Ironically, what is presently playing out in the California courts regarding differing opinions relevant to a highly popular television miniseries could ultimately make for a story even more riveting than that Hollywood product itself.
The gloves are clearly off, as evidenced by a lawsuit followed by the plaintiff's amended complaint, the respondent's motion to strike, an impending opposition to that motion and a late-September court hearing.
The subject matter: the show "Feud" created by Ryan Murphy, which has been a huge hit on the FX network.
Famed actress Olivia de Havilland (think Gone with the Wind and multiple Academy Awards) believes that her portrayal in the miniseries -- which chronicles the lives and acrimonious interactions of actresses Joan Crawford and Bette Davis -- violates laws protecting personal privacy and publicity rights. She additionally alleges that the network, Ryan and additional parties have been unjustly enriched through the unauthorized use of her name and character.
The defendants counter that De Havilland's claims lack merit and that, as a public person, she is held to a comparatively high proof standard for establishing harm and damages.
She "cannot hold the creators of an expressive work liable in tort absent falsity and actual malice, neither of which is present here," the motion against the actress's complaint states.
The defendants additionally argue that their product is an artistic and "transformative" work that, because of public interest, is firmly protected as free speech under the U.S. Constitution and relevant California laws.
De Havilland, who is 101 years old, has petitioned for an expedited process to resolve the matter. A hearing is currently scheduled for September 29.