Third time’s another charm.
Marking his third anthology with the cabler, Murphy has landed a straight-to-series eight-episode order for the “Feud” themed project with the first installment centering around the legendary backstage battle between Joan Crawford and Bette Davis. Susan Sarandon will play Davis and Jessica Lange will portray Crawford. Each installment of the anthology will center around a different epic battle.
Alfred Molina, Stanley Tucci, Judy Davis and Dominic Burgess round out the cast. Brad Pitt will serve as an exec producer will Murphy and Dede Gardner with Sarandon and Lange producing. Murphy will direct several episodes.
The first season of “Feud” will tell the story of the legendary rivalry between two of the greatest movie stars of all time, Crawford (Lange) and Davis (Sarandon), and how they came together in 1962 to collaborate on a picture each hoped would revive their careers — “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?” which received five Academy Award nominations and became a cult classic, but not without the horror of the two women working together. Molina will play the film’s director Robert Aldrich; Tucci will play studio titan Jack Warner; Davis will play gossip columnist Hedda Hopper; and Burgess will play Crawford and Davis’ co-star Victor Buono.
Hailing from Fox 21 Television Studios, Ryan Murphy Productions and Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment, the pilot is based on the script “Best Actress” by Jaffe Cohen and Michael Zam, which Murphy purchased.
“Feud” was an easy sell for FX, and sources say the project moved fast. Murphy — who is repped by CAA — has created some of the cable net’s most successful series starting with “Nip Tuck” in 2003. “American Horror Story” has won the cabler a slew of awards, and “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story” is a shoo-in for Emmy season, plus ranked as cable’s most-watched new series of 2016.
“Ryan keeps re-inventing TV,” said FX Networks CEO John Landgraf. “’Nip/Tuck’ brilliantly extended the boundaries of ad supported television. ‘Glee’ re-imagined 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.”
“Ryan revolutionized the modern anthology with the ‘American Horror Story’ and ‘American Crime Story’ franchises, and he’s come up with another gem in ‘Feud,’” commented Fox Television Group Chairmen and CEOs Dana Walden and Gary Newman. “With Jessica and Susan headlining, it’s already sure to be as flawlessly acted, wildly entertaining and fiercely provocative. It’s a fantastic project which only Ryan Murphy could deliver.”
Lange reunites with Murphy on the hot project, following the duo teaming up on “Horror Story” for the first four seasons, before the Emmy winner departed the franchise, though Murphy has teased she could return to a future installment. For Sarandon, she is entering her first television project as a series regular, though her lengthy credits include guest roles on shows including “Mike & Molly,” “Doll & Em,” “The Big C” and “Rescue Me.” The “Thelma & Louise” alum becomes the latest big name to join a Murphy project, as the “Glee” creator has an impressive track record for attracting top-tier talent to TV. With Lady Gaga returning to season six of “Horror Story,” Murphy has enlisted A-list vets including John Travolta (“Crime Story”), Jamie Lee Curtis (“Scream Queens”), Julia Roberts (HBO’s “The Normal Heart”) and Kathy Bates (Horror Story”). The project also marks a fun “Thelma & Louise” reunion between Sarandon and Pitt who’s producing.
For Murphy, “Feud” is the mega-producer’s fourth current project, joining FX’s “Horror Story,” which has been renewed for a sixth season; FX’s “Crime Story,” which will center around the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina for its second season; and Fox’s “Scream Queens,” which will be set in a hospital for its second round, following its first sorority-centric season. All shows hail from 20th Century Fox.
“Feud” heads into production this fall and will debut in 2017 on FX.