The suit against Los Angeles-based FX Networks LLC and Ryan Murphy Productions seeks unspecified damages and an injunction against any further alleged infringement of her name and likeness.
Catherine Zeta-Jones as actress Olivia de Havilland in FX's "Feud: Bette and Joan".
On the eve of her 101st birthday, two-time Oscar victor Olivia de Havilland has announced she is suing FX and producer Ryan Murphy over the unauthorized use of her identity in "Feud: Bette and Joan", according to a statement released Friday morning.
"A living celebrity has the right to protect her name and identity from unauthorized, false, commercial exploitation under both common law and the specific "right to publicity" statute in California", said Suzelle Smith, de Havilland's attorney, who also asserted that "FX was wrong to ignore Miss de Havilland and proceed without her permission for its own profit". But the real-life de Havilland says she was not approached for permission.
Throughout Feud, the Zeta-Jones played de Havilland appears in a mock documentary from 1978 taking abut the relationship between the adversarial Crawford and Davis.
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In 1943 de Havilland declared that her seven-year deal with Warners had expired but the studio said she still owed them the six months that she spent on suspension.
"In fact, all statement made by Zeta-Jones as Olivia de Havilland in this fake interview are completely false, some inherently so; others false because they were never said".
She also takes issue with Feud's references to her relationship with her sister. "Such an interview never occurred", reads the suit, accusing the production of putting "false words" into de Havilland's mouth.
Her attorney added that de Havilland isn't pursuing this case for her own sake. The lawsuit argues that de Havilland has built a reputation of integrity for herself, and refrains from gossip. The documents point to the opening scene of the series, which depicts an interview with de Havilland where she gossips about Davis and Crawford, noting that FX "promoted and advertised that "Feud" was intentionally created to look as if it was reality".
Screen legend Olivia de Havilland, June 18, 2006, in Los Angeles.