Olivia de Havilland sues FX, Ryan Murphy over Feud portrayal
FX and Ryan Murphy have another feud on their hands.
Hollywood grande dame Olivia de Havilland is suing the network and Murphy’s production company over what she contends is an unauthorized and inaccurate portrayal of her in the TV series Feud: Bette and Joan, her lawyers announced Friday.
Based on the rivalry between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, Bette and Joan aired earlier this year and featured Catherine Zeta-Jones as de Havilland. Despite de Havilland being the only living person who was depicted as a major character on the show, the Gone With the Wind actress was not consulted about it.
“Miss de Havilland was not asked by FX for permission to use her name and identity and was not compensated for such use,” her legal team said in a press release. “Further, the FX series puts words in the mouth of Miss de Havilland which are inaccurate and contrary to the reputation she has built over an 80-year professional life, specifically refusing to engage in gossip mongering about other actors in order to generate media attention for herself.”
De Havilland, who lives in Paris and turns 101 on Saturday, filed the complaint in Los Angeles Superior Court on Friday.
Her lawyers further alleged that “FX and its partners appropriated Miss de Havilland’s name and identity and placed her in a false light to sensationalize the series and to promote their own businesses, including the FX network and brand, ignoring Miss de Havilland’s interests entirely.”
Suzelle Smith, an attorney for de Havilland, said in a statement, “A living celebrity has the right to protect her name and identity from unauthorized, false, commercial exploitation under both common law and the specific ‘right to publicity’ statute in California. FX was wrong to ignore Miss de Havilland and proceed without her permission for its own profit.”
De Havilland’s lawyers said they intend to file a motion seeking an expedited trial date because of de Havilland’s age.
FX declined to comment on the lawsuit. Representatives for Murphy did not immediately respond to EW’s request for comment.
Earlier this year, the producer acknowledged in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter that he did not contact de Havilland about Feud. “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?'” Murphy said, adding, “I didn’t want to intrude on Ms. de Havilland.” Her portrayal in the series was instead based Murphy’s own research, including an interview he conducted with Davis shortly before her death in 1989.