Feud: Capote vs The Swans: The Rise And Fall Of Capote And His Relationship With The Swans

Feud: Capote Vs The Swans Is The Second Installment To The Feud Series Directed By Ryan Murphy

On January 31, 2024, the first episode of the highly anticipated Ryan Murphy show Feud: Capote vs The Swans aired. The show depicted the life of the famous American writer Truman Capote and his relationship with the New York socialites, whom he called the Swans.

Capote Vs. The Swans shows the relationship Babe Paley, Nancy Keith, CZ Guest, Ann Woodward, Lee Radziwill, and Molly Ringwald had with the novelist Truman Capote. The show is based on the 2021 book Capote’s Women written by Laurence Leamer.

A Black And White Image Of Novelist Truman Capote And Socialite Babe Paley
A Black And White Image Of Novelist Truman Capote And Socialite Babe Paley (Source: Reddit)

Capote’s friendship with the famous women of New York ends after he publicized their personal lives in his book Answered Prayers, published in 1975 by Esquire. The first excerpt from Answered Prayers, La Côte Basque, 1965, revealed the intimate stories of the women’s lives.

Capote used real and fictional names, but the audience knew who the writer was talking about. Many argue that Capote ruined his friendship with the women as he saw himself as their gay entertainment. Some believe that Capote thought the women were ignorant enough not to understand he was referring to them in his book.

All in all, the show explores the rise and fall of the writer as the Swans shun him from their high-profile lives. With a stacked cast including Tom Hollander, Demi Moore, Chloë Sevigny, and Naomi Watts, the show was a hit among the audience and critics.

Feud: Capote Vs. The Swans: The Second Series Dives Into The Lives Of New York Socialites

Feud: Capote Vs. The Swans, the second season of the American anthology television series Feud, delves into Capote and his relationship with the women of high-society New York.

Capote was friends with these women until he published a scathing excerpt titled “La Côte Basque 1965” from his forthcoming book, Answered Prayers.

In his book Answered Prayers, Capote divulges scandals and intimate secrets of the socialites he had befriended.

Across its eight episodes, the show depicts the rise of Capote—when the writer was at the height of his literary success. But Capote Vs. The Swans—as its title states, is not a happy tale. As the series progresses, we see the ultimate downfall of Capote as his Swans take their revenge on him.

The Show Looks At The American Writer's Downfall From The New York's High Society
The Show Looks At The American Writer’s Downfall From New York’s High Society (Source: Twitter)

The show, adapted from the 2021 book Capote’s Women: A True Story of Love, Betrayal, and a Swan Song for an Era, features the lives of the famous socialites Babe Paley, Slim Keith, C.Z. Guest, Lee Radziwill, and Ann Woodward. The show leaves Gloria Guinness and Marella Agnelli, the other two swans of Capote.

The show also focuses on Joanne Carson’s life and her relationship with Capote despite not being crowned a Swan. She was the only one who stood by Capote to the very end.

The show has a stacked cast, with Naomi Watts taking the central role as Babe Paley. Diane Lane plays Slim Keith, Feud’s central antagonist. We see Chloe Sevigny as CZ Guest, Calista Flockhart as Lee Radziwill, and Demi Moore as Ann Woodward.

Though not a swan, Joanne Carson, played by Molly Ringwald, is a prominent figure in the show and Truman Capote’s real life.

Tom Hollander expertly plays the famous writer, and the show also features his lovers, Jack Dunphy, played by Joe Mantello, and John O’Shea, played by Russell Tovey.

Where Can We Watch the Series?

The first two episodes of the eight-part series premiered on FX and streamed on Hulu on January 31, 2024. The six episodes dropped weekly thereafter.

The show is available to stream on FX, Hulu, and Amazon and is also available on Disney+ in the UK.

Capote Vs. The Swans begins with the opening scene of Truman Capote staring at swans—the white birds, not his elegant friends, who had left him.

In its eight episodes, the show goes as far back as 1955 and 1968 before coming to 1975, when Esquire published Truman’s book. The first episode shows Babe Paley, played by Naomi Watts, in tears as she finds out about her husband and his affair.

In the scene in which Truman consoles Babe, she says to him, “The only person who could ever hurt me is “you.” This scene plants the seed of what is about to come.
One by one, we are introduced to Capote’s Swans and their not-so-perfect lives.

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Will There Be A Season Three Of The Ryan Murphy’s Show?

Ryan Murphy has not confirmed if there will be season three of the hit show. But with the show’s success, it won’t be shocking if Ryan Murphy returns with another enticing story.

Season 2 was supposed to focus on Prince Charles and Princess Diana, but FX’s CEO, John Landgraf, scrapped the idea in 2018.

