The legal sparring heated up this week in a showdown between Hollywood Golden Age icon Olivia de Havilland and the cable channel FX. The two-time Oscar-winning actress sued the channel on June 30, one day before her 101st birthday, over her portrayal in the Ryan Murphy miniseries “Feud: Bette and Joan.”
Deadline reports that FX went to court one day after voting wrapped for this year’s Emmys, filing a motion to get de Havilland’s claim thrown out. The move brought a stern response from de Havilland’s lawyer.
The report quotes Suzelle Smith, who is representing de Havilland, saying: “Defendants’ motion has strengthened Miss de Havilland’s resolve to stand up to big Hollywood and fight for her rights, and the rights of all others in such circumstances.”
Smith added: “If Defendants’ view of the law were to prevail, then the California statute giving a celebrity the exclusive right to control and profit from her name and identity, and protect her reputation, would be meaningless.” The attorney also described FX’s motion as “weak” and throwing “mud on a great lady.”
As we reported previously, de Havilland, who was portrayed in “Feud” by Catherine Zeta-Jones, went to court alleging that the production used her name and identity without permission, and that she was inaccurately portrayed as a gossip, contrary to her behavior and reputation.
The actress, who now lives in Paris, is a five-time Academy Award nominee, and won Oscars for her lead performances in “To Each His Own,” released in 1946, and 1950’s “The Heiress.” She was also nominated for “Gone With the Wind,” “Hold Back the Dawn” and “The Snake Pit.”