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Sunday 17 December 2017

Olivia de Havilland, 101, feuds with TV bosses who portrayed her as a gossip

Dame Olivia de Havilland has launched a legal action over her depiction in the TV series Feud: Bette And Joan
Dame Olivia de Havilland has launched a legal action over her depiction in the TV series Feud: Bette And Joan

Veteran Hollywood star Dame Olivia de Havilland has launched her own sequel to the TV series Feud - a lawsuit.

The double Oscar-winning actress is suing FX Networks and producer Ryan Murphy's company, claiming the drama inaccurately depicts her as a gossip-monger and is an invasion of privacy.

The action was filed in Los Angeles on Friday - the day before Dame Olivia's 101st birthday.

The actress, who played Melanie Hamilton in Gone With The Wind and was Maid Marian to Errol Flynn's Robin Hood, lives in Paris.

Dame Olivia's lawsuit says Feud: Bette And Joan, about the testy relationship of Hollywood stars Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, used her name and identity without permission or compensation.

FX Networks declined to comment and representatives for Murphy, who co-created the hit series American Horror Story and Glee, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Catherine Zeta-Jones played Dame Olivia in the series, shown earlier this year.

The anthology series' next announced chapter is about the ill-fated marriage of Charles and Diana.

While Dame Olivia is "beloved and respected by her peers" and has a reputation for integrity and honesty, the series depicts her as "a hypocrite, selling gossip in order to promote herself" at the Academy Awards, which is false, the action against FX and Ryan Murphy Productions says.

"She has refused to use what she knew about the private or public lives of other actors (which was a considerable amount) to promote her own press attention and celebrity status" - a valuable aspect of her character - the suit says.

It argues that putting "false statements into a living person's mouth and damaging their reputation is not protected by the First Amendment because the work is cloaked as fiction".

Suzelle Smith, a lawyer for Dame Olivia, said FX was "wrong to ignore Miss de Havilland and proceed without her permission for its own profit".

The actress believes FX's actions raise important principles that affect other celebrities, Ms Smith's statement said.

The suit seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages for emotional distress, damage to her reputation and past and future economic losses, as well as an injunction barring the defendants from using her name or image in the series or otherwise.

Dame Olivia won Oscars for 1946's To Each His Own and The Heiress in 1949 and was nominated for three other films, including Gone With The Wind.

Her later projects included TV's Roots: The Next Generations and North And South, Book II.

The statement from her lawyers, Smith and Don Howarth, said she was "no stranger to controversy with the powerful Hollywood production industry".

In 1943 she sued Warner Bros over her contract and th e "landmark decision" in her legal victory set the outside limit of a studio-player contract at seven years, including suspensions, according to Ephraim Katz's The Film Encyclopedia.


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