In 2018, Landgraf told Hollywood Reporter, “As far as I know, it’s not active right now. We did [have it cast] but decided we didn’t feel we had the material right and decided not to move forward.”

There are rumors that the third season could focus on Jocelyn Wildenstein’s divorce. The Swiss socialite was well-known worldwide for her cosmetic surgery, resulting in her catlike appearance.

Vanessa Kirby is rumored to star as Jocelyn, with the show focusing on her high-profile divorce from her billionaire art deal husband Alec Wildenstein, her lifestyle, and her subsequent bankruptcy filing.

Feud: Capote Vs. The Swans: The Stacked Cast Of The FX Show

It’s difficult for any maker to have a stacked cast for their show. There can be feuds between the real-life characters, ego at the play, and catfights.

But Ryan Murphy brought many famous names to the show and got the best out of them. Ryan Murphy’s shows are hardly any misses, and Feud: Capote Vs. The Swans was another one.

Tom Hollander as Truman Capote

Born in 1924, Turman Capote was an American novelist, screenwriter, playwright, and actor. His work includes Breakfast at Tiffany’s, In Cold Blood, and A Christmas Memory.

Known for his distinctive, high-pitched voice and odd vocal mannerisms, Truman Capote loved rubbing his shoulders with the elites of the society. He was open about his homosexual relationships, though he never embraced the gay rights movement.

The British Actor Tom Hollander As Truman Capote In The Series Capote Vs. The Swans
The British Actor Tom Hollander As Truman Capote In The Series Capote Vs. The Swans (Source: Twitter)

Tom Hollander isn’t the first one to play Capote on the screens. Previously, Philip Seymour Hoffman won an Oscar for his depiction of Capote in the 2005 movie named after the famous writer.

The British actor Hollander has remained extensively busy in recent years. He starred as Quentin in the much-loved HBO show The White Lotus in 2022 and portrayed Alfred in the Harley Quinn TV series from 2020 to 2023.

Naomi Watts As Barbara “Babe” Paley

Capote once famously said Babe had one fault, “She was perfect.” Born Barbara Cushing in Boston, Babe was the daughter of renowned brain surgeon Harvey Cushing of Yale, Harvard, and Johns Hopkins.

Bade made her debut in the socialite arena in 1934 and became the fashion editor of Vogue Magazine four years later. She first married Graftno Mortimer Jr, a Harvard-graduate-cum-advertising-exec.

The couple divorced in 1946, and shortly after their divorce, Babe married William S. Paley. the chief executive of CBS. Upon marrying Paley, Babe left her job at Vogue and became a full-time socialite.

In the show, Paley meets Capote after he receives an invitation to one of her homes in Jamaica. But it was a case of mistaken identity as Paley thought it was the former President, Harry S. Truman, who was coming to her party.

Naomi Watts As Babe Paley In The Ryan Murphy Show
Naomi Watts As Babe Paley In The Ryan Murphy Show (Source: Twitter)

Nonetheless, the two developed a strong bond, and the two grew extremely close to each other. But their bond shatters after Barbara and her married life with Paley takes the central story in Truman’s La Côte Basque 1965.

Truman changes Babe and William’s names to Sidney and Cleo Dillon in his book, but the readers can’t help but notice how similar the Dillons’ lives are to the Paleys. In the book, Truman writes how Cleo Dillon has a one-night stand with the wife of New York’s governor—who leaves a permanent stain of menstrual blood on the bed of Cleo and Sidney Dillon.

The British actress Naomi Watts is perfect as Babe Paley. Watts began her career in 1986 with the TV series Return to Eden. In her 38 years in the entertainment industry, she has given several masterful performances.

She was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actress for the movie 21 Grams as she portrayed a grief-stricken mother. Her other works include Birdman, St. Vincent, While We’re Young, and TV series like Twin Peaks, The Loudest Voice, and more recently thriller series The Watcher.

Diane Lane As Nancy “Slim” Keith

The famous socialite Nancy “Slim” Keith had humble beginnings. Born in Salinas, California, as Nancy Gross, she was dubbed the original “California Girl” due to her long and athletic physique.

She was quickly snapped as a model and featured on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar at age 22, and after that, she never turned back. Her first marriage was with American film director Howard Hawk, which lasted for eight years before their divorce in 1949.

Her second marriage was with Broadway producer Leland Hayward, which lasted for a decade, and her last marriage was to British aristocrat Sir Kenneth Keith, through which she became Lade Keith.

In his book, Truman depicted Nancy Keith as Lady Ina Coolbirth and wrote that she loved dishing about everyone, from the British royal family to her dearest friends. After the book’s publication, Keith froze out Truman from her life.

