Sarandon & Lange in 2013
Yes, it’s true, no April Fool, kids. It’s not exactly a remake but FX just revealed that American Horror Story‘s Ryan Murphy regular Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon will play Old Hollywood’s rivals Joan Crawford and Bette Davis, respectively, in a new series called Feud. It will explore the bitter rivalry between the women and their on-screen collaboration in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? According to Vanity Fair,
The Oscar-winning gals will be joined by amazing co-stars, including Alfred Molina (as What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? director Robert Aldrich), Stanley Tucci (as studio titan Jack Warner), Judy Davis (gossip columnist Hedda Hopper), and Dominic Burgess (as Crawford and Davis’s co-star Victor Buono).
Brad Pitt will exec produce and Murphy is set to direct several of the episodes. Sarandon and Lange will also be producers and production begins in the fall.
“Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” was released in 1962 and was nominated for 5 Oscars.
Veteran producer William Frye recalled his friendship with Davis during production of Baby Jane? in Vanity Fair in 2000;
I’d always known Bette didn’t exactly love and admire the woman she began to call La Belle Crawford; it soon became apparent, however, that she actively despised her.
“Is it you, sending me one rose every day?” she asked me over dinner one night. ”It’s not me.”
“Well, somebody is sending me one damn rose every day in a lousy little bud vase, and it’s driving me crazy. If you’re going to send roses, for God’s sake, send a dozen, or more.”
She soon found out that the roses were coming from her co-star, and she was repulsed.
While What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? was being filmed, Bette’s autobiography The Lonely Life was published. I was at her house when she opened the box of complimentary copies her publisher had sent her. She gave me one and inscribed it, “To dear Bill, who has made this life a little less lonely.” I could hardly believe her honesty.
A few days later, a small crisis involving the book arose: “La Belle Crawford wants an autographed book.”
“Give her one,” I said.
“But what will I write? I sure as hell can’t start out with ‘Dear Joan.’”
The next time I stopped by her house, she was in a very good mood. “I autographed a book for La Belle Crawford. I wrote, ‘Joan, Thanks for wanting my autograph. Bette.’”
FX Networks C.E.O. John Landgraf said of the network’s collaboration with Murphy,
“Feud adds a third and equally ambitious franchise to Ryan’s unprecedented slate of FX anthological limited series and marks our third such collaboration with studio partner 20th Century Fox Television/Fox 21. The series will offer a seductive, insightful look at what lies behind legendary personality conflicts.”
And Fox TV Group co-chairmen and co-C.E.O.s Dana Walden and Gary Newman added,
“With Jessica and Susan headlining, it’s already sure to be flawlessly acted, wildly entertaining, and fiercely provocative. It’s a fantastic project which only Ryan Murphy could deliver.”
The series will debut sometime in 2017. Watch Davis and Crawford in action below.
(Photo, Bettmann/Getty Images; via Vanity Fair)
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