Ricky Martin defends Versace murder drama as respectful

LOS ANGELES — Ricky Martin said he reassured Gianni Versace’s longtime partner Antonio D’Amico that the pair will be treated respectfully in a TV drama about Versace’s 1997 murder.

“I’ll make sure people fall in love with your relationship with Gianni,” Martin, who plays D’Amico in FX’s “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story,” recounted telling him.

Martin said he spoke by phone Wednesday to D’Amico after he had publicly criticized the series for what he called inaccuracies. It’s in production and set to air in January.

Executive producer Ryan Murphy, taking part in a panel discussion Wednesday, said D’Amico may have been judging the project based on a paparazzi photo snapped during filming outside Versace’s Miami Beach mansion. It’s where the famed fashion designer was shot by serial killer Andrew Cunanan.

But Murphy said the series is a drama and not a documentary, adding, “you have to be respectful but make it your own.” It’s part of his “American Crime Story” anthology that began with the Emmy-winning “The People v. O.J. Simpson.”

The reference to “assassination” in the title is deliberate, Murphy said.

The word has a political overtone that indicates killing to make a point, “and that’s exactly what Andrew Cunanan did,” he said of the man believed to have killed at least four others before Versace. Cunanan committed suicide about a week later as police tracked him.

Cunanan was targeting gay men and Versace was among the rare celebrities who dared to be open about their sexuality at a repressive time, Murphy said. That motivation and law enforcement’s failure to stop the murders, which Murphy blamed on homophobia, were chief reasons he decided to make the series.

“Versace was the last victim and he didn’t have to die,” he said.

Venezuelan actor Edgar Ramirez (“The Girl on the Train”) plays Versace, with Darren Criss (“Glee”) as Cunanan and Penelope Cruz as Versace’s sister, Donatella.

Murphy said the series honours the loss of all Cunanan’s victims who were taken too soon. But Versace was a genius whose potential to disrupt society was lost, he said.

“We’re in a world that Gianni Versace created,” Ramirez said, one that combined sexiness, glamour and opulence in unparalleled ways.

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