BEVERLY HILLS - Returning Oct. 7 for a 13-week run, "American Horror Story" has become one of those "event" series that command viewer devotion and award committee votes, with no sign of flagging attention by either. Enter, this fall, the fifth installment, "Hotel," which -- until this very post -- has remained a mystery.
But a mystery no more. We have it all for you right here -- quotes, cast details, facts . . . You almost don't even have to watch. But of course you will.
The basics -- it will be set in a creaky LA hotel (think the one in "Barton Fink") while a key theme this season is addiction -- drugs, mostly.
FX's panel Friday offered a reasonable approximation of why this has been such a success -- foremost, the outstanding cast, which --even though Jessica Lange is not returning for this season -- remains very much a boutique ensemble comprised primarily of regulars (like Sarah Paulson) who have captured exactly what showrunners Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk are selling -- an ungodly brew of comic-camp creepiness, horror, sex, violence, insanity and inanity.
Somehow it all works or mostly works with "Coven" and "Asylum" less so of the five seasons. Credit is due to this cast.
Here's what Murphy said to expect of the new season:
"We were really inspired by the idea of a hotel [because] there was a surveillance video that went around two years ago that just showed a girl getting into an elevator in a downtown hotel that is rumored to be haunted, and she was never seen again. "
Falchuk says, "the first season intentionally really trapped you in that house in a very specific way and the second season was very oppressive in that asylum. This is kind of like horror sneaking out of the hotel. The hotel is the center of it, but it's kind of dripping out and we're out on the streets a lot more. . . . But there is that same feeling of, like, when you go home, wherever your bed is, wherever your safe space is, it's the least safe place you can be in the entire world."
Meanwhile, here are key cast members explaining their characters, and as you probably know, Lady Gaga has a cameo in the fifth season, too.
ANGELA BASSETT: "I play Ramona Royale, and I am sexy as well, yet not in a drug addict kind of way . . . And my character is also this fabulous, you know, actress of the day. I don't live at the hotel, but I visit very often."
FINN WITTROCK: "I'm playing a male model named Tristan Duffy, who is sort of always looking for the next high."
CHEYENNE JACKSON: "I'm playing Will Drake, fashion icon. He needs . . . he's trying to creatively re-establish himself, so he moves from New York to Los Angeles, father, and a little desperate."
DENIS O'HARE: "I am playing Liz Taylor, movie icon. I'm not actually playing Elizabeth Taylor, but I'm playing a person who is inspired by the awesomeness of things like "Butterfield 8" and "Cleopatra," and eye makeup, like that."
CHLOE SEVIGNY: "I play Alex Lowe, and I am the wife of Wes Bentley, and a mother, and a doctor, and I'm dealing with a great loss we had in our family, and coming to grips with that, among other things."
MATT BOMER: "I play Donovan, who is a denizen of the Hotel Cortez, closely associated with Ms. Gaga and Ms. Bates, and Mr. Wittrock, among others. And he has very interesting relationships with the lady folk in his life. I'll just leave it at that."
WES BENTLEY: "I play Det. John Lowe, married to Alex, Chloe's character. Like she said, we had a great loss in the family. I'm investigating some grizzly murders, which somehow leads me to check into the hotel."
KATHY BATES: "I play Iris. I also am very, very sexy. What else? I run the hotel. I have relationships with Matt Bomer and with Wes. And I can't stand you. I hate you."
SARAH PAULSON: "I play Sally. I live at the hotel. I hate Iris in a rather ancient way, for reasons that are revealed quickly. I have a kind of budding something with Wes's character, sort of dark and sorry you don't know this yet."