​ So, what's the true story of Ryan Murphy’s new series Feud: Capote vs The Swans?

​ So, what’s the true story of Ryan Murphy’s new series Feud: Capote vs The Swans?

Think Real Housewives if they could read x

The new Ryan Murphy show Feud: Capote Vs. The Swans just dropped on Disney Plus and is based on some real-life drama that set New York’s upper-class society on fire.

The eight-part mini-series is the latest instalment in the Ryan Murphy anthology, centring on well-established rivalries by incredibly glamorous people. The first one followed the iconic hatred between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange played the pair to critical acclaim.

What’s the true story behind Feud: Capote Vs The Swans, then?

Some good old-fashioned airing of dirty laundry! To be exact, inspiration for the follow-up season comes from the best-selling book Capote’s Women: A True Story of Love, Betrayal and a Swan Song for an Era by Laurence Leamer. Both the book and the show tell the story of a writer who earnt the trust of a load of New York’s upper crust and then fell out with them all after he used their most embarrassing secrets as novel fodder. Think Dan Humphrey and that terrible book he wrote in Gossip Girl.

Laurence explained it best to PEOPLE magazine in 2021: “He ingratiated himself with the richest and most elegant women in the world. He decided he was going to write a book about them. He was going to learn everything he could about them for a number of years and then write a masterpiece.”

The book was Truman’s Answer Prayers,  which is believed to have died when he did in 1984 from liver disease at age 59. Only three snippets were published ever. All were put out in the world via Esquire magazine between 1975 and 1976. They were titled La Cote Basque 1965, Unspoiled Monsters and Kate McCloud. Friends have recounted how he would tease it, suggesting it was ready to go, but it has never materialised despite many people hunting good and proper for it.

According to its creators, Feud: Capote Vs The Swans starts with the aftermath of the book. Truman is persona non grata after writing about Babe’s husband, Bill Paley, cheating on her, among other bits of spilt tea. The show’s writer, Jon Robin Baitz, said to EW: “This story exists at this point where a world of elegance, ritual and class is being supplanted by a fervour of youth: disco, Studio 54, drugs.”

So, who was Truman Capote?

Played by Tom Hollander in the show, Truman Capote was one of the most important writers of the 20th century. Along with penning hard-hitting narrative non-fiction like In Cold Blood, he was also responsible for one of Audrey Hepburn’s most iconic roles, Holly Golightly, as he wrote the 1958 novel Breakfast At Tiffany’s.

Born in New Orleans in 1924, Truman was sent to live in the Alabama town of Monroeville to be raised by their extended family. His life was dominated by the poor relationship he had with his mother, Lilie Mae Faulk, and his step-father, Jose Capote, who adopted him in the 30s. One of his most true and enduring friendships was with his childhood pal Harper Lee, the author of To Kill A Mockingbird. Truman provided the inspiration for the character of Dill, the neighbour of Scout and her brother Jem.

In 1942, Truman got a job as a copyboy at The New Yorker, propelling him into literary circles. Eventually, he fell into the upper-class crowd, which arguably marked his eventual downfall. Laurence explained bluntly that after the scandal, “he became a social outcast”.

“It was after that he began drinking heavily and taking drugs and dissipated and really never wrote what he could have written. The book never existed. He pretended he was writing it, but he didn’t write it,” he continued.

Who stars in Feud: Capote vs The Swans?

Along with Tom Hollander, the cast is packed with some of the biggest names in Hollywood playing the Swans. Barbara ‘Babe’ Paley, the long-suffering wife of CBS founder Bill Paley, is brought to life by Naomi Watts, while Diane Lane plays the ex-wife of old Hollywood director Howard Hawks Slim Keith.

Chloë Sevigny is taking on socialite CZ Guest. At the same time, Calista Flockhart was entrusted to play Lee Radziwll, who got to say she was both the little sister of Jackie Kennedy Onassis and a princess thanks to her marriage to Polish aristocrat Prince Stanislaw Radzwill. These people don’t let a revolution stop them from using their titles! 80s Brat Pack icons Molly Ringwald and Demi Moore also star in the show, playing Joanne Carson and Ann Woodward, respectively.


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Photo credit via Feud: Capote Vs The Swans/FX