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Archive for March 6th, 2018

Dame de Havilland Sues FX

On 6/30/17, the day before she turned 101, Dame Olivia de Havilland filed a complaint against FX Networks LLC, et al., in the Los Angeles County Superior Court, claiming unauthorized use of her name and likeness to endorse a product and “false light.”  [See Case # BC667011.] The complaint concerns the portrayal of de Havilland “as a vulgarity-using gossip” in the FX docudrama Feud: Bette and Joan, violating her reputation for “honesty, integrity and good manners.” Specifically, in a scene of an interview of de Havilland at the 1978 Oscars, FX meticulously copied the dress and jewelry she wore to the 1978 Oscars (ie, “right of publicity”) as well as depicted an interview that never happened (ie, “false light”). Dame de Havilland has stated that FX never contacted her for permission or to request her input, and that she believes “in the right to free speech, but it certainly must not be abused by using it to protect published falsehoods or to improperly benefit from the use of someone’s name and reputation without their consent. … If [FX] is allowed to do this without any consequences, then the use of lies about well-known public figures masquerading as the truth will become more and more common. This is not moral and it should not be permitted.” The defendants’ motion to strike, based on California’s anti-SLAPP statute (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation; see CA Code of Civil Procedure § 425.16 – 425.18), was denied 9/29/17, and they are appealing in the California Court of Appeal 2nd Appellate District. [See Case # B285629.] The Screen Actors Guild American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) has supported Dame de Havilland with an amicus curiae brief, and several organizations (Motion Picture Association of America, Inc.; Netflix Inc., etc.) have filed amicus curiae briefs in support of the defendants/appellants. Opening arguments will be heard 3/20/18. Dame de Havilland is no stranger to difficult law suits. In 1944, after she refused some parts and Warner Brothers tacked time onto her contract, de Havilland successfully sued to get out of the contract. Her suit inspired the De Havilland Law, prohibiting the enforcement of a personal services contract beyond seven years (CA Labor Code § 2855).