The new FX anthology series Feud focuses on two iconic actresses -- Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. Crawford started her film career in 1925 and Davis in 1930, and for years it was known that there was no love lost between the two. Davis famously turned down the role in Mildred Pierce for which Crawford won an Academy Award in 1945. But Davis wound up with two Oscars to Crawford’s one.
By the early 1960s, neither woman was getting much in the way of work. It was Crawford who found the horror novel What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?--a tale of two reclusive sisters who had once enjoyed stardom. She approached Davis with an offer that she believed would benefit them both. In Feud, Susan Sarandon plays Davis and Jessica Lange plays Crawford.
Our guest Ryan Murphy, is the executive producer of Feud, well as other FX series including American Horror Story and American Crime Story, the first season of which focused on the O.J. Simpson trial. The People vs. O.J. Simpson wowed critics and won 9 Emmys. Murphy also created the Fox shows Scream Queens and Glee.
A year ago, Murphy founded the Half Foundation. He has pledged to hire women or minorities for at least 50% of the directing and crew slots across all of his shows. The idea came out a moment on The People vs. O.J. Simpson that Murphy describes as a crisis of faith. He tells us what happened, what made him take action, and how conversations he had in the industry led to his decision to pick the current topic for Feud.
He also shares how he ends up picking other topics for his show, and why he wishes people would pause before immediately reacting to his choices.