When Gianni Versace was shot on the front steps of his Ocean Drive mansion in 1997, Miami and the rest of the world mourned the loss of one of fashion's most iconic and influential personalities. His horrific murder was such a defining event that many residents still think of his death as a way to mark the passage of time, almost like a local BC/AD.
Twenty years after the designer's gruesome end, a film crew has returned to Ocean Drive to re-create the gory scene. The story of Versace's murder will be told in season three of American Crime Story, the FX series that won an Emmy for its first season, The People v. O.J. Simpson.
Led by former Miami Herald-employee-turned-TV-show-creator Ryan Murphy, the ACS team arrived in South Beach this week to shoot exterior footage of the homicide. According to a schedule released by the city, crews began filming at the Ocean Surf Hotel Tuesday and will shoot in front of the former Versace mansion, now the boutique hotel Casa Casuarina, today through May 18.
The News Café, where Versace ate his final meal, will be the backdrop for a Monday session, and Tuesday will bring SWAT teams and the sound of simulated gunfire to Ocean Drive as the show's crew reenacts the murder. Venezuelan actor Edgar Ramirez has been cast as Versace, and Penelope Cruz will play his sister Donatella. Versace's partner, Antonio D'Amico, will be portrayed by Ricky Martin.
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It goes without saying that traffic will be affected by the filming — expect even more chaos than usual around Ocean Drive as police cordon off the area to facilitate production. In an attempt to keep things historically accurate, the city has removed the ubiquitous Parkmobile signs and will "restore the area with a prop toilet and graffiti."
Though the show's exterior scenes will be shot in South Beach, producers have already begun filming interior scenes in California, apparently because of Florida's lack of incentives. (Some say we can blame the Koch brothers for that issue.)
Despite the brutal nature of Versace's killing, Miami Beach officials seem pleased as punch to accommodate the TV show: A news release from the city insists "the primary focus of the series is on the hardworking Miami Beach and Miami-Dade police departments, which were able to quickly solve the crime."
Cops chased down serial killer Andrew Cunanan, who committed suicide in a nearby houseboat just a few days after he murdered Versace.