FEUD: Olivia de Havilland's Lawsuit Against FX Drama Dismissed by Court

Olivia de Havilland

Somewhere, Catherine Zeta-Jones just breathed a sigh of relief: A California appeals court has tossed out the lawsuit brought by actress Olivia de Havilland against the FX drama FEUD: Bette and Joan.

The Oscar winner first filed a legal complaint back in June 2017, stating that the Ryan Murphy series — in which she was played by Zeta-Jones — unfairly portrayed her as a Hollywood gossip, something she claims she tried to avoid during her career. She also objected to her likeness being used in the anthology series without her consent and without proper compensation.

But in a unanimous opinion on Monday, three judges from California’s Second District Court of Appeal ruled that FEUD and Murphy are protected by the First Amendment, and de Havilland has no right to control the show’s depiction of her.

“Whether a person portrayed in one of these expressive works is a world-renowned film star — ‘a living legend’ — or a person no one knows, she or he does not own history,” the panel wrote in its opinion. “Nor does she or he have the legal right to control, dictate, approve, disapprove or veto the creator’s portrayal of actual people.”

Though Murphy called the ruling “a victory for the creative community” and “a great day for artistic expression,” de Havilland’s lawyer Suzelle Smith said in a statement that she plans to petition the court’s decision.

“This is an entirely pro-industry decision, and was clearly written before the hearing less than a week ago,” Smith wrote. “This case appears to be destined for a higher court, and we will be preparing the appropriate petition for such review.”

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