September 04, 2012 10:06am PT by Lacey Rose, Lesley Goldberg
Starz Orders Historical Drama Based on Philippa Gregory's 'Cousins of War' Book Trilogy
Starz is betting on The White Queen.
In keeping with the premium cable network's straight-to-series strategy, Starz has ordered 10 episodes of a drama adapted from Philippa Gregory's New York Times best-selling novel series, The Cousins War. Set against the backdrop of England's Wars of the Roses during the 15th century, the story revolves around women caught up in the ongoing conflict for the throne. They are some of the most ruthless players in history and will stop at nothing to support their own causes and those of the ones they love.
White Queen will be told through the stories of three equally driven women -- Elizabeth Woodville, Margaret Beaufort and Anne Neville -- in their quest for power as they manipulate behind the scenes of history.
“Phillipa Gregory's novels have become runaway best-sellers with passionate fans the world over, making this a project ripe for reimagining,” said Starz managing director of original programming Carmi Zlotnik. “The period of England's Wars of the Roses makes for a sensational historical backdrop as a time fraught with violence, mystery and intrigue."
As part of the arrangement, Starz has secured all U.S. domestic and worldwide multiplatform distribution rights from ALL3Media International in a deal brokered by managing director Louise Pedersen on behalf of sister company Company Pictures. Starz will retain all global rights, with the exception of TV rights in the U.K., where the series will air on BBC One, and some TV/home video rights in Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.
Playground's Colin Callender, who worked with Starz CEO Chris Albrecht during their respective stints at HBO, will serve as an executive producer on the series as part of a larger two-year pact with his company.
“Carmi and I have worked with Colin for many years, and we are excited to have such a world-class movie and television visionary lending his talents to our Starz series,” Albrecht said in a statement.
Max Irons (Red Riding Hood) will play King Edward IV, and True Blood alum James Frain will play his master manipulator Lord Warwick. Newcomer Rebecca Ferguson will play Elizabeth Woodville, Edward's new bride, with Oscar and Tony winner Janet McTeer has been cast as her sorceress mother.
Amanda Hale (The Crimson Petal and The White) will play Margaret Beaufort, a religious woman loyal to the House of Lancaster who would sacrifice anything to see her son, Henry Tudor, take the throne. Newcomer Faye Marsay will play Anne Neville, Lord Warwick's daughter, a pawn in her family's battle for control who marries the king's younger brother, Richard Duke of York (Spring Awakening's Aneurin Bernard).
The series comes as Starz is looking to capture the success HBO has achieved with its fantasy period drama Game of Thrones -- which, like White Queen, revolves around warring houses in a fierce and deadly battle for the throne.
The series joins Boss, Magic City and upcoming efforts Da Vinci's Demons, Black Sails and Marco Polo at the network, which is wrapping fellow period drama Spartacus following its upcoming season.
White Queen will film in Bruges, Belgium, and premiere next year on Starz.