Starz is developing a drama series based on best-selling author Alison Weir‘s acclaimed Eleanor of Aquitaine biography and novel. This will be the first installment of a slate featuring “Extraordinary Women of History.” Susie Conklin will serve as showrunner.
The slate comes to us from Starz, Lionsgate TV and Colin Callender’s Golden Globe-winning Playground (Wolf Hall, Howard’s End). Starz has acquired the rights to best-selling author and historian Alison Weir’s acclaimed biography Eleanor of Aquitaine: A Life and its companion novel Captive Queen (buy both at Amazon).
“This slate of series will focus on lesser known but undeniably exceptional female historical figures while continuing the exploration of fierce characters in history,” said Christina Davis, President of Programming for Starz. “Alison Weir’s novels are the perfect jumping off point for this collection of series from Playground, who are known for their sophisticated storytelling.”
“We’re excited to partner with Starz and Lionsgate to bring Alison Weir’s acclaimed biography and novel of Eleanor of Aquitaine to television,” said Huff and Stern. “Eleanor presided over a magnificent, progressive court filled with scandal and intrigue, and we’re thrilled with Susie’s bold and provocative take on this fascinating story.”
Added Conklin, “I’m thrilled at the opportunity to bring Eleanor’s story to life – the drama and adventures she experienced are truly epic. I’m also captivated at how a woman who lived over 800 years ago can be so strikingly modern. She’s determined to live her life on her own terms, and the way she goes about that are extraordinary.”
Eleanor of Aquitaine defied the conventions of her time as a Queen of both England and France who wielded immense political influence over the kingdoms of men. She was a wife, mother and a fierce leader in an era when women were regarded as little more than chattels.
Eleanor’s unwavering spirit saw her through many years of victories and defeats – a marriage bound by duty, a passionate love affair, family alliances and betrayals, the grandeur of power and the desolation of imprisonment.
Originally published in 1999, Weir’s Eleanor of Aquitaine: A Life received widespread acclaim and ranks among the best-selling historical biographies of all time. The Boston Globe lauded the book as “an alluringly candid portrait” while the London Sunday Times called it a “triumphantly done, lively biography.”
Captive Queen followed in 2010 and was met with similar acclaim, with Publishers Weekly calling it “vivid and surprisingly modern.”
Producer and writer Susie Conklin is known for her work on A Discovery of Witches, The Musketeers and Cranford television series.
Alison Weir is the biggest-selling female historian and the fifth best-selling historian in the United Kingdom. She has published 30 titles and sold more than 3 million books – more than a million in the UK and 2.2 million in the US.
She is now working on two concurrent series of books: Six Tudor Queens, comprising six novels on the wives of Henry VIII (with associated e-books, above), and England’s Medieval Queens, a quartet of historical works of non-fiction.
Senior Vice President of Original Programming Karen Bailey is the Starz executive overseeing Eleanor of Aquitaine. Senior Vice President of Lionsgate Television Jocelyn Sabo is overseeing the series on behalf of Lionsgate.
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