During the summer, Olivia de Havilland sued FX and Feud creator Ryan Murphy for using her likeness in the show without her permission. She also turned her nose up at Catherine Zeta-Jones’ portrayal of her. 101-year-old Olivia later asked a court to speed up the legal process because, well, she’s 101 years old and every minute counts. Ryan Murphy’s side argued that any depiction of Olivia was protected under First Amendment rights. They also argued that they didn’t have to contact her for her “side” of the story. Olivia has recently responded.
The Hollywood Reporter says that in Olivia’s response, which was filed Friday, her attorney argues that supporting Ryan and FX’s “First Amendment” free speech logic would give docudrama creators unfair immunity. Ryan’s side claims they conducted meticulous research for the show. Olivia’s attorney says that claiming they did research shouldn’t excuse them from throwing facts and fiction into a blender, hitting puree, and calling it a docudrama. Especially during a specific scene where Olivia (CZJ) gets her shameless gossip on during an interview. Her lawyer writes:
“Appellants acted with reckless or intentional disregard for the truth or falsity of the challenged statements.”
A lawyer for Ryan Murphy and FX asked a court earlier this month to strike Olivia’s claims under California’s anti-SLAPP law. A SLAPP is a lawsuit filed with the intention to censor or silence critics until they abandon their position. Ryan and FX’s lawyer believe Olivia has no legal foot to stand on based on free speech laws, especially when it comes to that interview scene. The lawyer argued that the details of the interview were somewhat imagined, and that no “reasonable” viewer would watch the interview scene and think it was 100% fact. Olivia’s attorney slapped back, saying that scene defamed her character. Basically, Olivia de Havilland might not have been a snickering busybody in real life, but she thinks her character in Feud sure was.
“In that fake interview, Respondent gossips and makes negative comments about Davis and Crawford’s personal lives. Evidence that defendant made up a fake interview that never happened is grounds for a defamation claim….Respondent giving other interviews during her career about other subjects does not make the statements attributed to Respondent’ any less false. Mixing fact and falsehood makes the conduct worse, not better.”
I wish Olivia got how over-the-top and exaggerated Feud was, but I can also understand how pissed she was to find out she wasn’t portrayed 100% correctly (at least in her mind). And I’m the type of person who considers gossip to be one of the highest forms of communication. Unfortunately, the truth won’t come out until long after she’s gone. And even then, she probably shouldn’t count on the 100% truth. I have a feeling Ryan Murphy has already started writing the plot notes for Feud: Olivia and Ryan in the margins of her lawsuit.