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Ryan Murphy is adding yet another star-studded anthology to his résumé.
The prolific producer has scored a straight-to-series order for Feud, an anthology — as its title suggests — about famous feuds, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
Produced by Fox 21 Television Studios, the eight-episode first season revolves around the legendary rift between Joan Crawford and Bette Davis that occurred during the making of 1962 feature film What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? The rivalry between the two stars was paramount to the movie’s popularity at the time. (The pic scored five Oscar nominations, including one for Davis.)
American Horror Story alum Jessica Lange will reteam with Murphy and star as Crawford, while Susan Sarandon will play Davis. The pilot is based in part on the script Best Actress by Jaffe Cohen and Michael Zam, which Murphy purchased. Murphy will executive produce alongside Plan B Entertainment’s Brad Pitt and Dede Gardner. Alfred Molina co-stars as the film’s director, Robert Aldrich; Stanley Tucci is set as studio titan Jack Warner; Judy Davis will play gossip columnist Hedda Hopper; and Dominic Burgess is set as Crawford and Davis’ co-star, Victor Buono. Murphy will direct several episodes. Production begins this fall for a 2017 debut on FX. Lange and Sarandon also will be credited as producers.
Crawford and Davis, who played two aging sisters in the movie, were both aware that Baby Jane was key to the success of their respective careers and developed tension on the set that subsequently developed into a lifelong feud. Crawford went on to accept the Oscar for eventual winner Anne Bancroft despite the fact that the win meant her co-star, Davis, had lost. Their rift was documented in iUniverse’s 2000 book Bette and Joan: The Divine Feud by Shaun Considine.
Feud marks Murphy’s third series at FX and fourth overall — all of them anthologies. For FX, the Glee grad has American Horror Story (whose premise and leading lady for season six are both yet to be determined) and critical darling American Crime Story, whose freshman season focused on the O.J. Simpson trial. Season two of the latter, which has yet to be formally announced, will focus on Hurricane Katrina. Additionally, he has Fox drama Scream Queens set to return for the 2016-17 broadcast season, with season two taking place at a hospital with its core cast all returning.
“Ryan keeps reinventing TV,” said FX Networks CEO John Landgraf. “Nip/Tuck brilliantly extended the boundaries of ad-supported television. Glee reimagined the television musical. American Horror Story pioneered the modern anthological series, which has rapidly transformed the television landscape and been widely copied. The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story was recognized by many as the best and most talked-about new show this year. And all of those shows have been award-winning ratings hits. 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.”
Murphy, who recently launched a foundation to tackle Hollywood’s diversity problem, is also reteaming with Gwyneth Paltrow to prep a TV version of musical dramedy One Hit Wonders, though a network is not yet attached.
For FX, Feud joins a drama roster that also includes The Americans, fellow anthology Fargo, The Strain, Taboo and Tyrant. On the pilot side, the cabler is readying Noah Hawley’s X-Men take Legion, which is heating up toward a series pickup, and John Singleton drama Snowfall.
Murphy is repped by CAA; Lange is with Untitled and Katz Golden; Sarandon is with UTA and Del Shaw; Molina (who co-starred in Murphy’s The Normal Heart) is with WME and Hyler Management; Tucci (The Hunger Games) is with CAA, Anonymous Content and Theodore L. Blumberg; Davis (To Rome With Love) is with ICM and Shanahan Management; and Burgess (Batman Begins) is with Stone Manners Salners and Muse Management.
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