Ryan Murphy's series Feud: Bette and Joan has managed to get even juicer despite having finished its limited run in April. Olivia de Havilland, the only living actor portrayed in the show about the story of Bette Davis and Joan Crawford's long-running feud is suing Murphy's production company and FX, the network that aired the show.
De Havilland filed suit in the California State Court in Los Angeles on Friday. The complaint alleges that the production misappropriated her "name, likeness and identity without her permission and used them falsely in order to exploit their own commercial interests." The complaint also refers to Feud as a "pseudo-documentary-style television series" and claims that this "pseudo-documentary-style" was used to lead viewers to believe that the statements and actions taken by Ms. De Havilland in the show were accurate.
In addition to the show's dialogue and style, the complaint specifically points to the hair, make-up, and wardrobe choices made for Catherine Zeta-Jones, who portrayed Olivia de Havilland in the show. "Her black gown, capped with sheer sleeves, is exactly the same," De Havilland's lawyers assert. "Her diamond necklace, hanging from a black cord, is copied, as are her dangling earrings. Even her hair, which was coifed out at the back for the ceremony in real life, has been replicated with precision." Apparently, imitation is not always considered the highest form of flattery. Zeta-Jones's chin gets its own nod from the lawyers. "The make-up team of Feud even fitted a chin prosthetic to Zeta-Jones in order to further duplicate the actual appearance," they claim.
De Havilland's complaints boil down to the fact that she says the portrayal is false and no one asked her for the truth. Among other things, the lawsuit is seeking damages, any profits made from the use of her likeness, and an injunction from FX and Ryan Murphy's production company from continuing to profit from the show. So far, neither FX nor Murphy has commented.
This all comes after a charming episode (at least it seemed charming then) last spring where Ms. De Havilland wrote a now-famous email to The Hollywood Reporter saying that she had never seen the show, generally disliked when shows were made about dead people ("personages no longer alive" in her words) who couldn't comment, and had no memory of any of the events from the 1963 Oscars. Murphy loved De Havilland's response and professed his love for the woman herself. "She is forever a lady," he told E! News.
As it turns out, not only did she not care for stories about "personages no longer alive" but once she got around to watching it, she didn't have much time for Murphy's story about her very-much-alive personage either.
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