Feud (TV series)
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||8 (list of episodes)|
|Production locations||Los Angeles, California|
|Running time||45–58 minutes|
|Original release||March 5 –|
April 23, 2017
Feud is an American docudrama television miniseries created by Ryan Murphy, Jaffe Cohen, and Michael Zam, and aired on FX from March 5 to April 23, 2017. Initially conceived as an anthology series, its first and only season Bette and Joan, which consists of eight episodes, chronicles the well-documented rivalry between Hollywood actresses Joan Crawford and Bette Davis during and after the production of their psychological horror thriller film What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962). Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon star as Crawford and Davis, respectively. Judy Davis, Jackie Hoffman, Alfred Molina, Stanley Tucci, and Alison Wright feature in supporting roles.
Critically acclaimed, with major praise for Lange and Sarandon's performances, the series garnered several accolades. It received 18 nominations at the 69th Primetime Emmy Awards and won two, including Outstanding Hairstyling and Makeup (Non-Prosthetic). Bette and Joan also received six Critics' Choice Awards, four Golden Globe Awards, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, and three Television Critics Association Awards nominations. In February 2017, FX renewed the series for a 10-episode second season. Originally titled Charles and Diana, referring to Charles, Prince of Wales and Diana, Princess of Wales, it was eventually scrapped.
The series (subtitled Bette and Joan in anticipation of future seasons) centers on the backstage battle between Bette Davis (Susan Sarandon) and Joan Crawford (Jessica Lange) during and after the production of their 1962 film What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?
Cast and characters
- Jessica Lange as Joan Crawford
- Susan Sarandon as Bette Davis
- Judy Davis as Hedda Hopper, gossip columnist
- Jackie Hoffman as Mamacita, Crawford's housekeeper
- Alfred Molina as Robert Aldrich, director/producer of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? and Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte
- Stanley Tucci as Jack L. Warner, head of Warner Bros.
- Alison Wright as Pauline Jameson, Aldrich's assistant
- Catherine Zeta-Jones as Olivia de Havilland, Davis's friend and fellow actress who costars with her in Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte and participates in a 1970s documentary on Crawford
- Kathy Bates as Joan Blondell, Davis's friend and fellow actress who participates in a 1970s documentary on Crawford
- Kiernan Shipka as B. D. Merrill, Davis's daughter
- Dominic Burgess as Victor Buono, an actor who costars in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? and Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte
- Reed Diamond as Peter, Joan's latest paramour
- Joel Kelley Dauten as Adam Freedman, a documentary filmmaker
- Molly Price as Harriet Foster Aldrich, Robert Aldrich's wife
- Ken Lerner as Marty, Crawford's agent
Feud features appearances by a number of actors, directors and other historical figures of the period, including:
- Alisha Soper as Marilyn Monroe, winner of the Best Actress Golden Globe in 1960 for Some Like It Hot
- Mark Valley as Gary Merrill, a fading actor and Bette Davis's estranged fourth husband
- Jake Robards as Patrick O'Neal, Bette's costar in the Broadway production of The Night of the Iguana
- Lizz Carter as Margaret Leighton, Bette's costar in the Broadway production of The Night of the Iguana
- Kris Black as Cliff Robertson, Joan's costar in Autumn Leaves
- Jon Morgan Woodward as Alfred Steele, the CEO of the Pepsi-Cola Company and Joan Crawford's fourth husband
- Tom Berklund as Fred MacMurray, Joan's costar in Above Suspicion
- Kerry Stein as Louis B. Mayer, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studio head
- Scott Vance as Michael Curtiz, director of Mildred Pierce who gave Crawford her Best Actress Oscar in 1945
- Toby Huss as Frank Sinatra, singer and actor who stars in Aldrich's film 4 for Texas
- Cameron Cowperthwaite as Michael Parks, Bette's costar in an episode of Perry Mason
- Daniel Hagen as Michael Luciano, film editor of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?
