Fresh of her (rightly) Emmy-nominated turn as Marcia Clark in American Crime Story, Sarah Paulson is set to master a whole new series of quivering lip movements as eight-time Oscar nominee Geraldine Page. (Page finally won an Oscar in 1986, one year before her death at the age of 62.) Paulson will be playing the role on her frequent collaborator Ryan Murphy’s newest FX anthology series, Feud, the first season of which will focus on the livelong rivalry between Hollywood icons Joan Crawford (Jessica Lange) and Bettie Davis (Susan Sarandon).
Capitalizing on Murphy’s obsession with grande dames behaving badly, the first season will focus on Davis and Crawford’s deliciously bitchy antics on the set of What Ever Happened To Baby Jane?. Page, presumably, factors in due to the fact that she and Davis (and not Crawford) were both up for Oscars in 1962—Davis for Baby Jane, and Page for Sweet Bird Of Youth.
They both lost to Anne Bancroft, although Davis was a double loser that night, because Bancroft’s award was accepted by—wait for it—none other than Miss Crawford herself. As TV director Max Shell recalls:
Joan instantly stood erect—shoulders back, neck straight, head up. She stamped out her cigarette, grabbed the hand of the stage manager … then soared calmly onstage with that incomparable Crawford composure. Backstage, Bette bit her cigarette and seemed to stop breathing. Joan was out there; suddenly it was her night.
Ouch. Crawford, whose spotlight-stealing antics were dubbed “the triumph of the evening” by Time, made further headlines the following week, when she made a big show out of hand-delivering the Oscar to Bancroft after Bancroft’s performance in Mother Courage on Broadway.
Paulson is currently set to star in the second season of American Crime Story, which will focus on Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, and will presumably appear in every Ryan Murphy project until the end of time.