Seeking a jury trial, sweeping damages and unplugging the potential Emmy-contending show with an injunction, the two-time Oscar winner says her portrayal by Catherine Zeta-Jones in the anthology series damaged her “professional reputation for integrity, honesty, generosity, self-sacrifice and dignity.”
“Olivia De Havilland did not give her permission for FX Defendants to use her name, identity, or likeness in Feud or any of the promotional materials used by the FX Defendants to advertise themselves, their products and services,” states the complaint charging infringement of right of publicity, invasion of privacy and unjust enrichment that was filed Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court. “FX Defendants knew that they did not obtain Olivia De Havilland’s permission to use her name, identity, or likeness in their documentary or the advertisements of their products and services,’ the 33-page filing adds (read it here).
FX had no comment on the suit from the only person portrayed in the show who is still alive, neither did producers 20th Century Fox TV. Susan Sarandon stars as Bette Davis and Jessica Lange portrays Joan Crawford. Lawyers for de Havilland say that they will seek to get a speedy trial because of their client’s advanced age. Plus, remember, previous successful legal action by the actress back in the day saw the creation of California’s seven-year contract rule unofficially known as the de Havilland Law – a move that helped bringing down the studio’s stranglehold on performers’ careers.
Throughout Feud, the Zeta-Jones played de Havilland appears in a mock documentary from 1978 taking abut the relationship between the adversarial Crawford and Davis. She also shows up at the 1963 Oscars as a supporter of Davis’ and makes numerous remarks about the nature of Hollywood and being an actress in the dirty business of show business.
“Olivia De Havilland did not give any such interview and never made these statements about Miss Davis and Miss Crawford or their relationship,” says attorneys for the self-described “living legend and unique role model for multiple generations of actors and fans” in the complaint.
“The interview is fake and the statements attributed to Olivia De Havilland are false,” lawyers Don Howarth, Suzelle Smith and Zoe Tremaye of L.A.’s Howarth & Smith also note. “This interview itself and the statements attributed to Olivia De Havilland are contrary to her public and private image and reputation and have caused her economic, reputational, and emotional damages, including distress, anxiety, and humiliation.”
De Havilland’s lawsuit also references the backstage high drama at the 1963 Oscars. “At the 1963 Academy Awards, Zeta-Jones’ de Havilland comments to Bette Davis, portrayed by Susan Sarandon, that Oscar host Frank Sinatra must have drunk all the alcohol in the backstage lounge, because they cannot find any, the compliant says, getting three legends in one line. “All of this is untrue and casts Olivia De Havilland in false, hurtful and damaging light.”
All of which also means that there is a new feud for Feud even before it returns for a second season looking at the failed marriage of Prince Charles and Princess Diana.