- Taylor Coffman as Lee Remick, Davis's co-nominee for Best Actress in 1963
- Sarah Paulson as Geraldine Page, Davis's co-nominee for Best Actress in 1963
- Cash Black as Rip Torn, Geraldine Page's husband
- Raymond J. Barry as Hal LeSueur, Joan Crawford's brother
- Serinda Swan as Anne Bancroft, winner of the Best Actress Oscar in 1963 for The Miracle Worker
- Paris Verra as Patty Duke, winner of the Best Supporting Actress Oscar in 1963, who appeared with Bancroft in The Miracle Worker
- Phillip Boyd as Maximilian Schell, winner of the Best Actor Oscar in 1962 for Judgment at Nuremberg
- Anthony Crivello as David Lean, winner of the Best Director Oscar in 1963 for Lawrence of Arabia
- Bryant Boon as Gregory Peck, winner of the Best Actor Oscar in 1963 for To Kill a Mockingbird
- Louis B. Jack as Ed Begley, winner of the Best Supporting Actor Oscar in 1963 for Sweet Bird of Youth
- Anthony Tyler Quinn as Wendell Corey, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences from 1961 to 1963
- Eric Callero as Jack Lord, actor who attended the 35th Academy Awards
- Lindsay Hanzl as Eva Marie Saint, actress who attended the 35th Academy Awards
- Greg Winter as Robert Stack, actor who attended the 35th Academy Awards
- John Rubinstein as George Cukor, a film director and longtime friend of Crawford
- John Waters as William Castle, the director and producer of Crawford's 1964 horror B movie Strait-Jacket
- Earlene Davis as Agnes Moorehead, an actress who costars in Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte
- Matthew Glave as Joseph Cotten, an actor who costars in Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte
- James Hawthorn as Bruce Dern, actor who appears in Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte
- Melissa Russell as Diane Baker, Joan's costar in Strait-Jacket
Season 1: Bette and Joan (2017)
|No.||Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date||Prod.|
|1||"Pilot"||Ryan Murphy||Jaffe Cohen & Michael Zam and Ryan Murphy||March 5, 2017||1WBB01||2.26|
|In 1978, filmmaker Adam Friedman interviews Olivia de Havilland and Joan Blondell for a documentary about the complex relationship between Joan Crawford and Bette Davis. Seventeen years earlier, with her career gradually waning, Joan pitches a film adaptation of the horror novel What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? to Bette and director Robert Aldrich. Aldrich, in turn, brings Baby Jane to Jack L. Warner, who comes on board despite his hatred for both women. But as filming begins, Joan's acute narcissism and Bette's strong opinions quickly put them at odds.|
|2||"The Other Woman"||Ryan Murphy||Jaffe Cohen & Michael Zam and Tim Minear||March 12, 2017||1WBB02||1.32|
|Bette and Joan act on their shared interest to eliminate a showy supporting actress, but their problems at home spill over at work. Jack forces Aldrich to create a power play between the two actresses for hype.|
|3||"Mommie Dearest"||Gwyneth Horder-Payton||Tim Minear||March 19, 2017||1WBB03||1.08|
|Bette and Joan learn some intimate details about each other, but their animosity climaxes on set as filming winds down.|
|4||"More, or Less"||Liza Johnson||Gina Welch & Tim Minear||March 26, 2017||1WBB04||1.21|
|Contrary to all expectations, Baby Jane is a huge hit. With no other film offers, Joan's jealousy grows as Bette's performance is critically acclaimed. She fears that she will not get an Oscar nomination, but that Bette will. Meanwhile, Pauline hopes to direct her own film but is discouraged by the lack of support from Aldrich and Joan.|
|5||"And the Winner Is... (The Oscars of 1963)"||Ryan Murphy||Ryan Murphy||April 2, 2017||1WBB05||1.36|
|Bette is on track to win a record-breaking third Best Actress Oscar. Joan and Hedda Hopper launch a clandestine campaign against her. Joan bullies nominee Geraldine Page to skip the ceremony and allow Joan to accept the award on her behalf if she wins; Anne Bancroft, unable to attend, also allows Joan to accept her award. Offering herself as a presenter, Joan arrives at the 1963 Academy Awards ceremony dressed like a "silver Oscar." With a shocked Olivia de Havilland and crushed Bette watching, Joan accepts the Oscar for Bancroft.|
|6||"Hagsploitation"||Tim Minear||Tim Minear & Gina Welch||April 9, 2017||1WBB06||1.06|
