Earlier this month, my colleague Nellie Andreeva exclusively reported that Jeremy Piven was in negotiations to star in the upcoming ITV drama series Mr. Selfridge. Today, ITV confirms that the former Entourage star will play the flamboyant and visionary American entrepreneur, Harry Gordon Selfridge (aka “Mile a Minute Harry”) who launched the famous London department store, Selfridge’s. The show is set in 1909 and chronicles Harry’s effort to make shopping as thrilling as sex for the era’s newly-empowered women. The show is based on the book Shopping, Seduction And Mr Selfridge by Lindy Woodhead and was created by Andrew Davies (Bridget Jones’ Diary). A full press release, along with further casting, is below:
Award-winning actor JEREMY PIVEN (Entourage) will lead the cast as American entrepreneur, Harry Gordon Selfridge, in new drama Mr Selfridge (working title), about the life of the flamboyant and visionary American entrepreneur, produced by ITV Studios for ITV1.
Created by multi-award winning writer Andrew Davies, Mr Selfridge tells the story of ‘Mile a Minute Harry’, a man with a mission to make shopping as thrilling as sex. Pioneering and reckless, with an almost manic energy, he created a theatre of retail where any topic or trend that was new, exciting, entertaining – or sometimes just eccentric – was showcased.
Jeremy Piven takes on the role as Mr Selfridge following a successful eight-season run on hit drama Entourage, in which he won three Emmys and a Golden Globe for his portrayal as Ari Gold. Born and raised in Chicago, Piven has a successful career on stage and screen with credits including, Runaway Jury, Old School, Black Hawk Down, Serendipity and Guy Ritchie’s Rocknrolla. Piven also starred as Boddy Gould in Broadway hit Speed-the-Plow and in Neil LaBute’s Fat Pig. Most recently, he appeared in films Angels Crest, starring alongside Elizabeth McGovern, Mira Sorvino, Kate Walsh and Lynn Collins, and I Melt With You, which premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film festival.
Joining Piven in Mr Selfridge is KATHERINE KELLY (Coronation Street) as the confident and alluring socialite Lady Mae, whose connections prove vital for Harry as he builds his empire.
Also starring is FRANCES O’CONNOR (Piccadilly Jim) who will play Harry’s wife Rose, acclaimed French actor GRÉGORY FITOUSSI (Spiral) as Henri Leclair, Harry’s flamboyant creative director, AISLING LOFTUS (The Borrowers, Dive) as shop assistant Agnes, TRYSTAN GRAVELLE (Anonymous) as ladies’ man Victor, the Assistant Manager at Selfridges in-store restaurant, and ZOË TAPPER (Desperate Romantics) playing a celebrated stage entertainer, Ellen Love, who becomes the new ‘face’ of Selfridges.
The drama is set in London in 1909, at a time when women were revelling in a new sense of freedom and modernity. Harry wanted to indulge, empower and celebrate these women and so opened the doors of his lavish department store, on London’s famous Oxford Street.
Through the innovations and spectacular events Harry staged within the store, the stories will shine a light on hidden moments of the history of women, be it fashion, cosmetics, technology or domestic affairs.
Harry’s colourful life will play out against the rich tapestry of London at the turn of the century. In his leisure hours he was a gambler, and although happily married, he enjoyed the company of glamorous show girls and film stars. His womanising was legendary and he very much lived life in the fast lane.
Based upon the book Shopping, Seduction and Mr Selfridge by author Lindy Woodhead which is the account of the real life story of Harry Gordon Selfridge and his store, the series will go into production in April in London for transmission on ITV1 during 2013.
Andrew Davies and his writing team have cherry picked the most intriguing aspects of Harry’s real life and used them as a spring-board to create a big, glamorous city story. There is a rich cast of fictional characters to fall in love with, whose fortunes are all interlinked with his own extraordinary story. From the opulent life of London’s social elite, to the bright lights, glamour and back-stage intrigue of London’s theatres, from board rooms, private poker games and smoky music halls to the working men and women trying to make their own success, this is period drama firmly set in the advent of modernity.
The ten x 60 minute episodes of Mr Selfridge will be produced by Chrissy Skinns (Marchlands, Secret Diary of a Call Girl) and executive produced by ITV Studios Drama’s Kate Lewis. Andrew Davies (Bleak House, Pride and Prejudice) is the lead writer alongside Kate Brooke (Case Sensitive, Murder in the Outback) and Kate O’Riordan (The Bad Mother’s Handbook, The Kindness of Strangers). The first director will be Jon Jones (Titanic, Northanger Abbey).
Mr Selfridge has been commissioned by ITV’s Director of Television, Peter Fincham, Director of Drama Commissioning Laura Mackie and Controller of Drama Sally Haynes.
Said Peter: “The story of Harry Selfridge and how he transformed the world of retail is fantastically rich territory. Andrew Davies and the team have created a compelling and entertaining series that is part family saga and part workplace drama.”
Kate Lewis, Executive Producer for ITV Studios added: “It’s impossible to read about the real Harry Selfridge and not be enthralled. Here’s a man that had it all and lost it all in the most spectacular fashion. His life and the extraordinary legacy he left behind are dripping with drama.”
Mr Selfridge will be distributed internationally by ITV Studios Global Entertainment.