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Feud in the Media

Prior to the first season debut on March 5, FX has announced a season two pickup of Feud, to focus on Charles and Diana.

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As in, Diana and Charles, Princess and Prince of Wales. They were married on July 29, 1981 — the ceremony was watched by an estimated 750 million people worldwide — before separating in 1992 and divorcing in 1996.

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The review in my newspaper said Feud is ultimately kind of depressing. I can see that.

I watched "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane" last night; that line at the end of "you mean, all this time, we could have been friends?" has got to show up in Feud, I expect. 

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Big article in today's paper about Jessica Lange and Feud. I didn't realize Jessica had so many awards -- two Oscars, a Tony, etc. I am irked that the article contained spoilers for the next episode, however. Apparently, whoever wrote it isn't actually watching the show, and simply used information supplied to them.

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It's an IMDB pick for March: "We want to watch "Feud: Bette and Joan" in a bar while surrounded by friends and drag queens. See which other movies and TV shows we're excited about this month."

Actually, a martini while watching might be apropos.

Edited by ennui.
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I find it very telling and completely in keeping with the themes this series explores that "Big Little Lies" (a series about the inner lives of much younger women than JC, BD, SS or JL) is commanding the lion's share of think pieces in the press. I feel like if "Feud" had aired at a time when "Big Little Lies" wasn't sucking up all the oxygen then it would be getting more coverage than it is. 

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Oh, she knows exactly what happened. She just isn't talking. I love her, she is a classy lady. I do believe that she had a spectacular feud with her sister, of which she will talk nothing about. Of course Joan Fontaine is dead now, so it's easy to say it never happened or it was all in her sister's mind never her.

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The Ladies of Feud at Lincoln Center for a viewing of the last episode.

Shocked that Sarandon actually wore a shirt under her pantsuit this time. Maybe she's learning how to cover up the girls after all?  Although, CZJ has apparently been inspired by Sarandon's previous look....

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On 4/19/2017 at 8:45 AM, Arynm said:

Oh, she knows exactly what happened. She just isn't talking. 

Maybe she doesn't remember. Olivia said she doesn't remember the 1963 Oscars at all because it was so long ago.

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1 hour ago, ennui said:

Olivia said she doesn't remember the 1963 Oscars at all because it was so long ago.

She is 100.  I'm only 54 and I can't remember what I had for breakfast.

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I personally find it easier to remember things from the distant past far better than more recent events. From my older relatives they say the same thing. YMMV of course.

I never remember my breakfast either, but ask me about elementary school and I have all kinds of fun stories.

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Some behind the scenes videos from FX!

Stars aligned:


The directors:


Susan Sarandon as Bette Davis:


Jessica Lange as Joan Crawford:

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Olivia De Havilland is not happy.
 

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One day before her 101st birthday, Hollywood icon Olivia de Havilland today hit Ryan Murphy and FX with multi-claim lawsuit over the depiction of her in Feud: Bette and Joan.

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“Olivia De Havilland did not give her permission for FX Defendants to use her name, identity, or likeness in Feud or any of the promotional materials used by the FX Defendants to advertise themselves, their products and services,” states the infringement of right of publicity, invasion of privacy and unjust enrichment complaint filed Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court. FX Defendants knew that they did not obtain Olivia De Havilland’s permission to use her name, identity, or likeness in their documentary or the advertisements of their products and services,’ the 33-page filing on the Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange starrer adds (read it here).

 

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Really, show? You didn't get her permission?

One living person in the whole fucking show and you can't send her an email?

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I think when you're famous, you don't need permission.  When you're not in the public eye, that's another story.

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I think when you're famous, you don't need permission.  When you're not in the public eye, that's another story.

For this kind of thing, they probably do need her to sign off on using her image and likeness.  Even if she's famous, she still retains those rights, particularly when it comes to commercial projects.  It's just like they can use her likeness to endorse a product without her consent. 

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The woman has earned the respect of her peers.  Ryan just took a giant step backward in his attempt to earn the respect of his peers.  This could set some interesting precedents for the people we expect are in his Season 2: Charles and Diana.  

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I wonder what took her so long? I am amazed that they didn't get her permission or at the very least her blessing. I don't know all the rules on something like this, but it seems like you would need permission for any likeness that is portrayed onscreen. I love that Olivia is still feisty enough at 101 to be pissed about this. I would love to hear the stories she has. Too bad she is so classy and we will never hear them

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1 hour ago, Arynm said:

I wonder what took her so long? I am amazed that they didn't get her permission or at the very least her blessing. I don't know all the rules on something like this, but it seems like you would need permission for any likeness that is portrayed onscreen.

You absolutely do not need permission just to portray a famous person on screen. Otherwise, every celebrity impressionist would be out of work and half the sketches on SNL would be unairable.