Diane Lane As Slim Keith In The FX's Show, Feud: Capote Vs. The Swans
Diane Lane As Slim Keith In The FX’s Show, Feud: Capote Vs. The Swans (Source: Twitter)

The American actress Diane Leane plays Slim Keith in Ryan Murphy’s show. She started her career in the late 70s, but after failing to get commercial or critical success, Leane took a break.

She returned to the screen in 1987 with the movies The Big Town and Lady Beware. The miniseries Lonesome Dove helped Diane revitalize her career and earned her an Emmy nomination.

Her portrayal of Connie Sumner in Unfaithful earned her several nominations, including an Oscar and a Golden Globe. Despite early failures in her career, Diane managed to make herself a high-prestige actress, working with only top Hollywood directors.

Chloe Sevigny As Lucy Douglas “CZ” Guest

Born in 1920 as Lucy Douglas Cochrane in Boston, CZ got her name from her brother, who called her Sissy. Her parents were Alexander Lynde Cochrane, an investment banker, and Vivian Wessell.

CZ debuted in the socialite world in 1937 and earned the title of glamour girl of the Massachusetts North Shore in a 1939 contest. She tried her hands in acting but didn’t take it seriously.

In 1947, she married Winston Frederick Churchill Guest, a polo champion and second cousin of Winston Churchill. CZ was one of the Swans who didn’t feature in Capote’s “La Côte Basque 1965.”

She had little reason to shun Capote, but she scolded him for airing the dirty laundry of her friends. Even after the book’s publication, CZ didn’t mind being photographed with Capote.

Chloe Sevigny As CZ Guest In The Feud: Capote Vs. The Swans
Chloe Sevigny As CZ Guest In The Feud: Capote Vs. The Swans (Source: Twitter)

Chloë Sevigny perfectly fits the role. The American actress is famous among millennials and is loved by the young generation. Her recent feature in British singer Charli XCX’s video 365 proves it. Sevigny’s dramatic entrance during the ending bit of the video had everyone shaken.

Sevigny’s first movie, Kids, came out in 1995, and four years later, she rose to prominence after starring as Lana Tisdel in the drama film Boys Don’t Cry. She received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress for the role.

Her other projects include Dogville, Shattered Glass, and Melinda and Melinda. In 2010, Chloë won a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress for the HBO series Big Love.

Sevigny made her directorial debut in 2016 with the movie Kitty. She has so far directed four movies, including Carmen, White Echo, and a short film, Lysinka: Toxic Feminity.

Calista Flockhart As Lee Radziwill

Lee Radziwill was born into the wealthiest families in New York. It was a boon and a curse for Lee, as she mostly stayed in the shadows of her older sister, Jackie. Her older sister, Jackie Kennedy Onassis, was one of the most famous women in the world and the widow of the former US President, John F. Kennedy.

Jackie Kennedy was known as one of the most stylish women, but it was said that Lee was the one to advise her sister on her wardrobe. She famously told her sister to wear Givenchy despite JFK insisting his wife support only American designers.

Calista Flockhart As Lee Radziwill In The FX's Show, Feud: Capote Vs. The Swans
Calista Flockhart As Lee Radziwill In The FX’s Show, Feud: Capote Vs. The Swans (Source: Twitter)

Like CZ, Radziwill was unscathed by Capote’s book. But their friendship broke after Radziwill refused to testify for Mr. Capote in a libel suit brought by Gore Vidal. Capote had previously said in an interview with Playgirl magazine interview that Vidal had been escorted from a White House dinner party because he got drunk and insulted Jackie’s mother.

The American actress Calista Flockhart plays Lee Radziwill. In 1999, Flockhart portrayed Ally McBeal in the television series of the same name. She received a Golden Globe and three Primetime Emmy Awards nominations.

In the mid-2000s, Flockhart starred as Kitty McCallister in the TV series Brothers & Sisters and played Cat Grant in Supergirl in the mid-2010s.

Demi Moore As Ann Woodward

Ann Woodward has the most tragic stories among the Capote’s Swans. Born Angeline Lucille Crowell in Pittsburg, Kansas, Ann Woodward worked as a radio actress and showgirl before entering the New York high society.

Soon after entering the high society, Ann married the American banking heir William Woodward Jr in 1943. Everything was going fine in Ann’s life before she shot and killed her husband in 1955, mistaking him for an intruder.

She was never indicted for her husband’s murder but remained shunned by much of high society. Capote and Woodward were never friendly towards each other. He never missed an opportunity to bash her. In the series, this is portrayed as Truman’s retribution for calling him a f** behind his back.

