At the premiere of new mini-series “Feud: Bette and Joan,” co-creator Ryan Murphy and stars Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange talk about the enduring themes the show tackles. (March 2)
Actress Olivia de Havilland and FX Networks are still feuding over Catherine Zeta-Jones’ portrayal of her in this spring’s miniseries about the off-camera drama on the set of the 1962 film What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?
In June, the 101-year-old actress sued the cable network for not consulting her before making her likeness part of the series and implying that she was a gossip monger.
Three months later, FX is trying to get the lawsuit tossed and she’s not having it. On Friday, she filed documents opposing the motion in which numerous Hollywood veterans argue the network eschewed standard production protocols by not obtaining her consent.
“It is not industry practice to use a celebrity’s name and identity in a commercial production without permission,” wrote Cort Casady, producer of numerous AFI tribute specials and the annual Kennedy Center Honors in a sworn declaration. “It is certainly beneath industry standards – in fact, it is production malpractice – to attribute false statements and inaccurate endorsements to a person portrayed in a production without their permission.”
Fellow producer and former MGM executive David Ladd concurred, writing, “Obtaining consent of a well-known person for use of their name, identity, character or image, is a serious matter on the standard pre-production checklist for a film. Failure to obtain proper consent would be out of the ordinary.”
Catherine Zeta-Jones, left, played Olivia de Havilland, alongside Susan Sarandon’s Bette Davis in ‘Feud.’ (Photo: uzanne Tenner, FX Networks.)
Mark Roesler, whose company, Celebrity Valuations provides legal consultation services, estimates de Havilland is owed between $1.4 to 2.1 million” as a result of FX’s “failure to obtain consent and negotiate a fair-market value payment for use of Miss de Havilland’s name and identity as well as the false use.”
Suzelle M. Smith, an attorney for de Havilland, asked why producers sought the cooperation of Joan Crawford’s family but not her client.
“Why in the world would FX obtain the backing and apparently compensate (Crawford’s family) for use of his deceased grandmother’s identity, and consciously ignore the rights of the very much alive Olivia de Havilland to protect her reputation from distortion?” she wrote.
A request for comment from FX was not immediately returned Friday.
A Los Angeles Superior Court judge will hear arguments on the motion to dismiss on Sept. 29.
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