At 101, Olivia de Havilland loses Feud lawsuit.

Corporate Hollywood wins over a living legend in a profile lawsuit around Feud.

Hollywood veteran Olivia de Havilland has had her lawsuit against FX Networks rejected by a US court.

The 101 year old star sued over her portrayal in Ryan Murphy miniseries Feud, in which Catherine Zeta-Jones calls her sister, Joan Fontaine, a “bitch.”

Fusing real events with fictionalised elements, the miniseries never sought her permission for the portrayal. Ms. de Havilland, the only surviving principal portrayed in the series, claims she has built a reputation for integrity and dignity. But she took issue with her portrayal, saying she would never use a vulgarity in referring to her sister, though she did once call her a “dragon lady” in an interview.

But the court unanimously held that such portrayals are protected by the First Amendment. It also ruled the depiction of de Havilland was not malicious.

“Whether a person portrayed in one of these expressive works is a world-renowned film star — ‘a living legend’ — or a person no one knows, she or he does not own history,” Justice Anne Egerton wrote. “Nor does she or he have the legal right to control, dictate, approve, disapprove, or veto the creator’s portrayal of actual people.”

“The reversal is a victory for the creative community, and the First Amendment,” producer Ryan Murphy said in a statement. “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.”

De Havilland’s attorney, Suzelle Smith, issued her own statement.

“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.”

Source: Variety

One Response

  1. Revision of historical fact is not uncommon but movies about well known people are usually based on written biographies so it’s a shame that a Hollywood legend who has outlived most of her peers should be demeaned by 21st century modern crassness while she is still very much alive, Olivia de Havilland’s wishes should have been respected.

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