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Arts and Entertainment

Olivia De Havilland Sues "Feud: Bette And Joan" For Unauthorized Depiction

Olivia de Havilland. (Photo by David Livingston / Getty Images)
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Olivia de Havilland, the 101-year-old iconic Hollywood actress, is suing Ryan Murphy's Feud: Bette and Joan for using her name and identity without permission. She filed the suit in Los Angeles Superior Court Friday, according to the L.A. Times, claiming both that "FX didn’t ask permission to use her name and identity and did not compensate her for the use."

Catherine Zeta-Jones plays de Havilland in the show, serving as commentator on the two main actresses throughout the eight-episode series. De Havilland's attorneys say this is a false representation of their client, explaining how de Havilland spent her career "specifically refusing to engage in gossip mongering about other actors in order to generate media attention for herself." Their statement continues, accusing FX of portraying de Havilland in "a false light to sensationalize the series," according to the L.A. Times.

The suit requests "jury trial, sweeping damages and unplugging the potential Emmy-contending show with an injunction," according to Deadline. FX and Ryan Murphy's team declined requests to comment.

De Havilland's lawyers claim she is the only person portrayed in the show who is still living. Vanity Fair points out that Bette Davis' daughter, portrayed in the show by Kiernan Shipka, is also alive.

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This isn't de Havilland's first experience with entertainment lawsuits; her lawsuit against Warner Bros. in 1943 ushered in the De Havilland Law, which eliminated the studio system's ability to require services from an entertainer seven years after their contract began. At the time, most entertainment lawyers would extend contracts by claiming they only applied to actual days of work; since most entertainers don't have work 365 days of the year, this allowed the studios to keep contracted artists under their control for indefinite periods. De Havilland's lawsuit put a cap on this contractual agreement and created a paradigm shift where creative power moved to the side of the artists rather than the studios.

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