Demi Moore Portrayed The Role Of Ann Woodward In Feud: Capote Vs. The Swans
Demi Moore Portrayed The Role Of Ann Woodward In Feud: Capote Vs. The Swans (Source: Twitter)

In his book La Côte Basque 1965, Capote flatly accuses Woodward of her husband’s murder. As shown in the series, Woodward took her life by cyanide poisoning only three days before Esquire published the book in 1975.

Demi Moore, the famous American actress, made her acting debut in 1981. She became a film star in the 80s and was part of the Brat Pack, starring in teen-oriented coming-of-age films.

In the mid-1990s, Moore became the highest-paid actress working in Hollywood. Moore has received several nominations, including Golden Globe Awards, Critics’ Choice, and Emmy.

Molly Ringwald As Joanne Carson

Famous for being the late-night talk-show host, Johnny Carson’s second wife, Joanne Carson, was not considered a Swan. Born Joanne Copeland, her father set her up to date the talk show host.

The two married in 1963, a year after he landed The Tonight Show gig. The couple divorced in 1972 as they faced many hardships during their tumultuous relationship.

In Truman’s book, Joanne appears as Jane Baxter. The model-turned-socialite was unfazed by the mention. In fact, she remained friends with Truman till his dying days. She even came to his rescue when the Swans became aggressive towards him.

Molly Ringwald As Joanne Carson In Feud: Capote Vs. The Swans
Molly Ringwald As Joanne Carson In Feud: Capote Vs. The Swans (Source: Twitter)

The Rolling Stone reported that Capote died on August 25, 1984, in Carson’s arms while uttering the words “Beautiful Babe” and “Answered Prayers.” After Capote’s demise, Joanne kept the writer’s ashes in two urns, one she gave to Jack Dunphy, Capote’s longtime partner.

The American actress Molly Ringwald portrays Joanne Carson in the FX’s show. She started her career as a child actress on the sitcoms Diff’rent Strokes and The Facts of Life.

Ringwald received a Golden Globe nomination for her performance in Tempest as Miranda. She played many teen roles in various projects during the 80s, including Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, and Pretty in Pink. Like Moore, Ringwald was also part of the Brat Pack.

In the 90s, Ringwald moved to Paris and began acting in French movies. Amongst the younger generation, Ringwald is famous as Mary Andrews from the infamous series Riverdale. Molly also starred in the controversial 2022 Ryan Murphy’s show Dahmer-Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story.

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Critical And Commercial Reception Of Feud: Capote Vs. The Swans

The Ryan Murphy show received favorable reviews for its second season. However, many critics and audiences have expressed that the first season was better.

The show has received an 8.4 on IMDb, but it takes in both seasons. Carol Midgley of Times gave the show 4/5.  Looking at the reviews, the critics across the Atlantic loved the show more. Jasper Rees of the Daily Telegraph scored the show 5/5, and so did Anna van Praagh of the London Evening Standard.

The American critics were much harder to impress, with Jackon McHenry of New York Magazine/ Vulture writing, “There’s a feast to be had in the chaos of Capote’s life, but Feud served chicken hash.”

Feud's First Season Centered Around The Rivalry Between Hollywood Actresses Bette Davis And Joan Crawford
Feud’s First Season Centered Around The Rivalry Between Hollywood Actresses Bette Davis And Joan Crawford (Source: Twitter)

Many might’ve forgotten about this Ryan Murphy show due to its seven-year gap. The first season averaged .34 million in the 18-49 demographic, with 1.36 million viewers per episode. Season 2 averaged .05 with the 18-49 demographic with .314 million viewers per episode.

The show’s first season, Feud: Bette and Joan, has a 95% Tomatometer rating with an audience score of 94%. The second season pales in comparison with a 77% Tomatometer rating and an audience score of 64%.

The Salary Of The Stacked Cast Of The Feud

There’s no doubt that FX had to shell out huge cheques to get a star-studded cast for their show Feud. The first season, Bette and Joan, aired in 2017, has two veteran actresses, Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon— legends in their own rights.

Lange reportedly has a net worth of $20 million. Sarandon has three times more than her and sits at $60 million. There are no official records of their salary, but it is believed that Sarandon might’ve taken a figure above $3 million.

If starring two Hollywood legends wasn’t enough for the first season, FX and Murphy brought in stars like Naomi Watts, Demi Moore, and Chloe Sevigny for the second.

Among the entire cast, Demi Moore has the highest net worth and maybe took the biggest cheque. The American actress has an eye-watering net worth of $200 million. She is trailed by her co-stars, who all have eight figures, with Watts at $35 million, Sevigny at $10 million, Lane at $40 million, and Ringwald at $11 million.

From reading celebrity blinds to keeping up with scores of all the different sports happening worldwide, Shreeyukta can’t simply have enough of the entertainment world. 

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