Having been granted an expedited trial in her lawsuit against FX and Ryan Murphy over her depiction in Feud: Bette and Joan earlier this week, Olivia de Havilland today reprimanded the Emmy-nominated series for putting foul words in her mouth. She also rejected the series’ attempt to wrap itself in the First Amendment.
“I did not give my permission to the creators of Feud to use my name identity or image in any manner,” the 101-year-old two-time Oscar said in a declaration (read it here) included Friday with her lawyers’ opposition response to FX’s attempt to get her amended and originally filed June 30 lawsuit tossed out.
“I did not tell any director or producer that my sister, Miss Joan Fontaine was a ‘bitch,’ ” de Havilland adds in the Independence Day declaration filed in LA Superior Court today. “This kind of vulgarity is not language that I use.
“The false statements and unauthorized use of my name, identity and image by the creators of Feud have caused me discomfort, anxiety, embarrassment, and distress,” she concludes.
The matter is now set to go to trial before a jury on November 27 if Paris-based de Havilland’s suit survives the anti-SLAPP-based dismissal filed by FX on August 29. The First Amendment motion by the defendants has a September 29 hearing before Judge Holly Kendig that could make or break it.
One day before her 101st birthday, the Hold Back the Dawn and The Heiress actress put her sweeping damages and injunction-seeking complaint before the court.
Represented by Don Howarth, Suzelle Smith and Zoe Tremaye of L.A.’s Howarth & Smith, the action claims that the portrayal of de Havilland by Catherine Zeta-Jones in the March 5-debuting FX anthology series executive produced by Murphy damaged her “professional reputation for integrity, honesty, generosity, self-sacrifice and dignity.”
Repped by Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp LLP, FX and producers Fox 21, respectfully, disagree. “The law on this is very clear: No permissions of any kind were required in order to tell the tale,” the studio said in a July 26 statement. “Docudramas, such as this one, are original narrative works, based on real, verifiable facts and events.”
Clearly, de Havilland disagrees with that and Friday her attorneys sought to argue why FX’s anti-SLAPP argument is thin gruel.
“Defendants are wrong under the controlling law and facts here, and de Havilland’s complaint may not be properly stricken under anti-SLAPP,” said the opposition from the Howarth & Smith team on FX’s motion to strike (read it here). “Defendants admit that they wanted to make the de Havilland character in Feud as much like the real celebrity as possible in order to give the docudrama authenticity,” the lawyers note of their legendary client, drawing from a declaration by Murphy on his eight-episode series about Joan Crawford and Bette Davis.
“They use de Havilland’s Identity, doing what she does in her real professional life, capitalizing on her fame,” the response goes on to say. “The fact that the words attributed to her and the purported endorsement are false does not transform the character into anything other than an exact depiction of de Havilland.
”Based on controlling law and the clear and convincing evidence submitted by all parties, viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, the Motion should be denied in its entirety,” the 15-page opposition concludes.
Whether the lawsuit has an impact on Feud’s chances at the 69th annual Primetime Emmy Awards, we will see on Sunday. With Sarandon and Lange facing off in the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie race and eight other nominations of the show’s 18 total this year, Feud is certainly well placed. Yet, the August 28-ending voting period was going on as legal claims were flying back and forth from the Hollywood icon and the defendants.
Feud has already taken home Outstanding Hairstyling and Outstanding Makeup (Non-Prosthetic) at the Creative Emmys.