Olivia de Havilland
As producer Ryan Murphy was getting over the disappointment of his miniseries “Feud: Bette and Joan” winning only two Emmys (for hair and makeup) out of 18 nominations, his thoughts must have turned to the lawsuit filed by two-time Oscar-winning actress, Olivia de Havilland.
The Bette Davis/Joan Crawford feud allegedly began in 1945, when Crawford was dropped from her MGM contract after 25 years, and was able to talk Warner Brothers studio head Jack Warner into letting her be “Mildred Pierce” (1945). Her first film of a four-picture deal for Warners was the non-paying benefit film “Hollywood Canteen” (Bette Davis’ pet project). Davis considered “Mildred Pierce” the one that got away,” and she felt Crawford stole it from her, along with the Oscar she would have won for it.
Only one actress depicted in “Feud: Bette and Joan” is alive today (Crawford died in 1977 at 71, and Davis died in 1989 at 81). To add narrative to the eight-part mini-series, producers used Oscar-winners Catherine Zeta-Jones as Olivia de Havilland and Kathy Bates as Joan Blondell (who died in 1979 at 73). They never expected de Havilland, at 101 years old and living in France, to file a lawsuit.
“The series made me look like a gossip who exploited others for her own gain, and despite being the only living person portrayed in the show, I wasn’t consulted,” de Havilland said. We checked the book “Bette & Joan: The Divine Feud,” by Shaun Considine, published in 1989, for which he had interviewed both Davis and Crawford, and couldn’t find any quotes attributed to de Havilland as depicted.
Because of her advanced age, Olivia has asked the court for and been granted a speedy trial. On Nov. 27, “Feud’s” lawyers will have to produce evidence proving De Havilland actually said the things she claims have defamed her. She’s so adamant about this case she’ll probably travel from France to testify.
*** What happened to Simon Baker, star of “The Mentalist” (2008-2015)? He returned to his native Australia when the show ended, took time off and began preparing to direct himself in the upcoming ‘70s surfing drama “Breath,” which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival to good reviews.
Universal Pictures was disappointed in Tom Cruise’s recent “Mummy” film, which cost $195 million to make and grossed $408 million (a little better than break even in Hollywood terms), especially since his newest release, “American Made,” grossed $34 million of its $80 million cost before even opening in the U.S. Universal was hoping his star power would kick off its slate of horror remakes, including its next, “The Bride of Frankenstein,” and more Cruise “Mummy” films. Tom loved his “Mummy,” but he loves being “American Made” more, and so do most moviegoers!