Ryan Murphy’s second season of Feud is based on the real life drama between Truman Capote and his “swans”—a group made up of fabulous midcentury New York society women who the writer eventually betrayed by publishing their secrets in a scandalous short story.
The women—which included socialites like Lee Radziwill and Babe Paley, are played in a meta way by Murphy’s own flock of powerhouse actresses. “They were like the original Real Housewives,” Murphy told Town & Country of the real characters the series portrays. “That’s something now that people are obsessed with.” Oscar-nominated director Gus Van Sant directed all eight episodes, with Pulitzer-finalist Jon Robin Baitz writing the scripts.
Read on for everything we know about Feud: Capote vs. The Swans:
What is the plot of Feud season two?
While the real life scandal that sparks the feud in question all began with a Capote short story, La Côte Basque, 1965, published by Esquire in 1975, the season itself is based on the 2021 bestseller Capote’s Women: A True Story of Love, Betrayal, and a Swan Song for an Era by Laurence Leamer. The book tells the story of how Capote became enmeshed in the lives of glamorous women like Barbara “Babe” Paley, Gloria Guinness, Ann Woodward, Pamela Churchill, C.Z. Guest, and Lee Radziwill, before betraying them by divulging their secrets in his thinly-veiled fiction.
The fallout from that story led most of the women in the group to cutting Capote out of their lives forever, both out of anger over the betrayal, and fear that he would air out even more of their dirty laundry (the short story was an excerpt from his never-published final novel, Answered Prayers, meaning there was more to come).
From the book’s official plot description: “Bestselling biographer Laurence Leamer delves into the years following the acclaimed publication of Breakfast at Tiffany’s in 1958 and In Cold Blood in 1966, when Capote struggled with a crippling case of writer’s block. While enjoying all the fruits of his success, he was struck with an idea for what he was sure would be his most celebrated novel…one based on the remarkable, racy lives of his very, very rich friends.”
Who is in the cast of Feud season two?
Truman Capote has been perhaps most memorably played by the late Philip Seymour Hoffman in 2005’s Capote, about the writing of his smash reportage book, In Cold Blood (Hoffman won the Best Actor Oscar for the role). So Tom Hollander has big shoes to fill, as he’ll portray Capote in Feud.
Naomi Watts will play Babe Paley, former Vogue editor and wife of CBS media tycoon William S. Paley (played by the late, legendary Treat Williams). By 1958, she was a member of the Fashion Hall of Fame after appearing on the International Best Dressed List 14 times, and was a noted couture client. Capote and babe were nearly inseparable at one point, with Capote writing about her, “Mrs. P had only one fault. She was perfect. Otherwise, she was perfect.”
Chloë Sevigny plays C.Z. Guest, the only Swan who didn’t turn on Capote, mostly because he didn’t reveal her secrets. Guest was the daughter of a Boston investment banker, married to Winston Churchill’s first cousin and a true socialite.
Demi Moore will play Ann Woodward, a socialite who may or may not have shot and killed her husband. Capote’s story was mainly based on Woodward, who committed suicide days before its publication. “I appreciate that it’s a period piece set in an intriguing world,” Moore told Town & Country. “There’s also the question of loyalty and integrity.”
Diane Lane plays Nancy “Slim” Keith, a Hollywood socialite credited with paving the way for Lauren Bacall’s career by demanding her director husband screen test her. She left her husband after he cheated on her, landing in New York after a stint in Cuba at Ernest Hemingway’s house to marry Leland Hayward, a prominent theater producer (they eventually divorced, possibly over her rumored one night stand with Frank Sinatra).
Calista Flockhart plays Lee Radziwill, Jackie Kennedy’s younger sister and a major fashion icon in her own right. A mainstay of the socialite circuit, Radziwill was close friends with Capote, once following The Rolling Stones together on their 1972 tour. (Radziwill was also the mother-in-law of Real Housewife of New York City cast member Carole Radziwill).
And finally, Molly Ringwald plays Joanne Carson, the second wife of former Tonight Show host Johnny Carson. Carson was a good friend of Capote’s who remained close to him until his death.
Head here for more on the real life people the series is based on.
Does Feud season two have a release date?
Feud: Capote’s Women will be released on FX and Hulu in the United States and through Disney+ internationally sometime this winter. Stay tuned for an official release date.