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Olivia de Havilland Sues FX, Ryan Murphy Over ‘Feud’ Portrayal

Variety logo Variety 6/30/2017 Alex Stedman
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On the eve of her 101st birthday, Olivia de Havilland is serving FX with a gift of her own — a lawsuit.

The actress is suing the network, along with Ryan Murphy Productions, over her portrayal in “Feud,” saying that it paints her in a false light, according to court documents obtained by Variety. The lawsuit claims that “Feud” “puts words in the mouth of Miss de Havilland which are inaccurate and contrary to the reputation she has built.”

Catherine Zeta-Jones portrayed de Havilland in the anthology series. The lawsuit argues that de Havilland has built a reputation of integrity for herself, and refrains from gossip. The series, however, paints an opposing picture.

While de Havilland remains the only person alive who experienced the events surrounding the titular feud — Bette Davis and Joan Crawford died in 1989 and 1977, respectively — the suit says that no one consulted her for the series. The documents point to the opening scene of the series, which depicts an interview with de Havilland where she gossips about Davis and Crawford, noting that FX “promoted and advertised that ‘Feud’ was intentionally designed to look as if it was reality.”

“In fact, all statement 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. Such an interview never occurred,” reads the suit, accusing the production of putting “false words” into de Havilland’s mouth.

It also points to “Feud’s” portrayal of de Havilland’s relationship with her sister, Joan Fontaine, “again demeaning her reputation for being a lady in the face of unfair and untrue personal attacks.”

“For example, in the fifth segment of ‘Feud,’ ‘And the Winner Is… (The Oscars of 1963),’ Zeta-Jones’ Havilland refers to Joan Fontaine as her ‘bitch sister,’ an offensive term that stands in stark contrast with Olivia de Havilland’s reputation for good manners, class, and kindess,” it says, maintaining that the actress “did not, and does not, engage in such vulgarity.”

She is suing for common law right of publicity, statutory right of publicity, unjust enrichment, and invasion of privacy. In addition to emotional distress damages, she is seeking profits gained by FX for the use of her likeness, and for a permanent injunction barring FX from continuing to use her likeness.

FX had no comment. Variety has reached out to reps for Murphy and Zeta-Jones along with the studio.

See the full lawsuit below.

De Havilland “Feud” suit by gmaddaus on Scribd

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