The rivalry between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford is one of the most infamous in Hollywood history. Now U.S. Network FX is recreating their strained relationship with the show Feud: Bette and Joan, which premieres tonight. It is created by Ryan Murphy, who is responsible for shows like Glee and American Horror Story. Feud: Bette and Joan is an eight-episode long series which will focus on the time when the two icons made Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? together. Bette Davis is played by Susan Sarandon and Joan Crawford by Jessica Lange. But more Classic Hollywood icons will be making an appearance: Catherine Zeta Jones plays Olivia de Havilland and Sarah Paulson plays Geraldine Page.
The premise of the show: It’s 1961, and former leading lady Crawford (Jessica Lange) can’t get arrested in this town. Roles for women past 40 (she’s in her 50s) are scarce, and she’s been deemed “box office poison” by the trades since her last few films flopped. Exasperated, Crawford pushes aside the “mother” roles her agents keep suggesting and searches for a story worthy of her talents. She finds “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?,” the twisted tale of a deadly sibling rivalry between an aging actress and her disabled sister.
Crawford knows the only way to make this picture pop is to pull in formidable, two-time Oscar winner Davis (Susan Sarandon). The “All About Eve” actress has also aged out of the starlet demographic, and though she’s still highly respected, her career is on the backslide. She needs this role, but there’s a caveat – both women hate each other. Their mutual rancor has developed over decades of competing for the same roles and awards. Now they must work together to revitalize their careers, but there aren’t enough martinis, nightcaps or morning cups of coffee spiked with gin to make their endeavor anything less than excruciating. Their feud, however, is also very valuable. It’s exploited by the studio, the director, the press and both actresses to draw attention to the production and put them back in the spotlight.