Olivia de Havilland’s lawsuit against Ryan Murphy and FX for Catherine Zeta-Jones’ portrayal of the iconic actress in “Feud: Bette and Joan” has been dismissed by the California Court of Appeals 2nd Appellate District.
According to Deadline, the lawsuit claimed the character hurt her “professional reputation for integrity, honesty, generosity, self-sacrifice and dignity.”
The court disagreed and said Zeta-Jones’ portrayal “is not highly offensive to a reasonable person as a matter of law.”
The Motion Picture Association of America released a statement commending the court’s decision.
“The MPAA is proud to have joined with our colleagues at Netflix to submit an amicus brief to the Court of Appeal, warning that upholding the Superior Court’s decision would cause both artistic freedom and public discourse to suffer,” MPAA chairman/CEO Charles Rivkin said in a statement. “The Court of Appeal’s opinion will safeguard the right of filmmakers to tell stories that entertain, inspire, and inform audiences around the world.”
In “Feud: Bette and Joan,” Zeta-Jones, as De Havilland, is recruited to replace Joan Crawford in the 1964 film “Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte.” In one scene while discussing the role, De Havilland says she has no interest in playing “bitches” and suggests “Maybe you should call my sister.” The comment is a reference to De Havilland’s sibling rivalry with fellow actress Joan Fontaine.
Murphy, who is known for his fictitious retellings of historic events, also released a statement calling the lawsuit dismissal “a victory for the creative community.”
“The reversal is a victory for the creative community, and the First Amendment,” Murphy said. “Today’s victory gives all creators the breathing room necessary to continue to tell important historical stories inspired by true events. Most of all, it’s a great day for artistic expression and a reminder of how precious our freedom remains.”
De Havilland’s attorney Suzelle Smith doesn’t appear to be giving up the fight.
“This case appears to be destined for a higher court, and we will be preparing the appropriate petition for such review,” Smith said in a statement.