EXCLUSIVE: Ryan Murphy and Plan B have set a second installment of their FX anthology series Feud. Titled Capote’s Women, the project will star two-time Oscar nominee Naomi Watts as Babe Paley who ruled the glamorous world of New York society in the 1960s and 70s. Two-time Oscar nominee Gus Van Sant is set to direct all eight episodes, with Tony and Pulitzer-nominated Jon Robin Baitz, who put together the high-profile package, writing all episodes and serving as showrunner.
An adaptation of Laurence Leamer’s bestselling book “Capote’s Women: A True Story of Love, Betrayal, and a Swan Song for an Era,” the miniseries is set in the 1970s, and ends with Truman Capote’s death in 1984. It chronicles the tale of the famous wunderkind author as he stabs several of his female friends — whom he called his “swans” — in the back by publishing a roman à clef short story called “La Côte Basque 1965” in Esquire in 1975. The piece was intended to be a chapter in Capote’s infamous unfinished novel “Answered Prayers,” his followup to the blockbuster “In Cold Blood.”
Following the enormous success of “In Cold Blood,” Capote was the toast of New York high society who counted the city’s most beautiful, stylish, and wealthy women as close friends, his swans. The list of top socialites in his inner circle included Babe Paley, wife of CBS head Bill Paley, who will be played by Watts in Feud: Capote’s Women; Slim Keith; Pamela Churchill Harriman, ex-wife of Winston’s son and future wife of Slim’s husband; Lee Radziwill, sister of Jackie Kennedy; Gloria Guinness and C.Z. Guest.
La Côte Basque‘s characters were thinly disguised versions of Capote’s female confidants and exposed their shocking secrets and scandals, from adultery to murder. Its publication destroyed Capote’s friendships, with all of his swans cutting him off, as well as his reputation and his social standing.
Worldwide search is underway for an actor to play Capote in Capote’s Women. Other Oscar-nominated and winning actresses are being approached to star alongside Watts playing Capote’s Socialite Swans, including Slim, Pamela, Lee, Gloria and C.Z., as well as Johnny Carson’s second wife Joanne Carson, a good friend of Capote’s who remained close to him until his death. Casting these roles is expected to kick into high gear next week, spearheaded by the miniseries’ producing team of Baitz, Watts and Van Sant.
The first installment of Feud, created by Murphy, Jaffe Cohen, and Michael Zam, attracted Oscar winners Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon as the leads, rival Hollywood icons Joan Crawford and Bette Davis.
Brothers & Sisters creator Baitz, Milk director Van Sant and Watts are producing Feud: Capote’s Women alongside Murphy, Plan B’s Dede Gardner, Tim Minear, Alexis Martin Woodall, Lange and Sarandon who all executive produced/produced Feud: Bette and Joan. 20th Television is the studio, producing with Plan B Entertainment and Ryan Murphy Productions. Filming is slated to begin in New York this fall.
Babe Paley was featured in an episode of the Murphy-executive produced Netflix limited series Halston where she was played by Regina Schneider.
The 2005 movie Capote, set during an earlier period of the novelist’s life, starred Philip Seymour Hoffman, who won an Oscar for the title role, with Michelle Harrison playing Babe Paley. In the 2006 film Infamous, Capote was played by Toby Jones, with Sigourney Weaver as Babe Paley and Hope Davis as Slim Keith.
Debuting in 2017, Feud: Bette and Joan garnered strong reviews and earned 18 Emmy nominations, including Outstanding Limited Series and two Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie noms for Lange and Sarandon.
At the time, there was an idea for a Charles and Diana-focused second season of Feud which did not materialized.
This marks the latest series set in 1970s New York for Murphy, joining Halston as well as the upcoming Studio 54 installment of American Crime Story. Additionally, he executive produced FX’s acclaimed series Pose, set a decade later, also in NYC.
Capote’s Women extends Watts’ relationship with Murphy; she also stars in his upcoming Netflix series The Watcher. She currently headlines the feature Infinite Storm. Watts is repped by CAA and Untitled Entertainment. Van Sant is repped by WME; Baitz is repped by CAA.
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