Feud: Bette and Joan was a hoot, if you’re into glamorous Golden Age of Hollywood catfights and loyal maids telling the groundskeepers to shut up about not getting paid. Susan Sarandon was crackling as she sort of gave us Bette Davis. I’m not sure who Jessica Lange was playing but, nonetheless, she was entertaining as hell.
The series was structured around other Hollywood stars of yore giving fictional interviews about Bette and Joan Crawford at an Oscars ceremony in the 1970s. Bette’s loyal bestie, Olivia de Havilland, was played by Catherine Zeta-Jones as a classy broad (despite referring to her own legendary feud with her “bitch sister,” actress Joan Fontaine) and just chock full of gossip about the two insane divas. Despite her positive portrayal, Olivia is suing television gay mafia head and Feud creator Ryan Murphy and FX. Look for Ryan to make this into a series for Feud’s sixth reboot in 2047.
The Hollywood Reporter sez that Olivia is suing Ryan Murphy Productions and Feud’s network FX for “infringement of common law right of publicity, invasion of privacy and unjust enrichment.” She also wants to ensure that Ryan and FX keep her name and likeness out of their mouths from here on in, and that she gets paid for any profits resulting from their usage of her.
Olivia, who lives in Paris and turns 101 today, sent an elegant e-mail to The Hollywood Reporter back in April explaining that she’d never seen the show and had no intention of scheduling a recording on her DVR. She must have really thought on it since then, because now she wants some $$$ for having her likeness sullied by the vulgar medium of television.
In a complaint filed Friday in L.A. County Superior Court, de Havilland claims she has built a reputation for integrity and dignity by refraining from gossip and other unkind, ill-mannered behavior — but the series opens with Zeta-Jones doing an interview as de Havilland and creates the impression that she was a hypocrite who sold gossip to promote herself.
“[A]ll statements made by Zeta-Jones as Olivia de Havilland in this fake interview are completely false, some inherently so; others false because they were never said. FX defendants did not engage in protected First Amendment speech in putting false words into the mouth of Olivia de Havilland in a fake interview that did not occur and would not have occurred.”
Olivia, whose most famous role was Melanie from Gone With The Wind, is the only person still living who was around during the events Feud portrayed. Despite this, Ryan Murphy took a break from the 3,456 projects he’s currently involved in to admit that he never consulted with her.
“I didn’t write Olivia because I didn’t want to be disrespectful and ask her, ‘Did this happen? Did that happen? What was your take on that?'”
Guess he should have intruded! Hopefully, this results in a trial in which Ms. de Havilland will solemnly and elegantly take the stand in a black veil while grasping her beloved tea cup poodle in her lady gloved-hands. (Of course she owns one of those!) She will answer every single one of the questions asked of her with perfect diction and will end her testimony with a dignified monologue about privacy and why you shouldn’t mess with 101-year-old rich ladies who live in Paris.