Olivia de Havilland Sues ‘Feud’ Makers for Invasion of Privacy

LOS ANGELES (CN) – Two-time Oscar winner Dame Olivia de Havilland sued the FX cable channel and show runner Ryan Murphy’s production company Friday, claiming that their mini-series “Feud: Bette and Joan” invades her privacy and falsely depicts her as a “petty gossip.”

Actress Catherine Zeta-Jones portrays de Havilland in the pseudo-documentary series, which is about the rivalry between Joan Crawford and Bette Davis while working on “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?” in the early 1960s. De Havilland, who lives in France, takes issue with the show’s re-enactment of a purported interview at the 1963 Academy Awards in which she is shown gossiping about the relationship between Davis and Crawford.

“There was never a rivalry like theirs. For nearly a half a century, they hated each other, and we loved them for it,” Zeta-Jones’ de Havilland says in the show.

But the real-life de Havilland says that such an interview never took place.

The 100-year-old actress, who played Melanie Hamilton in the iconic “Gone With the Wind,” is also irked with the show’s depiction of her calling her sister Joan Fontaine a “bitch” and commenting at the 1963 Academy Awards that Frank Sinatra had drunk all the alcohol in the backstage lounge.

At other times the show depicts her as a “petty gossip” she adds, calling the Oscars interview “fake” and “completely false.”

“FX defendants’ portrayal of Olivia de Havilland in ‘Feud’ creates the public impression that she was a hypocrite, selling gossip in order to promote herself at the Academy Awards. This did not happen and was false. There is no public interest to be protected by putting false statements into the mouth of a living person, using their name and identity for a false and unauthorized purpose, damaging their reputation. The First Amendment does not protect the false, damaging, unauthorized use of the name and identity of a real, living celebrity merely because the perpetrators cloak the work in the title of pure fiction, much less a pseudo-documentary film,” the lawsuit states.

De Havilland says that FX and Murphy cannot use free speech protections under the First Amendment to defeat her lawsuit.

“FX defendants misappropriated Olivia de Havilland’s name, likeness and identity without her permission and used them falsely in order to exploit their own commercial interests,” the complaint states.

De Havilland seeks damages, fees, and costs. She is represented by Suzelle Smith of Howarth & Smith in Los Angeles.

The actress will turn 101 on Saturday.

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