Catherine Zeta Jones

(US) Right to publicity, Privacy – Olivia de Havilland, sues FX over Feud: Bette and Joan

101-year-old Hollywood legend and Oscar-winning actress Olivia de Havilland is suing FX over the television show “Feud: Bette and Joan”.

The show recounts the rivalry between actresses Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. Ms de Havilland says it portrays her as a hypocrite, selling gossip to promote herself, which is completely false.

She has filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles for infringement of the right to publicity, invasion of privacy and unjust enrichment. She seeks damages, profits and an injunction. In the lawsuit Ms de Havilland states that: ‘in an 80-plus year career, she has steadfastly refused to engage in typical Hollywood gossip about the relationships of other actors’ and that she ‘has built a professional reputation for integrity, honesty, generosity, self-sacrifice and dignity.’

The lawsuit describes Feud: Bette and Joan as a ‘pseudo-documentary-style television series’. It alleges that FX has promoted the show falsely using Ms de Havilland’s name and identity; and that the show depicts events in such a way that viewers would be expected to believe they were an accurate account of what happened and what was said; whereas, a depicted interview given by Ms de Havilland about Davis and Crawford is fake, and statements made by Ms de Havilland are false. ‘There is no public interest to be protected by putting false statements into the mouth of a living person, damaging their reputation,’ the lawsuit says.

In the show, Ms de Havilland is played by Catherine Zeta-Jones. She is the only person depicted in the series who is still alive, and says she was not consulted before the show aired.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter in April, the show’s producer Ryan Murphy said: “I didn’t write Olivia because I didn’t want to be disrespectful and ask her, ‘Did this happen? Did that happen? What was your take on that?’”

Ms de Havilland has appeared in 49 films including Gone with the Wind and The Adventures of Robin Hood. She was made a Dame in the June 2017 honours list and has received the Legion d’Honneur in France where she lives. Feud: Bette and Joan has aired in the US and is expected to air in the UK this autumn. zoom-in will continue to report on this case as it continues.