Swan Song — Meet the Real-Life Characters in ‘Feud’ Season 2

Truman Capote is America’s Princess Diana. There, someone had to say it. In both instances, we remain obsessed not with the good work done but with the scandal-plagued, tragedy-tinted endings to two beloved figures. More than 40 years after Captote’s death by slow suicide (though officially it was liver failure), pop culture can’t get enough of his final years. Almost 20 years after the back-to-back film looks at his life (“Capote” and “Infamous,” starring Philip Seymour Hoffman and Toby Jones, respectively), Jon Robin Baitz (“Brothers and Sisters”) brings Capote to TV with the second season of Ryan Murphy’s anthology series “Feud,” “Capote vs. The Swans.”

While the two movies about Capote’s life focused on the research and writing of his masterpiece “In Cold Blood,” “Feud: Capote vs. The Swans” zeroes in on the work he published in the aftermath of that global success. Notably, a chapter from his work-in-progress “Answered Prayers” in which the novel’s narrator, P.B. Jones, lunches — and gossips — with Lady Ina Coolbirth at Manhattan’s chic dining spot La Côte Basque. Titled after the restaurant, the short story appeared in the November 1975 issue of Esquire. The stories included were thinly disguised and scandalous; the fallout was swift and complete: Capote was banished from the high society that he alternately loved and satirized. If he thought that his friendships could withstand the public airing of dirty laundry, he was dead wrong. Most of the glamorous, wealthy women he dubbed his swans turned their backs on him; he would never again speak to his best friend, Babe Paley.

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Now, the end of Capote’s reign and WASP culture itself comes to life in the glitzy limited series, starring Tom Hollander as Capote, Naomi Watts as Babe Paley, Diane Lane as Slim Keith, and Calista Flockhart as Lee Radziwill. IndieWire has compiled a who’s who of the women (and men) who watched, shielded, or propelled Capote’s rapid fall from the top in the aftermath of “La Cote Basque, 1965.”

“Feud: Capote vs. The Swans” premieres with two episodes on FX on January 31. New episodes will air every Wednesday through the series finale on March 13.

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