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Starz Greenlights Catherine de Medici Drama Series ‘Serpent Queen’

Catherine de Medici
Harper Perennial

Starz has ordered the period drama series “The Serpent Queen,” based on the life of Catherine de Medici.

The eight-episode series is based on the book “Catherine de Medici: Renaissance Queen of France” by Leonie Frieda. Justin Haythe will write and executive produce the series, with Francis Lawrence and Erwin Stoff also executive producing. Stacie Passon will direct multiple episodes, including the premiere. Lionsgate Television and 3 Arts Entertainment will produce. Starz senior vice president of original programming Kathryn Tyus-Adair is the executive overseeing “The Serpent Queen” on behalf of the network. 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.”

Considered an immigrant, common and plain, Catherine de Medici is married into the 16th century 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 concieve. 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.

“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,” said 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.”

Starz has previously found success with shows about some of history’s best known queens. The premium cabler previously aired “The White Princess” about Elizabeth of York, and “The Spanish Princess,” about Catherine of Aragon.

Haythe previously wrote the screenplay for the critically-acclaimed film “Revolutionary Road.” His other screenwriting credits include “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “The Lone Ranger,” “Red Sparrow,” and “Snitch.” He is repped by CAA and 3 Arts Entertainment.

Passon most recently executive produced and directed all episodes of the limited series “Little Birds” for ITV/Sky in the U.K. Her film credits include “Concussion” and “We Have Always Lived in the Castle.” She is repped by Circle of Confusion, UTA and Granderson Des Rochers, LLP.