Starz continues to double down on European royalty with its latest series order – an eight-part drama about Catherine de Medici.
The cable network has ordered The Serpent Queen, based on Leonie Frieda’s book Catherine de Medici: Renaissance Queen of France.
It comes from writer and executive producer Justin Haythe, who penned the screenplay for the Leonardo DiCaprio-Kate Winslet feature Revolutionary Road, and will be exec produced by The Hunger Games director Francis Lawrence and The Matrix exec producer Erwin Stoff.
Stacie Passon, who has directed for Billions, American Gods and Dickinson, will direct multiple episodes including the premiere.
The series is produced by Lionsgate Television and 3 Arts Entertainment.
Catherine de Medici was an Italian noblewoman and queen consort of France, married to King Henry II and mother of kinds Francis II, Charles IX and Henry III. She had huge influence in France during the 16th century.
Considered an immigrant, common and plain, she was married into the French court as an orphaned teenager expected to bring a fortune in dowry and produce many heirs, only to discover that her husband is in love with an older woman, her dowry is unpaid, and she’s unable to conceive. Yet, only with her intelligence and determination, she manages to keep her marriage alive and masters the bloodsport that is the monarchy better than anyone else, ruling France for 50 years.
It is the latest U.S. drama to feature Catherine de Medici. who was played by Megan Follows in The CW’s Mary Queen of Scots drama Reign.
It is also the latest in a long line of female focused-period dramas for the network, which has found success with the likes of Outlander, The White Queen and The White Princess. The network is also developing a slate of series inspired by “extraordinary women of history” and has set a drama about Eleanor of Aquitaine from A Discovery Of Witches writer Susie Conklin and Playground Entertainment as the first in the strand.
Kathryn Tyus-Adair, Starz’s SVP Original Programming is the executive overseeing on behalf of Starz, while Courtney Mock is overseeing the series on behalf of Lionsgate.
“The Serpent Queen may be the most cunning account of one of the most influential women ever to wear a crown that Starz has told,” said Christina Davis, President of Original Programming for Starz. “We are thrilled to be working with such an incredibly talented team who will give this series a modern voice among a sensational historical backdrop.”
“Writing Catherine and her story has been truly exciting as she is a very complex leading character who becomes a skilled ruler, battling extraordinary political and personal odds throughout her reign,” added Haythe. “She is a Queen who defies convention, as she relies upon her intellect, her unusual entourage and a ready supply of black magic inspiring, centuries later, the Evil Queen of fairy tales.”
Haythe is repped by CAA and 3 Arts Entertainment, and Passon is with Circle of Confusion, UTA and Granderson Des Rochers.