In the wake of the cancelled Gossip Girl reboot, there’s now another glossy guilty pleasure about Manhattan’s elite waiting in the wings to take its crown: the long-delayed second instalment of the Ryan Murphy-produced anthology series Feud. Its focus this time around? The true story of Truman Capote and his coterie of socialites, whom he called his “swans”.
Back in April 2022, Deadline revealed that the follow up to the show’s frothy first season, Feud: Bette and Joan—an account of the venomous rivalry between Hollywood legends Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, played by Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange—would be titled Feud: Capote’s Women. (It was later changed to Feud: Capote vs the Swans.) Taking a starring role as the impossibly glamorous Babe Paley, one of Capote’s closest friends and the wife of CBS founder William S Paley, would be Naomi Watts. Meanwhile, Gus Van Sant would direct and two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist Jon Robin Baitz would pen all eight episodes and serve as showrunner, taking inspiration from Laurence Leamer’s bestseller Capote’s Women: A True Story of Love, Betrayal and a Swan Song for an Era.
Then, on 17 August, Variety reported that the show had found its Capote, too: Pride & Prejudice and The White Lotus’s Tom Hollander had snagged the part of the prolific novelist who became a pariah when he published a story which exposed the shocking secrets of his most powerful confidantes. Joining him? Eternal New York It-girl Chloë Sevigny as CZ Guest, a cover girl and muse to Andy Warhol and Salvador Dalí; Diane Lane as Slim Keith, the former wife of Howard Hawks who was credited with discovering Lauren Bacall; Calista Flockhart as Lee Radziwill, Jackie Kennedy’s radiant younger sister who married a Polish prince; Molly Ringwald as Johnny Carson’s second wife Joanne Carson; Treat Williams as William S Paley; Chris Chalk as renowned author James Baldwin; and Ella Beatty as Kerry O’Shea, the daughter of Capote’s lover John O’Shea.
These luminaries were among those in Capote’s glittering circle when he became the toast of high society following the publication of In Cold Blood. However, his next novel, the unfinished Answered Prayers, would prove less popular with his acquaintances: a scandalous tell-all which mined their lives for material. When a chapter of it, “La Côte Basque, 1965” appeared in Esquire in 1975, it was clear that its characters were thinly disguised versions of Capote’s friends, some of whom had dabbled in extramarital affairs and one of whom had shot her husband. (On 16 September, Variety announced that the latter, the former showgirl Ann Woodward, would be played by none other than Demi Moore.) Cue a mass exodus of the so-called swans and almost complete social isolation for the writer.
According to Deadline, Feud: Capote vs the Swans will open in the 1970s and end with Capote’s death in 1984, as a result of liver disease complicated by phlebitis and drug intoxication at the age of 59. Filming began in New York last autumn, several jaw-dropping photos from the set surfaced this January, and now, the first glorious set of stills have been revealed, showing the cast in character.
If the elegant costuming, elaborate hair and make-up, and sumptuous production design on view is anything to go by, it’s sure to be a hit. As we count down to the show’s release in 2024, keep your eyes peeled for more details.
This article was originally published on Vogue.com.