As to whether the show should've gotten her blessing as a courtesy, that's a tough call. If you ask for permission, even just to be thoughtful, you run the risk of a) forcing the person to make an affirmative judgment call when they might otherwise just have taken the project as a fait accompli, and b) implying that you think you need permission even if you don't. Both of which potentially open you up to greater legal liability. I can understand why Murphy and FX might have decided that given how respectful and positive the portrayal was, the risk of a lawsuit was low, and thus reaching out to De Haviland would have a bigger downside than upside.

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Even though the portrayal was mostly respectful -- although the one scene of "I don't play bitches, you should ask my sister" might have been a little offensive, considering that she and Joan never made up before she died -- they probably still should have asked, just as a common courtesy.

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Did they ever use her actual likeness though, or was it always just Catherine Zeta Jones?  That's the only way I can see this case as having any merit.

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Did they ever use her actual likeness though, or was it always just Catherine Zeta Jones?  That's the only way I can see this case as having any merit.

They don't have to use her actual likeness.  There's a famous case involving Vanna White and an ad that showed a future where a robot was wearing a blonde wig, an evening gown and was turning letters on a Wheel of Fortune-style set.  White sued, and the 9th Circuit found that she could have an actionable claim in that consumers could conceivably believe that White was endorsing the product given how closely associated she was with the particular set up of the ad (i.e. a blonde female who dressed in a similar manner and turned letters on Wheel of Fortune).

Now with this case, I think the real issue is going to be less that they had an actress playing Olivia, and more that the audience might take away from the series that Olivia acted, said things or felt in a certain way about this situation that didn't happen, and somehow that has damaged her reputation. 

Edited by txhorns79.
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IIRC they used real film clips of Miss de Havilland and Miss Davis fairly often.  Some from movies and others from news tapes of the time. 

That's about as close to an Actual Likeness as you can get.

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9 hours ago, txhorns79 said:

They don't have to use her actual likeness.  There's a famous case involving Vanna White and an ad that showed a future where a robot was wearing a blonde wig, an evening gown and was turning letters on a Wheel of Fortune-style set.  White sued, and the 9th Circuit found that she could have an actionable claim in that consumers could conceivably believe that White was endorsing the product given how closely associated she was with the particular set up of the ad (i.e. a blonde female who dressed in a similar manner and turned letters on Wheel of Fortune).

Yeah, the rules are much stricter when you're appropriating someone's image for purely commercial purposes. The basic principle is that the law has a broad ability to regulate commerce but is generally prohibited from dictating the specific content of artistic expression. So a celebrity can certainly object to being used in advertisements against her will, but she can't prevent writers, actors, comedians, scholars, etc. from offering their own commentary on her public life, unless that commentary is actually defamatory. In fact, it would actually be hugely detrimental to our civil liberties if a famous person could use the threat of lawsuits to ensure that only authorized stories of his life ever got told.

Now, there's certainly some overlap between commercial use and artistic use. If you create a work and then advertise it, does the content you reference in the advertising thereby become commercial in nature? That seems to be one of the things de Havilland's lawsuit is arguing -- that Feud's use of her image is inherently commercial, and thus it does not enjoy protection as an artistic work. But that strikes me as a very dangerous standard, to assume that a work is purely commercial just because it's sold and advertised. How can the law protect artists' right to comment on someone's life if it prohibits them from making a living from said commentary? The fact that there's some overlap with commerce can't mean that artistic protections entirely cease to exist.

6 hours ago, enoughcats said:

IIRC they used real film clips of Miss de Havilland and Miss Davis fairly often.  Some from movies and others from news tapes of the time. 

That's about as close to an Actual Likeness as you can get.

I don't recall them using any real film clips. And if they did, they would've had to follow very clearly defined procedures for clearing that footage with the rightholders. And looking through de Havilland's suit, I don't see any indication that she's claiming actual footage was improperly incorporated.

Edited by Dev F.
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I really think that at 101 Olivia doesn't give a flying fuck about the "merits" of the case.

 

They used her as a mouthpiece for a fictitious interview and had her "character" bitch and gossip openly about other performers, including her sister Joan.

 

She's pissed.

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On ‎7‎/‎2‎/‎2017 at 3:15 AM, caracas1914 said:

I really think that at 101 Olivia doesn't give a flying fuck about the "merits" of the case.

 

They used her as a mouthpiece for a fictitious interview and had her "character" bitch and gossip openly about other performers, including her sister Joan.

 

She's pissed.

Regardless of the merits of the lawsuit, I'm glad she spoke out.  As I share a birthday with Ms. de Havilland (though several decades younger), I check out what she's up to on July 1 each year.  I was tickled to see her setting the record straight here.

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Damn! I wanted to check this out after reading about this suit, but of course it's not even available on Demand!😒

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On 2017-07-01 at 0:23 AM, Dev F said:

You absolutely do not need permission just to portray a famous person on screen. Otherwise, every celebrity impressionist would be out of work and half the sketches on SNL would be unairable.

