The Real Olivia de Havilland Is Suing FX Over ‘Feud’ Portrayal
The delightful Olivia de Havilland remains at 101 (!) the last living star portrayed in FX’s Feud: Bette and Joan, to which she added extra spice with her IDGAF admission that she’d never seen the show. Well, de Havilland apparently found time, and is now suing FX over Catherine Zeta-Jones’ “inaccurate and contrary” portrayal.
A refresher: Back in April, The Hollywood Reporter managed to email a then-centennial de Havilland to ask what she thought of the FX drama, and the tumultuous 1963 Oscar ceremony it depicts. Just getting a response should have been enough, though her blunt “having not seen the show, I cannot make a valid comment about it” and “I have no memory of [the 1963 Oscar ceremony] whatsoever and cannot vouch for its accuracy” offered gloriously indifferent burn.
Ryan Murphy himself was amused by her candor, though it seems his original impulse not to imposition the legendary star for input on Feud came back to haunt him. As the Los Angeles Times reports, the now 101 year-old de Havilland has filed suit in Los Angeles Superior Court against FX and Ryan Murphy Productions, “based on the unauthorized commercial use of Dame Olivia’s name and identity in the FX hit series.”
Said attorneys Suzelle M. Smith and Don Howarth:
Miss de Havilland was not asked by FX for permission to use her name and identity and was not compensated for such use. 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. […]
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.
That’s certainly in line with de Havilland’s initial response, which also noted “in principle, I am opposed to any representation of personages who are no longer alive to judge the accuracy of any incident depicted as involving themselves.” And if you’re wondering why de Havilland would opt for a legal battle at age 101, the Times notes “Her team plans to file a motion seeking an expedited trial date because of de Havilland’s age.”
Season 2 of FX’s Feud is already booked to follow Prince Charles and Princess Diana, but might FX now think twice about Murphy depicting real-life figures?