DE HAVILLAND APPEALS TO U.S. SUPREME COURT
Steven T. Lowe
Olivia de Havilland is now asking the U.S. Supreme Court to revive her lawsuit against FX docudrama “Feud: Bette and Joan” (see, Lowe & Associates’ April 18, 2018 article “California Appeals Court Shuts Down de Havilland Case) after the California Supreme Court refused to hear her case.
In a petition for certiorari de Havilland filed with the United States Supreme Court on October 5, 2018, she warned that the previous ruling against her would “threatened to create an absolute First Amendment immunity for docudramas,” even if they publicize “known falsehoods.” De Havilland added, “The First Amendment does not protect knowing or reckless publication of a falsehood, even if such falsehoods are artfully constructed and entertaining…This basic principle of First Amendment jurisprudence is currently under attack from powerful media forces because sensationalist lies are more popular, and hence more profitable, than reality, which is often relatively dull.”
De Havilland, now 102 years old, sued FX last year over their docudrama, “Feud”, which depicted a famous rivalry between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, and accused them of violating her right of publicity by including her in the story and casting her in a “false light.” De Havilland also alleged the show created “a public impression that she was a hypocrite, selling gossip in order to promote herself at the Academy Awards, criticizing fellow actors, using vulgarity and cheap language with others.”
The case has been publicized for numerous reasons, including a September 2017 ruling where a state judge refused to dismiss the case via an “Anti-SLAPP” motion; but then in March 2018, a state appellate court overturned the ruling, rejecting the trial court’s decision and ruling the First Amendment gives authors broad flexibility to use real people in their creations, both in purely factual and fictionalized works.
De Havilland is represented by Suzelle M. Smith and Don Howarth of Howarth & Smith.
FX and Pacific 2.1 Entertainment are represented by Glenn D. Pomerantz and Kelly Klaus of Munger Tolles & Olson LLP.
The case is Olivia de Havilland v. FX Networks LLC et al., case number S248614, in the Supreme Court of California.
* Lowe & Associates (“The Firm”) is a boutique entertainment and business litigation firm located in Beverly Hills, California. The Firm has extensive experience handling cases involving entertainment law, having provided top quality legal services to its clients since 1991. The Firm is recognized in multiple publications for its many achievements and high ethical standards, including Martindale-Hubbell and Super Lawyers.
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