|As Joan promotes her new film, Strait-Jacket, Jack enlists Aldrich to write and direct a new film in the successful "Hagsploitation" genre. Aldrich ultimately takes his script, called Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte, to Darryl F. Zanuck to produce, angering Jack. Aldrich lures Joan in return for top billing, and Bette in return for creative control. Bette becomes increasingly unreasonable, and Joan's suspicions about Bette's influence over Aldrich are confirmed when Joan hears Bette having champagne with him.|
|7||"Abandoned!"||Helen Hunt||Jaffe Cohen & Michael Zam||April 16, 2017||1WBB07||1.31|
|With Robert's divorce pending, he and Bette have an affair. On location filming Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte, Joan feels disrespected by the production (especially after being left behind when the production wrapped in Baton Rouge) and comes to resent Bette's creative input as a producer. On the other hand, Bette is relishing her new role as a producer but is haunted by Jack Warner's mistreatment when she first started in Hollywood. When filming returns to Los Angeles, Joan fakes an illness to stall production in hopes that 20th Century Fox will cancel the film. She eventually learns that the studio is suing her for breach of contract and, while in the hospital, learns via radio announcement that Olivia has replaced her. Hysterical, Joan destroys her hospital room, and Mamacita leaves her.|
|8||"You Mean All This Time We Could Have Been Friends?"||Gwyneth Horder-Payton||Gina Welch||April 23, 2017||1WBB08||1.30|
|Following the critical failure of her latest film, Trog, and bad publicity photos, Joan officially retires from acting. In the following years, she moves to New York City. Realizing how miserable she is alone, she makes amends with Mamacita and her daughter, Cathy. One night, Joan hallucinates Jack and Hedda having a party in her apartment, where she joins them and is later joined by Bette. In the fantasy, Joan and Bette end their feud and speak civilly toward each other about one another. In mid-1977, Joan's health deteriorates rapidly, and she dies with Mamacita at her side. Meanwhile, Bette, who has worked consistently since Sweet Charlotte, learns of Joan's death via a journalist who asks for comment. Bette responds with one final negative comment towards Joan. At the 1978 Academy Awards, Adam finishes his interviews for his documentary, with Bette refusing to be a part. Bette, Olivia, and others express sadness at Joan's brief appearance in the In Memoriam segment, while simultaneously being horrified by the brevity of the moment. A flashback to the first day of filming Baby Jane shows Bette and Joan chatting happily before going into their separate trailers.|
Ryan Murphy, a fan of Davis since his childhood, interviewed the actress just months before her death in 1989. The agreed-upon 20-minute interview lasted four hours, and inspired his characterization of Davis in Feud. He said, "When I would ask her about Joan Crawford ... She would just go on about how much she hated her. But then she would sort of say ... 'She was a professional. And I admired that'." Murphy first conceived Bette and Joan as a film years before the FX series, and approached both Sarandon and Lange about the lead roles. Sarandon said, "It just felt like it didn't have a context, just being bitchy and kind of funny, but what else? In expanding it to eight hours, you could get more complexity and so many other characters."
Feud: Bette and Joan was being written at the same time that Murphy was forming his Half Foundation, which promotes an increased presence of women in film and television production positions. The series features 15 acting roles for women over 40, and half the episodes were directed by women, including actress Helen Hunt. Initially conceived as an anthology series, Feud, developed by Murphy, was picked up to series by FX on May 5, 2016. Bette and Joan was inspired by the real-life feud between Crawford and Davis, and explores issues of sexism, ageism, and misogyny in Hollywood. Its eight episodes were expanded from a feature-length screenplay Murphy had optioned called Best Actress by Jaffe Cohen and Michael Zam.