There have been numerous movies and TV shows depicting news events or recent history, involving people still alive at the time of filming, that never asked anyone's permission to depict them on screen, with courts not recognizing the persons in question as having a legal leg to stand on to object, because of the liberty afforded to studios by the principles of artistic license and freedom of expression. As you also say it is risky to ask permission or even an opinion. It could be seen of as an implicit admission that they have a right of veto over the script and the shoot; what do you do if they say no? Unless the prpduction is made into a full-fledged collaboration with them, though a formal a detailed agreement as happens on some projects.

Legally, when you decide to be in the public eye, as a performer or a politician for example, you give up some of the control over your public persona and how it is represented using actors; you keep more control over your actual image. There may a valid legal argument if the depiction is scurrilous and is made with some malicious intent to denigrate your character. Which I do not think was the case in Feud. This suit does not appear as meritorious as her famous (and successful) lawsuit against Warner and the studio system in the 40s.

OdH appears to be miffed, but being miffed does not make a case with merits. She may not intend to win anyway. She might be intending to tarnish the image of Feud in the industry, so that as the story of the suit gets regular updates and further life in the media, Emmy voters will keep it in mind come nominations time. A form of sweet revenge. Or perhaps they will arrive at a settlement, for example where RM and his company would pay a sum to a charity of her choice without admitting to any guilt, both parties saving face. Or the suit will be dismissed after requiring much work and effort by those involved.

The wording of the disclaimer used on Feud might become a factor, especially if it mentions liberties that may have been taken with some facts, like composite characters or conflating events and dialogue (I have no recordings of the show so I cannot refer to that text).

It may turn out that the only beneficiaries of this spat will be the lawyers on both sides; OdH can certainly afford their fees, but maybe she could have taken the high road through a statement simply dismissing this series as fictional and not worthy of further attention.

 

ETA: Now that I have checked the Emmy 2017 calendar, I see that voting for choosing nominees closed in June before her announcement. OdH's suit could still cast a shadow on the final round of voting (14-28 August) should Feud receive any nominations.

Edited by Florinaldo.
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16 minutes ago, sugarbaker design said:

Emmy nominations:

Lead:  Lange, Sarandon

Supporting:  Hoffman, Davis

Supporting:  Molina, Tucci

Also, the show itself was nominated for Limited Series or Movie

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Full list of Emmy nominations:

Limited Series

Limited Series Actress - Jessica Lange

Limited Series Actress - Susan Sarandon

Limited Series Supporting Actor - Alfred Molina

Limited Series Supporting Actor - Stanley Tucci

Limited Series Supporting Actress - Judy Davis

Limited Series Supporting Actress - Jackie Hoffman

Writing for a Limited Series, Movie or Drama - Ryan Murphy (“And The Winner Is... (The Oscars Of 1963)”)

Writing for a Limited Series, Movie or Drama - Jaffe Cohen, Michael, Michael Zam & Ryan Murphy (“Pilot”)

Directing for a Limited Series, Movie or Drama - Ryan Murphy (“And The Winner Is… (The Oscars Of 1963)”)

Production Design for a Narrative Period Program (One Hour or More) - Judy Becker, Jamie McCall & Florencia Martin

Casting for a Limited Series, Movie or Special  - Robert J. Ulrich & Eric Dawson

Period/ Fantasy Costumes for a Series, Limited Series, or Movie - Lou Eyrich, Hannah Jacobs & Kate Saunders

Hairstyling for a Limited Series or Movie - Chris Clark, Ralph Michael Abalos, Wendy Southard & Helena Cepeda

OUTSTANDING MAIN TITLE DESIGN

OUTSTANDING MAKEUP FOR A LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE (NON-PROSTHETIC)

OUTSTANDING MUSIC COMPOSITION FOR A LIMITED SERIES, MOVIE OR SPECIAL (ORIGINAL DRAMATIC SCORE)

OUTSTANDING ORIGINAL MAIN TITLE THEME MUSIC

Edited by ElectricBoogaloo.
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Reese Witherspoon (Big Little Lies), Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid's Tale), Nicole Kidman (Big Little Lies), Jessica Lange (Feud: Bette and Joan), Oprah Winfrey (The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks), and Chrissy Metz (This Is Us) at The Hollywood Reporter's drama actress round table:

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Excellent podcast interview with Ryan Murphy about his career. He talks about Feud in the last 15 minutes, including Olivia de Havilland's lawsuit, how saddened he was by it because he's such a huge fan and did the show from a place of love, and how most of the public doesn't realize the extensive vetting productions go through for historically based dramatizations. Fox's 15 lawyers have told him she has no claim.

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Emmy wins for Feud: Bette and Joan!

Outstanding Hairstyling for a Limited Series or Movie
Outstanding Make-up for a Limited Series or Movie (Non-Prosthetic)

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