The appearance of a fictional Olivia de Havilland on FX’s Feud is about to turn into a real-life feud within the Los Angeles courts.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the 100-year old actress has filed suit against both the network and Ryan Murphy Productions for what she claims to be an unfair use of her likeness within the series. Catherine Zeta-Jones played the part on the series, and the character was depicted as both a talented actress and also a purveyor of hobnobbing among the rich and famous. Her real issue seems to be the idea that the show paints her as a gossip, something that she claims is entirely untrue and very much different from the reputation that she established for herself over the course of a long career.
In a statement, here’s what her attorneys had to say:
“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.”
We’re not going to comment on the actual legality of this case, largely because of the fact that we are not a legal expert by any means. What we do know is that this case could set an interesting precedent when it comes to what Murphy and FX want to do with some of their future productions. The big thing to remember here with him is that we are writing about someone who has many other series, including The People v. OJ Simpson, Katrina, and The Assassination of Gianni Versace, that are all based on real people. Within the world of the “biopic” that he is creating comes of course a little bit of creative license. How much is too much? When do you draw the line in terms of what is authentic and what is a fabrication for television? The results of this case could open the door for him to face further legal action from other real-life people depicted on other shows. It could be a floodgate sort of phenomenon.
The second season of Feud is slated to be all the more high-profile, with the story revolving around Princess Diana and Prince Charles. The two have not been formally cast yet, but we imagine already that the Royal Family will be none too pleased with this coming to television in any sort of fictionalized form — even if it is based on source material perceived to be accurate. The first season of Feud is a fantastic bit of television, but we imagined that sooner or later with all of these true-story adaptations something like this would happen.
You can share in the comments below as to whether or not you feel like Olivia de Havilland has some sort of substantial case here. (Photo: FX.)