Sarandon said, "In our story, it was a fact that [the people behind Baby Jane] encouraged the animosity [between Crawford and Davis], first of all to control them, second of all to make what they thought was more onscreen tension, and that really hasn't changed a lot." Melanie McFarland of Salon wrote that the series shows "just how brutal the Hollywood system was on some of the greatest talents in its firmament" and that it "cuts to the root of why collaborating and delighting in the fall of the mighty is eternally marketable." The Crawford-Davis feud was also documented in Shaun Considine's 1989 book Bette and Joan: The Divine Feud.
Frequent Murphy collaborator Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon were attached to star as Joan Crawford and Bette Davis in Feud. Alfred Molina, Stanley Tucci, Judy Davis, and Dominic Burgess were also a part of the cast, in the roles of Robert Aldrich, Jack L. Warner, Hedda Hopper, and Victor Buono, respectively. In August 2016, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Sarah Paulson joined the cast playing Olivia de Havilland and Geraldine Page, respectively.
In September 2016, it was reported that American Horror Story executive producer Tim Minear would be co-showrunning the series with Murphy. Jackie Hoffman joined the cast as Mamacita, Crawford's housekeeper. In November 2016, Molly Price, Kathy Bates and Alison Wright joined the cast of the series, in the roles of Harriet Foster, Joan Blondell, and Pauline Jameson. In January 2017, it was announced Kiernan Shipka was cast in the series as Davis's daughter, Barbara "B.D." Sherry.
Sarandon admitted to initially being "overwhelmed and terrified" about the prospect of portraying Davis accurately. She said, "She's so big and she really was so big, so I tried not to make her a caricature or someone a female impersonator would do ... That was my fear, that she would just be kind of one-dimensional." Lange said her performance was informed by her view that Crawford's "brutal childhood" was masked by the "beautiful, impenetrable veneer of this great, gorgeous movie star ... So she was always on, which is a tremendous burden in and of itself, but always there was this thing lurking underneath of being this poverty-stricken, abused, unloved, abandoned young child and woman." Both Sarandon and Lange researched their roles by reading books by and about Davis and Crawford, and watching and listening to TV performances and recordings.
On February 28, 2017, FX renewed the series for a 10-episode second season, subtitled Charles and Diana. The season was to center on the relationship between Charles, Prince of Wales and Diana, Princess of Wales, with Murphy and Jon Robin Baitz attached as writers. It was later renamed Buckingham Palace, while Matthew Goode and Rosamund Pike were cast in the titular roles. The plans for Buckingham Palace were eventually scrapped in August 2018, but Murphy still intends to do further cycles of Feud. In November 2019, Murphy commented that he had no plans for another season but was open to resume work on Feud: "My deal is with Netflix. That's not to say that years down the line that I couldn't redo it or renew if I had a great idea. I think everyone is open to that but I'm working on so many other things."
Murphy gave several interviews about Feud during the 2017 Winter TCA Press Tour. The show's first teaser trailer was released on January 19, 2017, and the second the following day. That same week, Lange and Sarandon appeared on the cover of Entertainment Weekly as Crawford and Davis. FX released another teaser on January 23, two on February 5, one on February 7, and one on February 8. A short commercial for the show also aired during Super Bowl LI.
Feud had its official premiere at the Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles on March 1, 2017. Before the show's premiere, FX held screenings of the pilot episode at several gay bars across the United States.
The original television soundtrack of Feud: Bette and Joan, with music by Mac Quayle, was released in two editions: a regular edition with 23 tracks, and a limited edition with 31 tracks.
Feud received highly positive reviews, with major praise for Lange and Sarandon's performances. On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the series has an approval rating of 91% based on 84 reviews, with an average rating of 8.1/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "While campily and sweetly indulgent, Feud: Bette and Joan provides poignant understanding of humanity, sorrow, and pain while breezily feeding inquisitive gossip-starved minds." On Metacritic, the series has a score of 81 out of 100, based on 44 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".
