MIPCOM: Elizabeth Hurley on Playing Fictitious British Queen in 'The Royals'

E!

Lionsgate is shopping the E! drama to U.K. networks in Cannes, emphasizing it is not mocking real royals

Looks like it's crunch time for The Royals.

E! ordered the Lionsgate Television drama from One Tree Hill creator Mark Schwahn as its first scripted series. Canada's Bell Media also picked up the Elizabeth Hurley-led 10-episodes series for E! Canada.

But Lionsgate has yet to secure an elusive U.K. TV deal for The Royals. That crowning achievement may follow a Tuesday night screening of the hourlong drama for buyers at MIPCOM.

What's the holdup? The suspicion among the Brits is the Americans turned savagely on their real-life British royal family with a Hollywood portrayal of a fictional British royal family in modern-day London.

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The reply from Schwahn, who executive produced, wrote and directed The Royals, is a firm no. "I think that people are wary. They want to know if an American has come in to mock the institution and a family, and that's never been the intention. When they see the show, they will embrace it," he told The Hollywood Reporter.

Hurley, who plays a conniving, diamond-dripping Queen Helena in the drama, is quick to insist she's not that British Queen and that the Americans are not out to spoof real-life royals she and fellow Brits dearly love.

The E! drama, with much fighting for the crown and forbidden love among British royals, is just racy, guilty pleasure TV audiences will love, she argued. "No, there's no mockery in the show, at all," Hurley said. "It's totally fictitious. Within a few minutes of watching it, no one could think we're portraying Queen Elizabeth II or anything like that."

But should Lionsgate secure a U.K. TV deal out of MIPCOM, the British audience for the U.S. drama shot in London could be forgiven for any confusion between British royal families, real and fictional. The E! drama, while using William Shakespeare's Hamlet as a narrative frame, deliberately exploits global fascination with the British royals to drive TV audiences to its fictional royal family.

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"Right now, there's a frenzied interest in our real royal family, because now Prince William and his beautiful wife (Kate Middleton) are young and vibrant and current, and people really identify with that," Hurley said.

The ensemble cast for the Lionsgate drama includes William Moseley as Prince Liam and Australian newcomer Alexandra Park as Princess Eleanor. Hurley, who with ex-beau Hugh Grant became Hollywood royalty, added that the fascination with the real British royals is similar to people's interest in movie stars.

"I'm happy to see gorgeous pictures of Prince George looking exquisite in his christening robe," Hurley said. "I think it's fab. Is it a little extension of show business? Yes, kind of. But we love show business, too."

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