die, with lethal amounts of morphine while New Orleans' Memorial Medical Hospital remained without power following the hurricane.

Pou and two ICU nurses were later charged with second-degree murder. The charges against both ICU nurses were eventually dropped, and a grand jury chose not to indict Pou in 2007.

In the trailer, Farmiga says, "There is nothing else to do for them, except to make them comfortable."

Five Days at Memorial premieres August 12 on Apple TV+.

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