The TV critic on FRESH AIR, the weekday National Public Radio show, predicted Emmy nominations for Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon in FEUD. That was the FX series about Joan Crawford and Bette Davis. FEUD was a Ryan Murphy creation. I agree with FRESH AIR. Lange and Sarandon deserve Emmy nominations. Heaven bless Jessica Lange. Her performance as Crawford was so powerful and so human that folks may now think of the late Hollywood star in a kind way that overlooks Faye Dunaway's kabuki-like monster in MOMMIE DEAREST. Lange was great and touching, especially in last night's finale.
When I was watching Ryan Murphy's FEUD, I felt that young viewers would take what he'd written as totally factual. I was thinking "Well, that bit of business is more from the feud Bette had with Miriam Hopkins or Susan Hayward. Not a feud with Joan" or "Would studio head Jack Warner really have said 'I want you out there sucking c**k' to Joan in her AARP years?" In FEUD, Jack L. Warner severely orders Crawford to get out and promote 1962's WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE? It did become a box office hit, one that brought 2-Oscar winner Bette Davis the last of her Best Actress Oscar nominations. Joan wasn't nominated.
Did you know that Bette Davis had hoped to be in a hit Broadway musical? She had done the film version of THE CORN IS GREEN in the 1940s at Warner Brothers. She was repeating the teacher role in 1974's MISS MOFFAT. Morgan was a black youth in the musical version. The late Nell Carter was also in the cast. Film historian/author and totally cool dude Ed Sikov has the info on this theatrical misfire. MISS MOFFAT closed after two weeks of tryouts in Philadelphia.
When I met Bette Davis, she was in Milwaukee. That's where I started my radio/TV career and she'd come to town on a promotional tour for her 1978 film, DEATH ON THE NILE. She loved making the movie. She hated being on location. Joan Crawford did not work on TV as frequently as Davis did but she did provide a few laughs with Lucille Ball as a 1968 guest on THE LUCY SHOW and, a year before 1970's TROG, she starred in one of the best and most memorable episodes of NBC's Rod Serling anthology series, NIGHT GALLERY. She played the richest woman in the country -- a blind and mean woman -- in a 1969 episode called "Eyes." The ruthless woman pays a man for his eyes. The episode was directed by a newcomer in his early 20s named --- Steven Spielberg.
I interviewed Jessica Lange before she got the first of her six Oscar nominations. She now owns one Oscar for Best Supporting Actress (TOOTSIE) and one for Best Actress (BLUE SKY).
The lead actresses and supporting cast members FEUD elevated the material and gave truth to the real-life characters -- more so than Ryan Murphy did with some of his business in the scripts.