The trial of Olivia de Havilland’s lawsuit against FX Networks over her portrayal in “Feud: Bette and Joan” will take place on Nov. 27, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge ruled Wednesday.
Judge Holly Kendig granted a motion by attorneys for the actress, who said their client was entitled to an expedited trial due to her age.
“I can’t imagine how you could not do that when the plaintiff is 101 years old,” Kendig said.
Attorneys for the defendants had asked for a trial in January in order to have more time to prepare. But Kendig said the case was not complex and that jurors may pay less attention if they are required to serve around the time of the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.
De Havilland’s attorney, Suzelle Smith, said after the hearing that her client “has a lot invested in the case” and may appear during trial.
“She is very mobile and very alert,” Smith said of the actress, who has lived in France for decades.
De Havilland’s daughter, 61-year-old Gisele Galante Chulack, attended the hearing with her husband, Andy.
Defense attorneys have filed a motion to dismiss de Havilland’s case on free-speech grounds. A hearing is scheduled for Sept. 29.
“Feud” is a story about the relationship between actresses Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. Catherine Zeta-Jones portrays Olivia de Havilland, appearing numerous times in most episodes of the series and in its extensive advertising campaign for FX, according to the suit.
Every other main character whose identity is used in the series is dead, according to her attorneys.
The lawsuit alleges that de Havilland, whose 49 feature film roles included her portrayal of Melanie Hamilton in “Gone with the Wind,” was not asked by FX for permission to use her name and identity and was not compensated for such use.
A two-time Academy Award winner for her lead roles in “To Each His Own” and “The Heiress,” the actress “has built a professional reputation for integrity, honesty, generosity, self-sacrifice and dignity,” according to her complaint. “A key reason for the public’s deep respect for Olivia de Havilland is that in her 80-plus year career, she has steadfastly refused to engage in typical Hollywood gossip about the relationships of other actors.”
–City News Service