Advertisement

Olivia de Havilland's 'Feud' lawsuit thrown out in appeals court

By
Wade Sheridan
Actress Olivia De Havilland. The Hollywood star's lawsuit against FX's Feud has been thrown out by an appeals court. File Photo by Ian Langsdon/EPA
Actress Olivia De Havilland. The Hollywood star's lawsuit against FX's "Feud" has been thrown out by an appeals court. File Photo by Ian Langsdon/EPA

March 27 (UPI) -- Olivia de Havilland's lawsuit against FX for its series Feud: Bette and Joan, has been tossed out by a three judge panel in appeals court.

De Havilland, 101, sued the network in July stating that Feud's showrunners used her name and image without permission or compensation and negatively and inaccurately portrayed her as a gossip monger. Catherine Zeta-Jones played de Havilland in the series which depicted the battle between actresses Bette Davis (Susan Sarandon) and Joan Crawford (Jessica Lange.)

Advertisement

The appeal court in a unanimous decision on Monday concluded that the Gone With the Wind star does not have "the legal right to control, dictate, approve, disapprove, or veto the creator's portrayal of actual people" and that Zeta-Jones' portrayal "is not highly offensive to a reasonable person as a matter of law," Deadline reported.

FX attempted to have the case tossed out citing First Amendment rights last fall but Judge Holly Kendig denied the motion, Variety reported. The network then appealed with support from The Motion Picture Association of America who said the court's ruling could affect the ability of filmmakers to portray real events with added elements.

Advertisement

Feud creator Ryan Murphy hailed the court's decision in a statement calling it a "victory for the creative community and the First Amendment."

"Today's victory gives all creators the breathing room necessary to continue to tell important historical stories inspired by true events. Most of all, it's a great day for artistic expression and a reminder of how precious our freedom remains," he said.

De Havilland's attorney Suzelle Smith said in a statement that would prepare an appeal. "Miss de Havilland, her many fans all over the world, and actors in similar situations are rightly disappointed in this Opinion," she said. "The Opinion does not properly balance the First Amendment with other important rights. ... The Court of Appeal, unlike the trial Court, has taken on itself the role of both Judge and jury, denying Miss de Havilland her Constitutional rights to have a jury decide her claims to protect the property rights in her name or to defend her reputation against knowing falsehoods."

The second season of Feud due in 2018 titled Charles and Diana, will depict the marriage between Prince Charles and Princess Diana.

Latest Headlines