Today’s LEBLANGUAGE is devoted to the business prescience of John Landgraf, FX Chairman. A good deal of Landgraf’s executive success has been due to his alliance with Ryan Murphy, who first came to the FX family with the breakthrough drama NIP/TUCK 20 years ago and exploded into a full-fledged reliance on him for content greatness.
One of the more inspired and honored byproducts of that collaboration was the 2017 drama FEUD, which, per Wikipedia, dramatized 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). 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 nomination.
But for as intriguing as the FX miniseries was, the real story behind the story was even juicier:
Murphy admitted in interviews leading up to the miniseries release that this had been a passion project of his for decades, predating his producing career when he was an intrepid young reporter. As Wikipedia further documented:
(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’.”
Professionals have driven Hollywood since its infancy. Rivalries, too. Some more award-worthy than others. This one deserved them then and now.
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