Melanie McFarland of Salon called the writing "creatively wicked" and the series "outrageously fantastic", praising Lange and Sarandon for their performances and for "tempering their decadent rages and vengeful spats with a gutting sense of loneliness that tempers its lightness in solemnity." Verne Gay of Newsday wrote that the series is "Full of joy, humor, brilliant writing and performances, and a deep unabiding love for what really makes Hollywood great—the women." People called the series "bitter, biting and entertaining". The Atlantic's Spencer Kornhaber described the first few episodes as "deft and satisfying" but suggested that "maybe six installments, rather than eight, were all this tale needed". Alan Sepinwall of Uproxx wrote that the series is "big and it's catty, but it's also smart and elegant, with the old Hollywood setting toning down some of Murphy's more scattershot creative impulses." Emily Nussbaum, in The New Yorker, praised Murphy's ambition and lauded both stars, saying of the series, "Beneath the zingers and the poolside muumuus, the show's stark theme is how skillfully patriarchy screws with women's heads—mostly by building a home in there."
Not all reviews were positive. Sonia Saraiya of Variety compared Bette and Joan unfavorably to Murphy's The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story, writing that Feud is "neither as brilliantly campy and hateful as What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? nor as contextualizing and profound as People v. O. J. Simpson." David Weigand of the San Francisco Chronicle gave the series a mixed review, criticizing the script and Lange's performance, but praising Sarandon's, writing: "Lange is always interesting, but she’s only occasionally convincing here as Crawford. The voice is too high, for one thing. Sarandon fares better, as much good as that does with such a lousy script." The Guardian also criticized the series for being "lightweight", noting, "At just eight episodes, there’s almost too much to cover and at times, one craves a little more depth to certain moments." They singled out Lange's performance, however, writing, "Lange in particular moves past just an easy impression to something with far more weight. In a reversal of fortune that would make Crawford cackle in her grave, it’s likely that she’ll be the one up for awards at the end of the year rather than her co-star."
On June 30, 2017, a day before her 101st birthday, actress Olivia de Havilland filed a lawsuit against Feud: Bette and Joan for inaccurately portraying her and using her likeness without permission. The lawsuit stated that the pseudo-documentary-style of the series leads viewers to believe that the statements made by the actress portraying de Havilland in the show are accurate, but that in fact de Havilland had not said such things in real life. The various defendants filed a motion to dismiss under California's "anti-SLAPP" law. The trial court denied the motion but, on March 26, 2018, the California Court of Appeal, Second District, reversed the decision and ordered the lawsuit dismissed on the grounds that no person can "own history". The Court of Appeal further ruled the defendants were entitled to be reimbursed their attorneys' fees. De Havilland filed for estoppels to pursue action with higher courts, securing a restraining order against Murphy and the production company from airing Feud until further review and a court date with the United States Supreme Court. In January 2019, the Supreme Court declined to hear the case. de Havilland died in 2020.
The first episode drew 2.26 million live-plus-same-day viewers, which Deadline.com characterized as "solid" and made it the most watched program on FX that week. In comparison, the premiere of The People v. O. J. Simpson attracted 5.1 million viewers in 2016, and the FX limited series Fargo got 2.66 million in 2014. The premiere earned 3.8 million viewers in the Nielsen live-plus-three-days ratings, and 5.17 million viewers total when including two encore broadcasts, making it the highest rated new series debut on FX since The People v. O. J. Simpson.
|1||"Pilot"||March 5, 2017||0.5||2.26||0.4||1.54||0.9||3.79|
|2||"The Other Woman"||March 12, 2017||0.3||1.32||0.4||1.46||0.7||2.78|
|3||"Mommie Dearest"||March 19, 2017||0.3||1.08||0.4||1.46||0.7||2.54|
|4||"More, or Less"||March 26, 2017||0.3||1.21||0.3||1.33||0.6||2.54|
|5||"And the Winner Is... (The Oscars of 1963)"||April 2, 2017||0.4||1.36||0.3||1.40||0.7||2.76|
|6||"Hagsploitation"||April 9, 2017||0.3||1.06||0.3||1.28||0.6||2.34|
|7||"Abandoned!"||April 16, 2017||0.4||1.31||N/A||1.36||N/A||2.67|
|8||"You Mean All This Time We Could Have Been Friends?"||April 23, 2017||0.3||1.30||0.3||1.37||0.6||2.68|
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